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April 3, 2012 > Letter to the Editor: Correction - an understandable error

Letter to the Editor: Correction - an understandable error

While my wife and I very much appreciate the interesting March 20 article by Terry McInnes concerning our remarks to the recent "Friendship Force" meeting in Oakland, I would like to correct one, quite understandable, error in the text. That is, the headline refers to me as "Ambassador James Shinn." My actual U.S. Foreign Service Officer title when I served for four years at our embassy in Bern, Switzerland was "Deputy Chief of Mission" (or DCM). In diplomatic circles the French term, "Charge d'Affaires"(or Charge), is also used. The presiding U.S. Ambassador, of course, is the "Chief of Mission." In other words, I was the number two official at the embassy during the period I served in Switzerland.

The confusion in the article's reporting may have come about because my resume information for such talks to local groups usually refers to me as the "Deputy Ambassador." I use this nomenclature because I have found that audiences in the United States have no idea what either the terms "Deputy Chief of Mission", or Charge d'affaires" actually mean. In the former case the title sounds as if maybe I am some form of church missionary, and in the latter case it sounds as if perhaps I have control over the private, personal lives of embassy personnel! So, in the interests of "truth in advertising", and in homage to those distinguished individuals who actually earned the full title of "U.S. Ambassador," I would appreciate it if you could print a correction.

Sincerely Yours,
James Shinn

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