Updated: 3:33 am ET
Updated: 3:33 am ET
Posted: 1:52 am ET
In January 2017, the next President of the United States will enter office facing as daunting and diverse a set of challenges as any President in recent times. In order to address these challenges and threats, the next President will need more than new polices; he or she will need an effective and capable Department of State to implement his or her vision, including carrying out presidential instructions. The State Department, however, is not nearly as effective as it should be, to the detriment of American standing and effectiveness in the world. The Heritage Foundation’s Brett Schaefer details the steps that would better equip the State Department to focus on its traditional mission, and be of true value to future U.S. foreign policy.
Below is a quick excerpt:
When the President relies too often or too heavily on individual “czars” or “envoys” to address discrete issues, however, he risks undermining clarity and consistency of policy, distorting the importance of issues in the overall spectrum of U.S. foreign policy interests, and confusing both U.S. and foreign officials about the chain of command through the multiple lines of communication to the President.
Historically, the most prudent and effective approach is to allow the Secretary of State to be the chief foreign policy adviser and diplomat with appropriate input from other advisers and, when their equities are involved, other departments and agencies. To address this issue, the next Administration should:
- Appoint the appropriate Secretary of State for the President.
- Reduce the operational role of the NSC and place those responsibilities chiefly on Under and Assistant Secretaries of State.
- Return the Policy Planning Staff to its original purpose, or eliminate it.
- Refuse to accord cabinet rank to the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
- Curtail the use of special envoys and special representatives.
- Ensure that all candidates for ambassadorial appointments are qualified.
- Reinforce the authority of U.S. Ambassadors.
- Increase Foreign Service assignments from three to five years.
- Conduct an in-depth evaluation of standards, training, and qualifications for both the Foreign Service and Civil Service.
Under Strengthening the State Department’s Traditional Bilateral and Multilateral Diplomacy, the author proposes the following:
- Establish an Under Secretary for Multilateral Affairs.
- Shift the responsibilities of most functional bureaus to the Under Secretary for Bilateral Affairs and the Under Secretary for Multilateral Affairs.
- Rename the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs as the Bureau for Economic Development. The new bureau should encompass USAID; many of the current responsibilities of the current Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs; and primary responsibility (currently led by the Department of the Treasury) for U.S. policy at the World Bank and the regional development banks.
- Eliminate the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights.
- Eliminate the position of Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources.
- Merge complementary offices and bureaus and emphasize their overarching purpose.
- Reconsider lines of authority for non-U.N. multilateral organizations.
- Treat former U.S. territories as the independent nations they have become.
There’s a lot more! The full report is available to read online here. Also available to read below or to download as PDF:
On February 27, WikiLeaks began publishing “The Global Intelligence Files” – more than five million purported emails from the Texas-headquartered “global intelligence” company Stratfor. The emails date from between July 2004 and late December 2011. In a statement cited by CNN, Stratfor says it is outraged over the breach of its privacy:
“This is a deplorable, unfortunate – and illegal – breach of privacy” […] The company refused, however, to answer any questions about the information contained within them, saying: “Some of the emails may be forged or altered to include inaccuracies; some may be authentic. We will not validate either. Nor will we explain the thinking that went into them. Having had our property stolen, we will not be victimized twice by submitting to questioning about them.”
We’ve read through some of the emails on State Department-related topics and though they appear like trivial exchange, there are some interesting ones.
About Jared Cohen, formerly with the State Department and now Director of Google Ideas at Google
Some back and forth on the CIA’s chief of station in Athens, Richard Welch who was gunned down on 23 December 1975 outside his residence in front of his wife and driver in a 17N’s attack.
Decades old rumor that Welch was set up by an Embassy FSN.
An email exchange on the US Embassy Athens RPG hit in 2007
[DSonlineforum] Alledged Leak of 260,000 Classified and Sensitive State Department Cables – shows a state.gov email addy.
Thought–Re: wikileaks cablegate – disappearing cables — and old cronies @ State
Re: wikileaks cablegate – disappearing cables or how “The Foggy-Bottom Bow-Ties have their panties in a knot over a specific Iraq cable outed”
Yep, the purported email really did say “panties in a knot.”
An email titled, FBI SAIC comment on WikiLeaks (internal use only pls) says “nobody knew better than us how those State Department people write….”
One purported email from a Senior Eurasia Analyst dated September 2011 had awful things to say about Ambassador McFaul:
“On McFaul: everyone in CE hates dealing with him. He is deluded. He believes that Russia can actually be pulled into being an ally with the US. McFaul wants to use Regan’s gameplan. He constantly quotes Regan. On a sidenote, in McFaul’s office there is a large (really large, like4x3) photo blown up above his desk of McFaul, Obama, Medvedev and Putin all sitting around the lunchtable smiling. However, the way I heard it was that McFaul was scared to death of Putin and stuttered the entire time.”
Then there’s a source in Mexico dubbed MX1 with concerns about Wikileaks and afraid to “get fired when those cables are leaked.” The 2010 email exchange citing the same MX1 source also includes the following:
“MX1 says that this is a bad thing because it is already difficult to get Mexicans to be frank about how much GOM sucks. First you have the nationalism issue, then the fact that many just don’t like Americans, and now the ones that want to be frank are afraid they’ll lose their job when GOM finds out they said Calderon has his head up his ass and that the Consul General is taking money from the Zetas.”
Among the purported Stratfor emails released by Wikileaks are speculations about UBL’s non-burial at sea. Asked about that during a Daily Press Briefing, the State Department’s Mike Hammer had this to say:
“All right, as far as I understand, as far as my colleagues at the State Department go, excuse me, the Department of Defense, they have already clearly stated that the report is false and quite ridiculous.”
Elsewhere online, firstpost.com notes that “The latest leaked emails, spinning fanciful theories about bin Laden’s body disposal, are almost certain to feed the liveliest imagination of conspiracy theorists, of whom there is no dearth.”
And before you say “oh, dear!” — here is Trevor Timm, an activist at Electronic Frontier Foundation about rumors with no second source:
By the way, Stratfor’s VP of Intelligence is Fred Burton, a former deputy chief of the counterterrorism division of the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service.
Forging a 21st Century Diplomatic Service for the United States through Professional Education and Training http://d1.scribdassets.com/ScribdViewer.swf?document_id=50321106&access_key=key-1fdjsa2cc63b38eyb56v&page=1&viewMode=list
Copyright © 2011 American Academy of Diplomacy, the Henry L. Stimson Center and the American Foreign Service Association // Republished with permission from AAD.
On Feb. 13, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) issued a statement demanding that the government of Pakistan execute U.S. government contractor Raymond Davis or turn him over to the TTP for judgment. Davis, a contract security officer for the CIA, has been in Pakistani custody since a Jan. 27 incident in which he shot two men who reportedly pointed a pistol at him in an apparent robbery attempt.
Pakistani officials have corroborated Davis’ version of events and, according to their preliminary report, Davis appears to have acted in self-defense. From a tactical perspective, the incident appears to have been (in tactical security parlance) a “good shoot,” but the matter has been taken out of the tactical realm and has become mired in transnational politics and Pakistani public sentiment. Whether the shooting was justified or not, Davis has now become a pawn in a larger game being played out between the United States and Pakistan.
When one considers the way similar periods of tension between the Pakistanis and Americans have unfolded in the past, it is not unreasonable to conclude that as this current period plays out, it could have larger consequences for Davis and for American diplomatic facilities and commercial interests in Pakistan. Unless the Pakistani government is willing and able to defuse the situation, the case could indeed provoke violent protests against the United States, and U.S. citizens and businesses in Pakistan should be prepared for this backlash.
Based on this history, the current tension between the United States and Pakistan, public sentiment in Pakistan regarding U.S. security contractors and the possibility of groups like JuD and JeI attempting to take advantage of the situation, there is a very real possibility that Davis’ release could spark mob violence in Pakistan (and specifically Lahore). Even if the Pakistani government does try to defuse the situation, there are other parties who will attempt to stir up violence.
Due to the widespread discontent over the issue of U.S. security contractors in Pakistan, if protests do follow the release of Davis, they can be expected to be similar to the protests that followed the Mohammed cartoon case, i.e., they will cut across ethnic and sectarian lines and present a widespread threat.
Physical security measures such as concrete barriers, standoff distances and security cameras can add to a facility’s defenses against a terrorist attack, but they really do not pose much of an obstacle to an angry mob intent on overrunning a property — especially if local and indigenous security forces are unwilling or unable to intervene in a timely fashion and the mob has the time and latitude to assault the facility for a prolonged period. The protesters can scale barriers and their overwhelming numbers can render most security measures useless. Barriers such as hard-line doors can provide some delay, but they can be breached by assailants who possess tools and time.
Additionally, if protesters are able to set fire to the building, as happened at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad in 1979, a safe-haven can become a death trap, especially if the mob can take control of the secondary escape hatch as it did in that incident, trapping the Americans inside the safe-haven.
Commercial facilities are, by their very nature, far more accessible — and far more vulnerable — to mob violence than diplomatic facilities. A commercial facility can present a tempting soft target to those who wish to attack a symbol of America without tackling a hard target like a U.S. diplomatic facility, which is designed and built to comply with stringent security standards. If a mob storms a hotel, the local staff will be unable to protect the guests, and conceivably could leave the guests to fend for themselves in the confusion and chaos of a riot. Even worse, they could even facilitate attacks against Americans by pointing them out or providing their room numbers.
Any person identified as an American by such an angry mob could quickly find himself or herself in dire danger. While Americans working for the U.S. government can expect to have some security assistance in getting back to the embassy or to another secure location, non-officials may be left to fend for themselves, especially if they are not registered with the embassy. Non-officials are also not required to abide by the same security rules as officials. While many non-officials consider the U.S. State Department’s security rules to be onerous at times, during troubled periods these conservative security rules often serve to keep diplomats out of harm’s way.
Once a mob attacks, there often is little that can be done — especially if the host government either cannot or will not take action to protect the facility being attacked. At that point, the focus should be on preventing injuries and saving lives — without regard to the physical property. In most cases, when a mob attacks a multinational corporation, it is attacking a symbolic target. KFC restaurants, for example, have been frequent targets of attacks in Pakistan because of the company’s association with the United States. In many cases, multinational franchises such as KFC and even some hotels are owned by locals and not Americans, but that does not matter to the mobs, which see nothing but a U.S. symbol.
When an issue such as the Mohammed cartoons, the Bhutto assassination or the release of Raymond Davis spirals into violent protests, the only real precaution that many companies can take is to escape the area and avoid loss of life. The best defense is to use good intelligence in order to learn about the protests in advance, to track them when they occur and then to evacuate personnel before they can be affected by the violence.
U.S. diplomatic facilities and business interests in Pakistan are almost certainly reviewing their contingency plans right now and planning for the worst-case scenario. During such times, vigilance and preparation are vital, as is a constant flow of updated intelligence pertaining to potential demonstrations. Such intelligence can provide time for an evacuation or allow other proactive security measures to be taken. With the current tension between Pakistan and the United States, there might not be much help coming when the next wave of unrest erupts, so keeping ahead of potential protests is critically important.
Active links added above. Read the whole thing here — The Threat of Civil Unrest in Pakistan and the Davis Case (republished with permission of STRATFOR).
But Republicans Have Grown Much More Anxious; Democrats And Independents Much Less So
This one from Public Agenda:
The American public is less anxious about foreign policy than it’s been for four years, partly because they believe our global image has improved, and partly because the troubled economy and other domestic concerns are pushing foreign worries aside, according to Public Agenda’s Confidence in U.S. Foreign Policy Index.
The Foreign Policy Anxiety Indicator stands at 122, a 10-point drop since 2008 and the lowest level since Public Agenda introduced this measure in 2006. The Confidence in Foreign Policy Index, produced by Public Agenda in collaboration with Foreign Affairs, uses a set of tracking questions to measure Americans’ comfort level with the nation’s foreign policy, much the same way the Consumer Confidence Index measures the public’s satisfaction with the economy.
The Anxiety Indicator is measured on a 200-point scale, with 100 serving as a neutral midpoint, neither anxious nor confident. A score of 50 or below would indicate a period of complacency. Above the “redline” of 150 would be anxiety shading into real fear and a withdrawal of public confidence in U.S. policy.
“Two years ago, Iraq was seen as the ‘number one’ problem facing the nation in its dealings with the rest of the world,” said Daniel Yankelovich, the noted social scientist and Public Agenda’s chairman. “Now, neither Iraq nor Afghanistan is cited as one of the five most important foreign policy problems we face. But most Americans still see the world as a treacherous, often hostile place, and that concern certainly hasn’t gone away.”
Republican Anxiety Grows, While Worries Subside for Democrats, Independents
There are striking differences by party, however, with anxiety about foreign affairs skyrocketing among Republicans, even as Democrats and independents report their worries are declining. When the Anxiety Indicator is calculated by party, Republican worries have soared from a relatively low level of 108 in 2008 to 134 today. By contrast, Democratic anxiety — which was 142 in 2008 — has now fallen to relatively calm 104. Independents were at 140 in 2008 and are still fairly anxious at 128, but that’s a notable decline.
Download and read report — Confidence In U.S. Foreign Policy Index: Volume 7, Spring 2010
The British non-profit organization, The Work Foundation has released a paper on Exceeding Expectation: the principles of outstanding leadership (Authors: Penny Tamkin, Gemma Pearson, Wendy Hirsh and Susannah Constable). It lists nine themes which characterize outstanding leaders.
Clark Kent Ervin, the former inspector general of the State Department (2001-2003) and of the Department of Homeland Security (2003 to 2004) who is currently the director of the Aspen Institute’s homeland security program recently wrote an op-ed for NYT excerpted below:
“Perhaps the biggest lesson for airline security from the recent incident is that we must overcome our tendency to be reactive. We always seem to be at least one step behind the terrorists. They find one security gap — carrying explosives onto a plane in their shoes, for instance — and we close that one, and then wait for them to exploit another. Why not identify all the vulnerabilities and then address each one before terrorists strike again?
Since the authorities have to succeed 100 percent of the time, and terrorists only once, the odds are overwhelmingly against the authorities. But they’ll be more likely to defy fate if they go beyond reflexive defense and play offense for a change.”
Imagine if you were breastfeeding or pumping milk the day those restrictions took effect? TSA says air travelers may now carry liquids, gels and aerosols in their carry-on bag when going through security checkpoints but “all liquids, gels and aerosols must be in 3.4 ounce (100ml) or smaller containers. Larger containers that are half-full or toothpaste tubes rolled up are not allowed. Each container must be 3.4 ounces (100ml) or smaller.” Somewhere, some not so nice folks are laughing.
Why can’t we do the equivalent of hackers when it comes to terrorism and stay one step ahead of potential breaches? The thing is we can’t pretend to seal the holes in the boat when we don’t know where we are leaking. Until we know which parts of “us” are vulnerable, we will always play catch up. And while we are stuck with protecting ourselves for the next shoe-bombing or underpants assault, the enemy may have already imagined other more creative ways to do us harm. The attack may not even have to blow anything up — just throw us into chaos; at significant costs to our peace of mind and sense of security, and to the taxpayers’ pockets.
You’re going to start thinking Domani Spero has gone bat crazy …
I don’t even want to do the math. My head already hurts.
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Ron Capps is a peacekeeping program manager at Refugees International. According to FP, he served in Afghanistan as a soldier and in Iraq as a Foreign Service officer. He writes about Washington’s treatment of “civilian support as an afterthought” in the post 9/11 world. As a result, he writes, “the State Department’s ranks have been depleted and overstretched to the core. And the civilian half of warfare has suffered.” Read Call in the Civilians (Foreign Policy | October 26, 2009).
Development and diplomacy, like defense, are clearly defined and specialized fields. No one would task a USAID agricultural economist with helping develop Afghanistan’s or Iraq’s internal defense strategy. But with the current deficit of Foreign Service officers (FSOs) at the State Department and USAID, the government routinely tasks U.S. special operations forces with implementing development and public diplomacy tasks. One exasperated officer asked me, “How am I, as a military professional, supposed to know what’s best for the development of this country? That’s USAID’s job.” But there is no USAID officer in the area, so she soldiers on.
Worldwide, the State Department and USAID need about 5,000 new FSOs to conduct core and public diplomacy, oversee foreign assistance, and manage stabilization missions. The State Department has been hiring about 700 new officers a year, a rate that barely beats attrition in the rapidly graying Foreign Service. USAID is 75 percent smaller than it was a generation ago, and despite bringing in 300 officers a year, it is still not meeting the global demand for development specialists.
A rapidly graying Foreign Service, for sure. It doesn’t help that the State Department kicks you out as soon as you turn 65 … Well, whatever. They must know what they’re doing.
He also writes that “Colin Powell, for example, increased the Foreign Service by about 1,000 people a year. But most of these newbies went to consular and diplomatic security positions, not core and public diplomacy jobs. Condoleezza Rice asked Congress for 1,100 more FSOs annually, but she got considerably fewer.”
Consular are not core jobs?
Excuse me — Madam le Consul, we need you here, right now!
Okay, I will only politely quibble with the examples —
Actually, former Secretary Powell’ Diplomatic Readiness Initiative that began in 2001 hired 1,158 people above attrition.
According to AFSA, former Secretary Rice made the following staffing requests below. Note that these are not at “1,100 more FSOs annually.” She did not get to that solid round number until her last year in office:
FY-06: 221 requested, zero funded (140 created out of reprogrammed funds)
FY-07: 102 requested, zero funded
FY-08: 262 requested, eight funded
FY-09: 1,095 requested, unknown number funded (I’ll have to look this up)
In one staffing debacle in the 90’s that you may or may not remember, there were hundreds of unfilled positions in the State Department. The agency’s response was to smartly eliminate all the vacant positions. Yep, even then there was smart power at work — so then no more staffing holes. End of news story.
The 1990’s were lean years for the Foreign Service. This report says that deep staffing cuts under Secretary Christopher and Secretary Albright forced drastic reductions in professional and language training. Sure, we had a deficit but it had been steadily declining in the early part of the decade. In 1998, for the first time in 29 years, we enjoyed a $69 billion surplus. In FY2000, the estimated surplus was at least $230 billion.
The Foreign Affairs Council Task Force Report in 2003 says that seven blue-ribbon panels between 1998 and January 2001 detailed the disastrous impacts of 1990s budget cuts that reduced funding for the administration of foreign affairs from $5.05 billion in 1994 to $3.98 billion in 1996 to $3.64 billion in 2000 (expressed in constant 1996 dollars). Ambassador Bill Harrop writes in American Diplomacy that the “neglect in the 1990s allowed our diplomatic system to erode nearly to dysfunctionality.”
You’d think it could not possibly get worse. And then it did. The decade of GWOT saw not just 9/11 seared forever into our collective memories but also two wars, one now going on its 7th year, the other on its 9th year. Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan which started in October 7, 2001 has now costs us $230,174,475,000.00. The Iraq invasion in March 20, 2003 and post-war reconstruction has now cost us $695,004,700,000.00. By the time I finished writing this, it’ll be much more –see here.
At the State Department, Colin Powell initiated a hiring surge in 2001. The Diplomatic Readiness Initiative (DRI) was reportedly the brainchild of then Foreign Service Director General Marc Grossman. It was a three-year push to hire 1,158 employees over and above those hired to fill gaps created by attrition. This report has the hiring breakdown:
467 Foreign Service Officers hired (229 in FY2001)
680 Foreign Service Specialists hired (298 in FY2001)
633 Civil Service employees hired (473 in FY2001)
399 DRI positions
399 DRI positions
By 2004 of course, the Iraq mess was in full swing.
Fast forward to 2006 – on January 18 that year, Secretary Rice outlined her vision for diplomacy changes that she referred to as “transformational diplomacy” to meet the 21st Century world. This new kind of diplomacy was about democracy-promotion overseas. The CRS reported that changes were made under existing authorities, but no legislation or new authority was requested from Congress.
I wrote previously about transformational diplomacy and the devils in the details here. A big deal was made about the global repositioning of Foreign Service personnel then. But on the fiscal year when this new transformational initiative was announced, Secretary Rice requested just 102 positions. None were funded by Congress. Without new funding or staffing, I thought of TD/global repositioning as nothing more than, frankly, avoiding the manholes in the global chessboard.
2007 is still remembered by some as the year when a muddy “near-revolt” happened in Foggy Bottom and diplomats were publicly threatened with directed assignments to Iraq. Just about everyone enjoyed the target; this one was the only one I remembered who tried to understand the fuller picture.
In the waning days of Secretary Rice’s tenure at the State Department there was understandably a big do to separate facts from myths (it’s harder than you think). AFSA tried to help. In it’s AFSANet message it also says that “Congress, at AFSA’s urging and with this Administration’s support, did include some FY-08 and FY-09 “bridge” funding for additional positions in the Iraq/Afghanistan War supplemental that was passed last summer. To our knowledge, State has not said how many new Foreign Service positions that funding permitted.”
In the long life of a bureaucracy, a well resourced agency like the Defense Department has hundreds of proud parents and godparents who can claim responsibility for its successes; but who claims responsibility for an underfunded/understaffed agency that must constantly wrestle with — well, people and paperclips?
And when we call in the civilians …and they’re nowhere around, we start thinking, “how could that be?” They must be here somewhere, surely, they must be … just hiding somewhere? ... After all, to admit that they’re not here and were never around in the first place, is to open a whole can of critters that can bite just about everyone up and down this sorry road.
Separating Fact From Myth II: For the Record
One Hand Clapping: The Sound of Staffing the Foreign Service