The role of diplomacy and the function of embassies is extremely complex. Now, more than ever, the function of diplomacy abroad is coming into question. Other than insiders, many critical roles and individuals who are in the foreign service of nations including our own, are unknown. It’s an overt role – and an important one. These diplomats negotiate policy with foreign nations as a profession. They’re the ambassadors of our country. But, their role in some ways in increasingly replaced by security concerns. The great undercurrent of their existence is also to support their fellow countrymen abroad.
Some of the closest relationships exist in the counter terror and military relationships that exist between two countries. China, on the other hand, is creating and leveraging strong economic partnerships. Both economic and military/intelligence partnership strategies are working. You would think by having our two separate roles it is probably good for relations with China. Because we can co-exist and not dip into one another’s primary line of effort. But, the latest ousting of American influence in the Philippines shows China isn’t interested in co-existence across all planes. They want to build the military and all encompassing relationships the United States enjoys. However, this isn’t about Sino-American relations.
Our diplomatic mission is probably one of the best and it’s still filled with complaints. Diplomacy all over the world seems to be ineffectual and not functional. Bureaucracy and its inefficiency has no nationality. It’ll claim any office as its home and rot. Citizens all over the globe are unhappy with their diplomatic support.
A recent article in Foreign Policy Magazine brings to light the question of diplomacy moving forward in today’s modern era. The basis for the argument is the terrible service many have experience traveling abroad. Because, despite the strategic efforts of the Foreign Service, they’re also supposed to help people traveling abroad. They’re ultimately responsible for processing passports and much more. It is supposed to be generally helpful. When travelers abroad approach the embassy, they find it difficult to navigate and not user friendly.
A core function of a diplomatic mission is to support its taxpayers and ex-patriots abroad. Based on some Yelp reviews captured by Foreign Policy Magazine, it seems it’s a task that needs much improvement.
Here are some of the reviews from the article:
“The worst embassy ever. I have travelled to many countries but never had a nightmare experience like I had with Canada.… I am appalled by the fact that no information was provided prior to my trip. No other airports require a visa for connecting flight. Once again Canada cost me enormous amount of money. I wish they could be held accountable for wasting people’s time and money. I really really advise you to avoid Canada all together.”
“We went to the ICDC Oscar event hosted at French Embassy and it was the worst party ever. To start with the venue; it was like a high school cafeteria decorated for a high school ball. There were like 3 tables and no other place to stand or socialize. Secondly there were no drinks, just wine and champagne for $10 a glass but even that was sold out at 8 pm (keep in mind the party started at 7 pm). There was a bar literally as big as the size of a kitchen isle. The desserts they offered were an insult for the French patisserie art. The Oscars were shown in a auditorium and there was nothing French or glamorous about the event. It was just an excuse for the host to make money.”
“If I could give no stars, I would.… I just tried calling for about the tenth time, and got hung up on. When I called back and pretended like we got disconnected and asked for a supervisor, I got send to a full voicemail box (which was about my third time being sent to a full box).”
“The people who work at the Visa Office are delightful as ever. You would’ve thought I was asking them to drive across the country to pick up my five kids and seven dogs in a zombie apocalypse, the way they reacted to my visa application. God, it must be so hard, working a 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. job. The rest of us just have no idea.”
“I’ve been trying to talk to someone at the embassy for 2 days already the phone rings and rings and nobody picks up. Why they provide a phone number when there is no one to answer calls.”
“This is the worst place to visit. 100 times worse than the DMV.… Submitted a visa application a month before my I take my trip, they asked me to come in for interview and I did, than, they asked for additional documents and more information a week later after the interview. They will send you home and ask you to come in a week later for something you could have given them when you were actually there for the pointless interview. that, might I add, you had to wait hours to complete.”
“Worst place in the world. If you want to experience what hell will be like, come here! Beats the MVA by a thousand miles.”
“So I decided to fly all the way to DC from FL just to get here, and what do I see? A building that looks like a red brick house. It looks nothing like an embassy. If it weren’t for a flag outside, you wouldn’t be able to identify what this place is. They did not do much to make this building represent Philippines, including the interior. As for the customer service, turtle slow. They have a number system and around noon, they all go to lunch and not say anything to the people waiting. What happens if you leave & come back not realizing that they’re back from their break and started calling out numbers again? What if your number got called but you went out to eat lunch? What then?””
Will corporations replace the functionality of diplomacy for travelers as your diplomatic entity is essentially CC’d?
Featured image courtesy of Foreign Policy Magazine.