The Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship
Attacks on US Facilities in the Greater Mideast: A Message to Pickering Fellows and Applicants
I was recruiting 2013 Pickering Fellowship applicants at Lincoln University, September 11-12, when I learned of the rage erupting in the Broader Mideast and the violent attack on Consulate Benghazi resulting in the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other American officials. I felt deep hurt for the victims and their families, and sadness for all Libyans struggling along with Ambassador Stevens and his team to help Libya complete its transition from decades of dictatorship toward democracy, market economy, and integration with global institutions. I did not know Ambassador Stevens, but I know his work and how hard it is to help an unstable country in a volatile region through so difficult a transition. Persistent ignorance, hatred, and intolerance in that region—and among some in our own country—risk igniting and fueling the passion that triggered the violence we witnessed last week and the protests we continue to see in several other countries.
While addressing Lincoln University students in a beginning Arabic language class early on September 12, I underscored the Benghazi tragedy as exactly the reason to apply for the Pickering Fellowships, continue toward advanced studies in Arabic, and use that knowledge of Arabic language and cultures in the Mideast creatively to foster greater cross-cultural knowledge, interaction, cooperation, and tolerance at home and abroad.
I told those students, and I say to Pickering Fellows in all career cones and all regional areas, that there is so much more work to do in this regard in the Greater Mideast and throughout the world. Let the Benghazi tragedy bolster your determination to use your diplomatic talents and experiences to strive even more vigorously for a more peaceful, secure, democratic, tolerant, and prosperous world. You can make that difference.
Ambassador James I. Gadsden (retired)
Senior Counselor for International Affairs
Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation