Thursday, February 12, 2009

Diplomacy, Development, and Defense

How does everybody feel about these aspects being considered the pinnacle of US security? In this article, Mrs. Clinton talks about the roles of diplomacy, development, and defense as they relate to the State Department. I recently went to one of the IDPSA's Friday Forums, in which they were discussing the future of Development aid in the Obama administration. Although much of their focus was on development, I would say that development leading toward security controlled a large part of the discussion. Toward the end, however, a gentleman stood up and proclaimed that development should not only be done to promote US security, but that there also should be development done for development's sake. As with many forums, such as this one, diplomacy was not addressed except when defining what the three D's were. This got me to thinking, along with the topic of the public diplomacy offices being moved off of the State Department's campus- how many people think that diplomacy should be done for diplomacy's sake? Also, does this seem like a realistic idea? Discuss amongst yourselves.


  1. Point of fact update, in the latest shuffle of the re-shuffled, re-shuffle, R (the designation for the Bureau of Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy) is not leaving the main building of the Department of State, it is taking over another bureau that was folded into yet another bureau. R has not left the building, ladies and gentlemen, R has not left the building.

    On the note of discussing amongst myself, one part of me thought, "'diplomacy should be done for diplomacy's sake?' What does that mean?" While another part of me said, "There's a lot of doing something for that thing's sake going on here." In other words, if water scarcity is driving people to conflict and you appropriate funds to build a dam, then build it to stop that conflict from spilling over into your country, does the access to water, and even a power source leave the conflict zone worse off? So, any development done in an effective manner, whether it is to pipe down a conflict or done with the purest humanitarian intentions is development. While that last point may have come across with a little sarcasm, here is a different rationale. There is burgeoning field of human security field that is interdisciplinary to the extent that it combines notions of security, based on layers of needs, of individuals in the international system, not just nation-states or other higher order actors, with more traditional conceptions of national security. As this field gains greater prominence, you will likely see greater "development for development's sake" not because the issue is any less based on national security, but because the definition of national security evolves to incorporate efficiency and effectiveness standards for development that were not previously part of the foreign policy calculation. Conclusion on the "development for the sake of development": It's realistic. Think PEPFAR and Millennium Challenge Account.

    As far as "diplomacy for diplomacy's sake," my apologies, but I cannot get passed the fact that any relations (political, economic, social, or otherwise) between two or more actors across borders is diplomacy. I say actors because you have the full range of sub-national actors (e.g. NGOs), but also supranational actors (e.g. EU, AU) that nation-states engage with on a daily basis. Perhaps you can expand on what "diplomacy for diplomacy's sake" would look like here because I don't see the distinction. Are you saying that PD should be a separate entity just out there espousing American values and customs with no link to the foreign policy apparatus? If this is the case, I imagine it would be a difficult to expect that a foreign audience would see the difference between those throwing out what it means to be an American with those who were engaged in the official business of safeguarding America's interests in the international system. So, my penultimate response here is that it is unrealistic.

  2. Just to clarify, I am not of the mindset that diplomacy could exist for diplomacy sake, that there is always an underlying cause for it - otherwise wouldn't be diplomacy, just relationship building. However, I do think that development can be done for developments sake.