Thursday, July 21, 2016

Election Year Hardship Pay

As I conclude Public Affairs Officer tradecraft training before heading to Lithuania for my next assignment, my fellow classmates and I have spent quite a bit of time contemplating how to talk to foreign audiences about this presidential election. This will be my third presidential election overseas, but the first time I will likely have to directly answer questions from public audiences.


The typical public diplomacy tactic in this situation is to talk about the process, not about specific candidates or their policies. That proves difficult when one of the candidates suggests that the U.S. might not automatically fulfill its NATO obligations in the event of Russian aggression against the Baltics. What do you think our ambassadors in those countries (and their PD sections) will be talking about today (and tomorrow...)?

Foreign Service Officers get various differential pay adjustments for working in dangerous or difficult environments. Perhaps the State Department should consider "election year" hardship/danger pay for public diplomacy officers in the field during presidential elections.