05/13/2009 - 4:45pm
What Role for Diplomacy in Stabilization and Reconstruction?
Posted by Elizabeth April
Yesterday, May 12, Army Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal was recommended by Defense Secretary Robert Gates to replace the former top U.S. and NATO commander. McChrystal joins four ambassadors who are second-in-command for the region.
This fusion of both military and nonmilitary personnel begs the question: What role does diplomacy play in stabilization and restoration of states? How can military and nonmilitary actors work together to strengthen the process? This was the subject of an event Wednesday, March 13, at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Speakers included former Ambassador to NATO under President Clinton Robert Hunter, and Thomas Boyatt, former Ambassador to Colombia and Burkina Faso.
It was explained by the Ambassadors that the way in which we think about international politics, military and nonmilitary work, and the interactions between them needs to be restructured. All of these areas are highly interdependent upon one another and it is necessary for each to work effectively with the others. However, there are many factors preventing this cooperation from occurring.
Nonmilitary personnel need training. Those in the military spend one third of their careers in school, an amount of time much greater than the schooling of the Foreign Service Officer. The government's military budget outweighs that of the Department of State, nonmilitary aid and international institutions at a ratio of 17 to 1. The U.S. spends more money on military affairs than all other countries, combined. People aren’t able to do their jobs, Hunter said, Ambassadors need “walking around money” and the authority to use it without having to seek prior approval up the chain of command.
Lastly, the Ambassadors explained, the government needs to learn how to incorporate nongovernmental organizations into diplomacy. State Department Appropriations FY2010 is speculated to announce a new Foreign Service career track, concentrating on Service members who serve at international organizations and multilateral institutions. This may well help bridge the gap between government and NGOs, amending one of the flaws pointed out by Ambassadors Boyatt and Hunter.
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