New technology, new actors, new issues and the breakdown of distinctions between foreign and domestic policy have undermined diplomats' monopoly over international relations. Foreign services have been overtaken by these changes and are no longer up to the challenges of defending and promoting national interests in the twenty-first century. They need radical reform of their structures, culture, recruitment and training. Above all, they need to reinforce their capacity for medium- and long-term geopolitical analysis and strategic thinking and introduce greater flexibility into their operations. Nevertheless, an effective foreign service is ever more essential to a country's security and economic and social welfare. Governments should give higher priority to foreign service reform. This article suggests specific areas to consider.