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Heard Around the Hillary-Sphere: Rainy Saturday Edition

October 24, 2009

hillary-clintonWhat a blah day! Here in Boston it’s cold and rainy which leaves me no excuse to not get some cleaning, blogging and reading done.

Speaking of reading, I’ve been asked to read and write a review for Leslie Sanchez’ new book about women in politics (specifically about the treatment of Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama and Sarah Palin during the 2008 election), You’ve Come A Long Way, Maybe, and hope to finish the book and have a review up over at Blog Critics sometime tomorrow evening and on this blog on Monday. I’m halfway through the book now and it’s a good read- hopefully I’ll be able to finish it tonight.

Last night I highlighted the upcoming feature in Parade featuring a typical day in the life of our Secretary of State, which was fascinating- go check out the whole Parade article (follow the link). And today, I stumbled across this Spencer Ackerman article from earlier in the week and it’s important enough to post the excerpts- definitely go check the whole article out because it describes the key components of Clinton’s ambitious QDDR plan:

Anne-Marie Slaughter was attending a private lunch on Tuesday at the International Finance Corporation in Washington when she saw the gap between what U.S. foreign policy is and what it needs to be. Discussed around the table: the myriad changes to the development landscape now that commercial banks and investment funds are joining with private foundations and corporations to assist governments and multilateral institutions on anti-poverty programs. While development work has been trending in this direction for years, even decades, the United States’ principal instruments of foreign policy, the State Department and USAID, hadn’t kept pace.
For Slaughter, the State Department’s director of policy planning, the lunch crystallized the need to refit the capabilities of the State Department and USAID — the independent development agency that reports to the Secretary of State — to better match an increasingly complex world. Which was fortuitous, since the project taking up the vast majority of Slaughter’s professional time is an ambitious top-to-bottom review of those capabilities for precisely that purpose.

In July, Slaughter’s boss, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, announced a new planning and budgeting document, called the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, or QDDR, created to “effectively design, fund, and implement development and foreign assistance as part of a broader foreign policy” every four years. It is the first such effort for the State Department, which is not known for a culture of planning, and is modeled after a planning document produced by the Defense Department that reassesses and guides strategy on a recurring basis.


But in an expansive interview in her office on the State Department’s seventh floor, Slaughter, a former dean of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, outlined the broader strategic concepts that are driving the QDDR. “This is not an abstract planning exercise that goes into a report and sits on a shelf,” she said. “It’s a planning exercise that does connect to the budget, that’s very important, but the implications go far beyond the budget. The budget is the tool to implement what we’re going to come up with. This is really what I think secretaries of state should be doing, which is a kind of farsighted look into how the United States is going to implement its foreign policy agenda in the 21st century.”


Asked if the QDDR will result in institutional changes at the State Department and USAID, Slaughter answered simply, “Yes.” While she said she could not yet determine would precisely would change, the QDDR’s working groups are asking a fundamental question: “What do we need?”

Three broad conceptual lines will determine the answer. The first, Slaughter explained, is that U.S. foreign policy is beset with “collective problems” — from terrorism to climate change to pandemic disease — that require joint international action, something all the stakeholders at Slaughter’s International Finance Corporation lunch recognized. “How are we going to allocate our resources and organize ourselves to be able to work cooperatively, while maintaining enough freedom of action to play the leadership role that we think we ought to play?” The corollary implication of that question, Slaughter indicated, is that the State Department and USAID need to strengthen their partnerships with different multilateral institutions, but also different U.S. agencies and departments, military and civilian — but not replicate their existing strengths.

“When we do food security, we talk to Agriculture,” Slaughter said, giving an example of current interagency cooperation that might be bolstered after the QDDR process is complete. “We’re doing global health; we’re talking to [the Centers for Disease Control] and [the Department of Health and Human Resources]. That’s great! State doesn’t want to duplicate that.” The same goes for the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which awards development grants to countries based on governance capabilities: “We have MCC people engaged in the QDDR and will definitely be learning from and considering its experience in how we integrate diplomacy and development.”
Accordingly, the second concept is about how State and USAID work with the military to address “the question of civilian operational capacity to crisis.” The widespread inability of the State Department and USAID — with budgets representing a tiny fraction of the half-trillion-per-year Defense Department — to deploy to conflict zones has expanded the military’s role in stabilization and reconstruction duties broadly understood to be civilian tasks…

Just an FYI- Spencer Ackerman wrote an article back in July which highlighted just how incredible Hillary Clinton’s strategic vision for the State Department truly was/is. You can see his post about that here.

The State Department confirmed that Secretary Clinton will be going to Pakistan “soon” but has declined to say exactly when, which is understandable given the security situation there. Here is an excerpt of an article about some of the goals of the trip:

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would soon be visiting Pakistan with the aim to strengthen the strategic relationship between both countries.

Addressing mediapersons during a briefing here, US Assistant Secretary of State P.J. Crowley said Clinton would meet President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and other top leaders of the country.
Crowley, however, did not disclose the exact date of Clinton’s visit.

“We are not going to announce specific dates for security reasons,” The News quoted Crowley, as saying.
According to diplomatic sources, Clinton’s visit comes at a time when anti-American sentiments in Pakistan were on an all time high and the top US diplomat would surely work to allay those negative perceptions.

“The secretary of state is visiting at a crucial time and the purpose of the visit is to strengthen the strategic partnership with Pakistan and assure long-term relations with Pakistan,” sources said…

On her blog, Katie Couric gives Secretary Clinton some much-deserved props. Here is an excerpt:

But now, as Secretary of State, her approval rating of 65 is higher than Michelle and President Barack Obama’s. Even some conservatives have done a 180. Glenn Beck told me he would have voted for her in the 2008 election.

Talk about whether she’s being “marginalized” has grown tiresome even among Washington wags.

She’s gotten some serious frequent flyer miles – 140,000 of them – traveling to 36 countries, and improving relationships with Russia, Cuba and even Iran.

And she’s helped oppressed women facing horrific abuse in places like Afghanistan and Congo.

Just what you’d expect from a woman who broke so many barriers here. Nice to see she’s getting the respect she deserves…simply by doing her job.

That’s a page from my notebook.

UPDATE: M. J. Rosenberg is right– How long is this administration and Congress going to allow Bibi Netanyahu to publicly slap the United States in the face while misrepresenting U.S. policy? People are questioning Obama’s loyalty to Israel when perhaps they ought to be asking whether Israel’s current treatment of the U.S. is appropriate, particularly given the U.S. provides them with more aid than they (we) do any other country.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Ted permalink
    October 24, 2009 4:16 pm

    Thanks for the updates. I like Ackerman he does very substantive reporting on what Clinton is doing.

  2. still4hill permalink
    October 24, 2009 6:16 pm

    Ever since she announced it, I have thought it brilliant and amazing on Hillary’s part to institute this review. The first time you implement something like this is the hardest. You are breaking new ground and writing the plan as you go along. Subsequent QDDRs will flow more smoothly and probably take less time, but this is a mark that THIS Secretary of State is leaving on this department that goes down in history and leaves her mark on State in perpetuity.

    (Just so you know, she learned about the QDR from her days on the Armed Services Committee in the Senate, and I think she would have ordered this review if she had been president, also. In fact she might have ordered similar reviews in other departments – and they all would have hated her for that as I am sure some career personnel st State do right now. GO HILLARY!)

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