Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

CIA Director Receives Annual School of Foreign Service Award

The School of Foreign Service (SFS) awarded the annual J. Raymond “Jit” Trainor Award to William J. Burns, a former U.S. ambassador and the current director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), in a Feb. 2 ceremony. 

The Trainor Award, named after a former SFS registrar, is handed out on a yearly basis to an exemplar of excellent conduct in diplomacy. Burns won the award in 2022, but he could not attend a ceremony in-person until now because of ongoing commitments with the federal response to the war in Ukraine. 

Burns served as a diplomat for 33 years before retiring in 2014. Throughout his career in diplomacy, Burns served as Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs during the September 11 terrorist attacks, Senior Director for Near East and South Asian Affairs at the National Security Council, U.S. Ambassador to Russia, U.S. Ambassador to Jordan and Deputy Secretary of State. 

After receiving the award, Burns offered remarks responding to global threats and engaged in a conversation with Ambassador Barbara K. Bodine, a professor in the practice of diplomacy and director of the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, a Georgetown University center dedicated to exploring diplomacy and global issues..

Burns said encouragement from his father and his father’s service in the military first sparked Burns’ decision to enter a career in diplomacy.

“Public service has shaped my whole life. When I was a graduate student many years ago, trying to figure out what to do with my life, I got a letter that proved to inspire me,” Burns said at the event. “It was from my father, a remarkable career army officer and a fine man who died recently. ‘Nothing will make you prouder,’ my dad wrote, ‘than to serve your country with honor.’”

Burns said this advice served as his inspiration over his decades-long career in foreign service in countries across the globe. 

@CIA/Twitter | The Feb. 2 event honored William J. Burns, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, with the “Jit” Trainor Award for his excellent diplomatic conduct.

Looking to the future, Iran should be a central focus for American policymakers approaching the often-murky relationship between the United States and the Middle East, according to Burns.

“The Middle East has emerged as a particularly complicated set of challenges for American policymakers as well,” Burns said, “Part of that is about the Iranian regime that I think is increasingly unsettled about what’s going on inside Iran.”

Burns said that instability in Iran can be attributed to protests in the country speaking out against the current regime.

“The remarkable courage of demonstrators over the last few months, especially young Iranian women, who in many respects are fed up with economic decay, corruption, political oppression and social restrictions, I think that unsettled view of what is going on internally is leading to more aggressive behavior externally toward the Iranian regime,” Burns said.

After the September 2022 death of Mahsa Amini, an Iranian woman who died while in police detention, protests swept Iran with demands for increased freedom in the country. While similar protests occurred in Iran in 2009, 2017 and 2019, the ongoing movement is the most widespread in recent memory.

Burns said addressing ongoing turmoil in the Middle East, including conflict in the Israel-Palestine region, will be an engaging task to take on in his work as CIA director.

Recent developments in the region, including a shift to the right in Israeli elections and clashes between Israelis and Palestinians, have sparked fears that conflict could spiral. In a recent visit to Jerusalem, Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged both sides to remain calm and begin to work toward restabilization.

“We see it across the Middle East,” Burns said. “Part of the responsibility of my agency is to work as closely as we can with Palestinian security services and Israeli security services to prevent the kind of exposure to violence that we have seen in recent weeks as well. That is going to be a good challenge.”

Burns said his personal experiences in public service have prepared him for his current position leading a national intelligence agency.

“Today, I am still in the arena, very proud to have been a career diplomat and equally proud now to be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, leading another incredibly dedicated group of women and men at a moment of profound transformation on the international landscape,” Burns said.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Hoya Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *