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Past Event

American Diplomacy in Crisis: How to Fix it?

The United States Foreign Service is confronting one of the most profound crises in its history. At a time of pandemic, recession and mounting global challenges, our nation’s career diplomats find themselves without the support, funding, training and leadership they need to represent the American people effectively overseas and in Washington, D.C., according to Ambassadors Marc Grossman and Marcie Ries and a team of career diplomats  working on the American Diplomacy Project.

To successfully navigate the Ukraine conflict, the largest war in Europe since World War II,  skilled American diplomacy is critical. If we’re going to deal with very difficult competitors, including adversarial countries like China and Russia, we’re going to need skilled diplomats at the table, in our embassies and consulates. To do this, we must transform not only the mission and culture of the Foreign Service, but also the education and training of diplomats to meet these urgent needs around the world.

Please join these two respected diplomats, Ambassadors Grossman and Ries, to talk about how to reimagine and lift up the Foreign Service to take on the twin challenges of fast-moving international events and rapid technological change. They offer clear blueprints for action to fix American diplomacy.

Marcie B. Ries is a retired ambassador with more than 35 years of diplomatic experience in Europe, the Caribbean, and the Middle East. She is a three-time chief of mission, serving as head of the U.S. mission in Kosovo (2003–2004), United States ambassador to Albania (2004–2007) and, most recently as United States ambassador to Bulgaria (2012–2015).

Ambassador Marc Grossman served as the under secretary of state for political affairs, the State Department's third ranking official, until his retirement in 2005 after 29 years in the U.S. Foreign Service. As under secretary, he helped marshal diplomatic support for the international response to the attacks of September 11, 2001. He also managed U.S. policies in the Balkans and Colombia and promoted a key expansion of the NATO alliance. As assistant secretary for European affairs, he helped direct NATO's military campaign in Kosovo and an earlier round of NATO expansion. Ambassador Grossman was the U.S. ambassador to Turkey 1994–1997.


Presented in partnership with World Affairs.


March 28, 2023

The Commonwealth Club of California
110 The Embarcadero
Taube Family Auditorium
San Francisco, CA 94105
United States

Image - Marc Grossman

Marc Grossman

Former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs

Image - Marcie B. Ries

Marcie B. Ries

Former U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria, Albania and Kosovo

Image - Markos Kounalakis

Markos Kounalakis

Visiting Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University

Commonwealth Club World Affairs

The leading national forum open to all for the impartial discussion of public issues important to the membership, community and nation. The Commonwealth Club World Affairs of California is the nation's oldest and largest public affairs forum. Each year, we bring hundreds of events on topics ranging across politics, culture, society and the economy to our members and the public, both in-person and via extensive online and on-air listenership and viewership.

The views of Club speakers are their own and their participation does not constitute or imply endorsement or recommendation by Commonwealth Club World Affairs.

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