Class of 1930 Fellow Amb. Jane Hartley on "The French-American Relationship"

As part of the Class of 1930 Lecture series, the Rockefeller Center hosted Ambassador Jane Hartley, who shared her knowledge on the French-American bilateral relationship and her experience as U.S. Ambassador to the French Republic and the Principality of Monaco between 2014 and 2017.

Although she had previously served in the Carter administration and on the Business Roundtable, in fall 2013, Amb. Hartley was running an international consulting firm and had no political ambitions, which made the call from the White House offering the ambassadorship all the more shocking. She described the whirlwind of affairs between her acceptance of the position and her first steps on French soil in the capacity of ambassador, particularly describing the intensity of the vetting process and divestment procedures as well as the overwhelming media reception she received upon landing in France. The most difficult adjustment she had to make though was getting used to constant security escort after a lifetime of living in New York and taking taxis at will.

Amb. Hartley then transitioned into reflections on her achievements and experiences as the chief representative of the United States in France, particularly with respect to cultural exchange programs, the enhancement of economic ties, and the promotion of religious toleration. According to Amb. Hartley, however, one of the most important and interesting implications of her belief in public diplomacy is her understanding of America’s role when unthinkable acts of terrorism strike abroad. Terrorism was the dominant theme of her tenure and she described in vivid detail the horror of the Charlie Hebdo, Bataclan, and Nice attacks, as well as their aftermaths in terms of displays of bilateral solidarity and substantive measures to improve intelligence sharing and counterterrorism cooperation. In an interview with Charlotte Blatt ’18, Amb. Hartley described her role by elaborating on both her own response and that of the country: “My question when I was meeting after one of these attacks with our people was always ‘have we told the French what we know’ and ‘have the French shared with us’ because terrorism does not stop at borders. We have to work together.”

Amb. Hartley continued her lecture with an assessment of the future of the Franco-American bilateral relationship. Amb. Hartley expressed confidence in French President Emmanuel Macron as a firewall against “reckless populism” and the Trump administration’s “out-of-step” positions on climate change. She also expressed confidence in the durability of intelligence-sharing institutions, economic ties, and mutual commitments to human rights promotion.  

In the interview, Ambassador Hartley concluded by kindly offering some advice to students interested in international affairs and the public sector: “The first thing I would say is do not get discouraged. We are going through a strange time in politics for our country. It can be easy as we get up and look at certain news cycles to be disheartened.” She ended with optimism reiterating that the “institutions and individuals in the public sector really can make a difference.”

As the Class of 1930 Fellow, Amb. Hartley concluded her visit to campus, her first return to Dartmouth since her younger child graduated in 2011, by participating in a student lunch—whose attendees included the War and Peace Fellows—the public event, and a faculty dinner. The following day, she participated in two sections of Kathleen Powers’ International Politics course.

Contributed to by Bryan Bliek ’18, Public Programs Student Assistant and Charlotte Blatt ’18, War and Peace Fellow.