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SOS Hillary Clinton’s Focus on Development as a Key Aspect of Diplomacy

October 23, 2010

Secretary of State Clinton has focused on long term diplomatic goals, in part, by authorizing the creation of a Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review(QDDR). A QDDR is issued by the Defense Department every four years (with the second “D” being Defense instead of Diplomacy) and for the first time, the State Dept. will be issuing it’s own QDDR, due out sometime in November or December. The WaPo has a preview:

So, how does Madam Secretary want things to be? The QDDR won’t be made public until next month, but in a 5,500-word essay forthcoming in the November/December issue of Foreign Affairs, Clinton offers a preview:

It’s not all about governments anymore.

“In the 21st century, a diplomat is as likely to meet with a tribal elder in a rural village as a counterpart in a foreign ministry, and is as likely to wear cargo pants as a pinstriped suit,” Clinton writes. She calls on diplomats to engage directly with the private sector, civil society and opinion leaders, especially in authoritarian states. How? By drawing from all agencies of the U.S. government to create a “global civilian service of the same caliber and flexibility of the U.S. military.”

Note the second “D” in QDDR.

Clinton wants to elevate development as a co-equal among the priorities of U.S. foreign policy. “Strengthening middle classes around the world will be key to creating the just and sustainable international order that lies at the heart of the United States’ national security strategy,” she writes. She also threads the needle on the old debates about the links between destitution and extremism: “Poverty and repression do not automatically engender terrorism,” Clinton says, “but countries that are impoverished, corrupt, lawless . . . are more prone to becoming havens for terrorists and other criminals.”

Diplomats at war.

Clinton notes that one in five U.S. diplomats is working in Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan. In Iraq, for instance, there are 1,600 civilians working alongside the 50,000 U.S. troops still there, and in Afghanistan, some 1,100 diplomats and civilians are leading reconstruction and development efforts and “will remain there after U.S. troops are gone.”

More cash is needed.

“The House and Senate have appropriated hundreds of billions of dollars for the military missions in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Clinton writes. “The diplomatic and development activities there represent a fraction of that cost, yet the funding often gets bogged down in old debates over foreign aid. . . . These missions can succeed, but only with the necessary congressional leadership and support.”

I think the focus on development is key and Clinton clearly “gets” it. But that was obvious from the beginning when word got around that she wanted the brilliant Dr. Paul Farmer to head up the incredibly important agency USAID. Unfortunately, the vetting process was so stupidly stringent that his prior good works became an obstacle (providing needed medication to poor countries in bulk). Beyond frustrating. Anyway, I blogged a lot about that at the time. Unfortunately, USAID has always been somewhat of a political football and when cuts have to be made, they seem to be the easy scapegoat. Of course defense cuts are usually out of the question, given that defense spending is largely unquestioned and the sacred cow of Congress and the military industrial complex. Secretary Clinton understands that there is more to protecting our national security than dropping bombs and building fancy weapons systems.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Steve permalink
    October 23, 2010 2:04 pm

    Hey Stacy, have you noticed you are getting a lot of extra hits from the WSJ recently? I was reading an article in WSJ online and they link to your blog. Here it is in case you are interested:

  2. October 23, 2010 2:34 pm

    Now that the UK has proposed significant cuts in defense, I hope we will have the courage to join them and make military budget cuts. I won’t hold my breath. After all, we only spend more than the rest of the globe combined…

    USAID and other organizations involved in development engage in duplication of efforts, lack of integration, and, as Secretary Clinton has said, the key people working in the same countries often don’t even know each other. Clinton wants to change this and realizes it will take time and effort. I hope she can make progress in this. Bureacracy is real and very wasteful.

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