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Report: The “militarization” of diplomacy exists and is accelerating

The American Academy of Diplomacy came out with a critical and honest assessment of the militarization of America’s public diplomacy. The report emphasizes the lack of personnel, expertise, and overall resources to do its effectively do the job required. From the executive summary:

…our foreign affairs capacity is hobbled by a human capital crisis. We do not have enough people to meet our current responsibilities. Looking forward, requirements are expanding. Increased diplomatic needs in Iraq, Afghanistan and “the next” crisis area, as well as global challenges in finance, the environment, terrorism and other areas have not been supported by increased staffing. Those positions that do exist have vacancy rates approaching 15% at our Embassies and Consulates abroad and at the State Department in Washington, DC. USAID’s situation is even more dire. Today, significant portions of the nation’s foreign affairs business simply are not accomplished. The work migrates by default to the military that does have the necessary people and funding but neither sufficient experience nor knowledge. The “militarization” of diplomacy exists and is accelerating.

Currently the Secretary of State lacks the tools – people, competencies, authorities, programs and funding – to execute the President’s foreign policies. The status quo cannot continue without serious damage to our vital interests. We must invest on an urgent basis in our capabilities in the State Department, USAID, and related organizations to ensure we can meet our foreign policy and national security objectives. There must be enough diplomatic, public diplomacy, and foreign assistance professionals overseas and they cannot remain behind the walls of fortress embassies. They must be equipped and trained to be out, engaged with the populace and, where needed, working closely with the nation’s military forces to advance America’s interests and goals. This report provides a plan and a process to begin and carry forward the rebuilding of America’s foreign affairs capability.

The following jumped out at me as I skimmed the report:

  • “…State will also need to increase core diplomatic staffing and expertise to manage the following new emerging foreign policy imperatives” including “proactive and preventive shaping capabilities” and “engagement of non-state actors.”
  • “Incorporating Internet and other Modern Technology PD Program Output”, “In the competitive world of attracting viewers to websites, PD needs to promote its websites on major search engines such as Google and Yahoo.”
  • “Establishment or Reestablishment of 40 American Cultural Centers”
  • Clearly connecting USAID activities to PD
  • “Strengthening the Secretary of State’s Role” in stability operations and security assistance (related: see post on U.S. Army’s FM 3-07)

While the report delves into necessary specifics and provides concrete recommendations, in my cursory review, it ignores the essential requirement that the Secretary of State and senior leadership must understand and internalize the imperatives described in the report. Also missing, again in my very cursory review, is an emphasis on training personnel. State needs the training “float” that Defense enjoys otherwise will be back at this point later on. Congress must also be brought more closely into the loop with oversight provided by experienced people who have gravitas and experience and can communicate with Congress.

More later as this deserves a more careful read. Your thoughts?

See also:

  • Anonymous says:

    State already has the answer to personnel shortages but is oblivious to it.
    Colin Powell had and tried to implement the answer but he was up against the Academia ridden, cold war mentality rampant in the State Department.
    The simple answer: Hire former military that already possess the skill sets necessary for Public Diplomacy.
    Specifically Special Operations where they receive language training, have real in country experience working in embassies, and are accustomed to working in less stable areas.
    An added benefit is that alot of training could be waived or just refreshed. Some have even attended IIP courses already.

    October 10, 2008 at 4:38 am
  • Jason Sigger says:

    I’d love to join the State Dept, but no way in hell am I going to risk it and get a trip to the largest embassy in the world (Baghdad). In any event, certainly not going to join up with Condi and her appointees still there.

    October 10, 2008 at 6:27 am
  • Nick Leason says:

    Fascinating insight as to the perception of working with STATE. A similar problem is facing the FCO in the UK especially in the intelligence services where an initial long tour in either IZ, AFG or PAK is de rigeur does nothing for recruitment. The military effort in the US has been carried forward by David P and in his new role at CENTCOM this will only be expedited. Interestingly the one command where the public perception externally and internally could easily be managed is AFRICOM. What has happened there – their funding has been cut and they have still yet to reach operating capability, although they have at least now agreed some strategic objectives.
    With the political state of sub sahara Africa as it is now, as well as the global economic concerns looking East, now is a real opportunity to work with the third sector to develop a PD footprint both militarily and diplomatically. Will they – not till summer 09 and the change of the Administration.

    October 10, 2008 at 9:35 am

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