View Full Version : Is the State Department Ready for the Job?

02-08-2006, 08:20 AM
From Democracy Arsenal - Is the State Department Ready for the Job? (http://www.democracyarsenal.org/2006/02/is_the_state_de.html).

Given the Iraq experience and the recent strategy review (QDR), DOD has made it clear that it will want a lot more interagency cooperation the next time we decide to occupy, stabilize, and reconstruct another country. It is not clear who the candidate countries are, though Iran, Nigeria, Indonesia, Syria come to mind. (That just means it will probably be a country we have not thought of.)

The interagency partner, however, is clear: the Department of State (along with USAID and other financial assistance agencies). Iraq demonstrated that America’s diplomats and assistance agencies were totally unprepared for the challenge. The question is, what lessons has State learned and what investments is Foggy Bottom planning that would correct this deficiency and give DOD the partner it seeks?

Secretary Rice knows State is in the bulls’ eye on stabilization, governance and reconstruction. She gave two speeches last week advertising “transformed diplomacy” at State and “transformed economic assistance” affecting all the aid programs in the international affairs arena.

So, the obvious question is: Has the rubber hit the road in the new budget and will State and AID be ready for the job when the next call comes? We can get some clues from the new budget for International Affairs the administration has just sent up to the Hill this week. And the answer is: not yet, so the trumpet had better not sound soon...

02-08-2006, 04:05 PM
Kudos to Condi for setting State on the road to reform by altering the geographic ratio of foreign assignments and the linguistic skills required for careeer advancement. Until now, State was operating with a personnel system basically designed by Charles Evans Hughes.

However, Rice's moves indicate that State needs to reengineer its institutional culture in order to be effective and this is going to take time.