Capturing, preserving, and sharing the experiences of America’s diplomats. ADST’s maxim perfectly encapsulates the diverse nature of a Foreign Service career that arguably makes every officer’s professional journey unique. And yet, underlying the idiosyncratic nature of these experiences are undoubtedly core values and challenges that unite most—if not all—individuals in this particular field. This is not to say that there is a uniform set of reactions towards them, but it should nevertheless be considered paramount for us to acknowledge this base uniformity in order to truly understand the fundamental roots of a given matter and properly address it.
Robert Kinney is one particular individual whose career demonstrates the constancy of certain values and challenges. For instance, the hostility that he faced when initially transitioning into the Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs is merely one example of the bias that certain labor attachés have historically experienced while in the Foreign Service. Furthermore, although he himself did not have any issues on this front, his discussion of the topic reveals just how crucial the influence of family can be on the decisions and life of a Foreign Service officer. It is worth noting that Kinney retired in 1973, a few years before the Foreign Service Act of 1980 addressed some of these very issues. However, that is not to say that these dilemmas have simply dissipated since then; if anything, the essence of his words continues to bear significance today: we should appreciate more the differing views and backgrounds of each individual to gain a balanced and informed opinion on any given issue.
Kinney spent the majority of his Foreign Service career in South East Asia, dividing his time between Manila, Jakarta, and Kuala Lumpur as a labor attaché. Furthermore, apart from his tour in Lagos, Kinney additionally spent time throughout his career in Washington, D.C., whether as a Special Assistant to the Labor Advisor of the Economic Cooperation Administration, or as the Labor Advisor at the Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs. He retired from the Foreign Service in 1973.