At 8:30 this morning U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will give "a major address on the role of economics in our foreign policy." This speech is the culmination of a series of Clinton speeches and papers over the past few months, including her July remarks in Hong Kong, her essay on America's Pacific Century in the pages of FP, and her remarks on global leadership earlier this week.
A key precept in Clinton's effort is addressing a kind of cultural lag in the sprawling Washington bureaucracy. Lead policy makers may recognize the pivotal role that economics plays in global diplomacy--but in many ways, the diplomatic bureaucracy needs to catch up. Clinton's planned speech will be in large part a call to her own agency's ambassadors, diplomatic staff and analysts to shift their thinking.
And as Clinton lays out that vision in more detail, she will stress two main bulwarks. First, she will highlight the need to advance relations with the wider world as part of the effort to revive the American domestic economic order. And second, she will stress that State Department diplomats and foreign policy thinkers need to work harder to understand how market forces are driving first-order national security challenges in hot spots such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran.
Now, as I noted last week, my full disclosure here is that I've seen multiple draft versions of this speech and might have made a modest suggestion or two (because you, dear readers, know how gentle I am with the red pen). Last week, I was pretty pessimistic about the effect of this kind of initiative:
I fear that the State Department is fighting through hurricane-level winds on this front to make a difference. First, the trade deals just sent to Congress are the last ones we're going to see for a while. Doha is dead, the Trans-Pacific Partnership still hasn't materialized, and all of the momentum on trade policy is to move towards
futile gesturesclosure. The dynamic, growing economy is not looking so dynamic, and those deep capital markets are getting extremely jittery.
And this week? Oddly, I find myself more on the "glass half full" side, for a few reasons. First, Congress finally cleared the decks on the three outstanding trade deals, so that looks a bit less embarrassing. Second, there does appear to be genuine enthusiasm inside the administration for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and a recognition that this would be a neat-o deliverable for the upcoming APEC summit in Honolulu. Third, my own conversation with State Department officials suggest that they've got a decent read on which geographic regions should be the focus of which initiatives. Fourth , dwindling resources doesn't mean no resources -- the U.S. still has some formidable foreign economic policy arrows in its quiver.
The most important reason I'm more optimistic, however, is that the Secretary will be doing two things with this speech that speeches can actually accomplish. A speech can act as a form of reassurance to other countries that the United States gets it -- economics is a vital component of foreign policy, and Washington is ready to play.
A speech can also signal to the foreign policy bureaucracy that there's a shift in priorities, and they had better get on the train if they want to
get promoted make a difference. If foreign service officers see that a familiarity with economics is a key for advancement, then the United States will develop a diplomatic corps that doesn't run away screaming in terror seem distracted if the words "exchange rates" or "geographic indicators" are uttered.
Watch the speech yourself -- it will be webcast at 8:30 AM -- and let me know what you think in the comments.
My favorite campaign novel remains
Anonymous' Joe Klein's Primary Colors, and one of my favorite exchanges in that book takes place in the early part, when a campaign flack is trying to get a New York Times political reporter to cover a policy speech that would ostensibly contain a shot at a rival candidate:
[The reporter says,] "Do you think this election is going to be about welfare reform?"
"Well, that's part of it," I said. "The folks seem interested. What do you think it's going to be about?"
"What it's always about," he said. "Sex and violence."
And he was right: this was about violence.
I bring this up because Jonathan Martin's story about Jon Huntsman's dysfunctional presidential campaign in Politico is all about the violence -- in this case, the internecine warfare between Huntsman's longtime friends and his campaign manager John Weaver.
Now, Huntsman's chances of winning the nomination were pretty slim to begin with, so you might be wondering why your humble blogger is writing about this particular story [STOP PRE-EMPTING ME!!!!--ed.] I think there are three reasons.
First, I'd expect decent odds that Huntsman would be the secretary of state in any incoming GOP administration (quick, name me an alternate candidate with sufficient gravitas). Even if he's a sideshow to the current GOP nomination, he wouldn't be if a Republican won in 2012. A story like this, on the other hand, might not help his chances to land a cabinet post.
This leads to the second interesting question, however, which is whether we can jettison the implicit correlation between assembling a well-run campaign and a well-run government. By all accounts, Hillary Clinton's campaign was even more dysfunctional in 2008, and at least one veteran of that campaign admitted to flashbacks after reading Martin's story. That said, there hasn't been that much criticism of Clinton's management of the foreign-policy machine. Maybe managing a campaign is just a wee bit different from managing a political bureaucracy, or negotiating with other actors in world politics.
The final note is, oddly, reassuring. From Martin's story:
Huntsman’s early staffing was so bare-bones that the campaign didn’t even have a policy director, or standard white papers. It left Huntsman himself relying on papers prepared by the American Enterprise Institute to bone up on the issues....
[T]he campaign has suffered early organizational challenges -- and not just with departing personnel.
With no policy director initially, Huntsman was relying on position papers from the American Enterprise Institute to serve as his briefings.
On June 25, four days after the former governor’s announcement, but well after he had put together his basic campaign infrastructure, [disgruntled former campaign aide David] Fischer sent the candidate a blunt note.
“I am concerned about the slow pace of assembling your policy team,” Fischer wrote. [Finance consultant] Jim McCray called me today and he mentioned that donors often ask for a specific policy white paper. We don’t have them.”
Huntsman has since added a policy director to the campaign. (emphasis added)
It's very easy to become cynical about presidential campaigns and conclude that it's all about the
dirty tactics opposition research. Discovering that early backers and donors actually care about, you know, policy substance, is kind of encouraging.
Unfortunately, Martin's story itself will likely make it that much harder for Huntsman to assemble a decent policy shop. Policy advisors want to glom onto campaigns that are ideologically palatable but also have a decent chance of winning. Any undecided policy wonks who were Huntsman-curious will read this story and run to Mitt Romney's campaign.
According to the Associated Press, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dropped many pretenses and bluntly explained the birds, the bees, and the bombs with respect to the Sino-American relationship:
The U.S. risks falling behind China in the competition for global influence as Beijing woos leaders in the resource-rich Pacific, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday.
Her unusually strong comments before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are certain to anger the communist power, especially in light of Chinese President Hu Jintao's recent high-profile visit to Washington, seen as boosting trust and trade between the world's two largest economies....
[S]he told senators, "We are a competition for influence with China. Let's put aside the humanitarian, do-good side of what we believe in. Let's just talk straight realpolitik. We are in competition with China."
She noted a "huge energy find" in Papua New Guinea by U.S. company Exxon Mobil Corp., which has begun drilling for natural gas there. Clinton said China was jockeying for influence in the region and seeing how it could "come in behind us and come in under us."....
Clinton also said China had brought all the leaders of small Pacific nations to Beijing and "wined them and dined them."...
Charles Freeman, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said the U.S. was "unquestionably" involved in a "soft power competition with China. But this isn't a hard power, Cold War exercise." (emphasis added)
So this is how soft power works! I can picture the scene......
[Setting: a small banquet hall. Violin music is playing in the background. A sumptuous feast is on a table, as are two large, empty wine glasses.]
CHINA: Say, we sure would love to get exclusive drilling rights to your offshore oil discoveries.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA: I'm not sure I should even be here. I mean, we've been in a long relationship with the United States. So many memories....
CHINA: Well, where is the United States right now? I don't see them paying as much attention to you as they should be.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA: America is a little short on cash now. Washington keeps saying that it will change, but... I've heard that song too many times before. The USA keeps saying, "it's not you, it's me." (grimaces)
CHINA: Say, have you tried the 1960 cheval blanc? It really is heavenly. (pours wine)
PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Oh. Oh my. Well, who would be hurt by an exploratory agreement? (lights dim)
OK, somewhat more seriously, Clinton's comments need to be put into perspective:
Clinton railed against cuts sought by Republican to the U.S. foreign aid program....
America's top diplomat accused China of supporting a dictatorial government in Fiji, where plans to reopen an office of the U.S. Agency for International Development would be shelved under a resolution passed last month by the Republican-led House. That measure proposes sharp cuts to foreign assistance, including a $21 million program to help Pacific islands vulnerable to rising sea levels, as part of efforts to rein in government spending....
She said foreign assistance was important on humanitarian and moral grounds, but also strategically essential for America's global influence.
"I mean, if anybody thinks that our retreating on these issues is somehow going to be irrelevant to the maintenance of our leadership in a world where we are competing with China, where we are competing with Iran, that is a mistaken notion," Clinton said.
Clinton is correct in the short term. If I was the foreign policy budget czar, I'd be transferring at least $100 billion from DoD to State on the premise that problem prevention is always more cost-effective than problem-solving.
The "China is going to eat our lunch" meme is a popular one in Washington for domestic reasons -- it's a great argument to motivate policy. The Obama administration is going to this well an awful lot, however. My concern is that this rhetorical device doesn't lead to any genuine policy change but does lead to blowback - i.e., it scares the crap out of everyone in DC. That's the worst of both worlds.
What do you think?
In light of Hamid Karzai's agreement to go forward on a run-off election in Afghanistan, I was curious about special envoy Richard Holbrooke's role in this denouement. Jon Western links to this Nukes & Spooks McClatchy blog post chock-full of some inside dirt:
Three administration officials, who asked not to be identified by agency, told us that, while Holbrooke is laboring away hard behind the scenes, he's received direct orders from the White House to cool it publicly while Washington desperately tries to unscramble the Afghan electoral mess between President Hamid Karzai and his main challenger, Abdullah Abdullah.
"This process is so sensitive. He'd love to deal with this. The White House thinks ... it's not the time for him" to be out front, one of the officials said of Holbrooke...
To be fair -- and we do try to be fair here at N&S, we're told that the White House orders are not directed at Holbrooke alone. Everyone involved in Af/Pak policy has been told to keep a lid on it while President Obama deals with the difficult decision of how to keep the situation there from dropping into the abyss and whether to send more American servicemen and women to Afghanistan.
I'm beginning to wonder if Hoobrooke is simply the exemplar of the bad cop in foreign affairs. For his sake, I hope so. Otherwise, he's stuck being an envoy to a region in which the Indians won't talk to him, the Afghans won't talk to hi, and the Pakistanis that will talk to him are feckless.
According to one Western diplomat, the Afghan president was more comfortable dealing with Sen. Kerry than with U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry or the administration's special representative to the region, Richard Holbrooke. Mr. Holbrooke angered Mr. Karzai when he suggested shortly after the Aug. 20 election that a runoff might be needed.
Watch this space at 1 PM Eastern time today, as I'll be liveblogging Hillary Clinton's speech today to the Council on Foreign Relations.
3:00 PM: State Department website back online -- here's a link to the text of the speech.
2:07 PM: That's a wrap, people -- State Department website still down, OK speech. I'll leave the post-game analysis to the commenters.
2:05 PM: Haass closes by asking Clinton what her biggest surprise was in her first six months. Pivots the question by pointing out the difficulties of getting people confirmed. She ends graciously, faux acknowledging that now she realizes what a pain she must have been as a Senator when she queried Foggy Bottom.
2:04 PM: A Boeing guy asks what the State Department will be doing on export promotion and commercial diplomacy. Clinton finesses the question by saying she takes the economic dimension of foreign policy seriously, arguing that economic components cannot be separated from foreign policy.
2:00 PM: Bob Lieber asks a question (he thinks the previous queries have been creampuffs). If other engagement efforts don't work, can the U.S. live with a nuclear Iran? Clinton's response: "I'm not going to negotiate with Iran sitting here." Basically says that she's not optimistic about direct negotiations with Iran, but argues that outsourcing U.S. diplomacy to the EU-3 really didn't work either.
1:55 PM: Good question about the policy dividends received to date from NATO allies on re-engaging allies. Clinton's answer here was both candid and good -- i.e., this is not going to be easy, fears and anxieties need to be assuaged, we're hoping for more progress in the future. Then she wandered into agricultural aid in Afganistan and I lost my focus there for a second.
1:50 PM: State Department website still down, by the way.
1:49 PM: Gets spoon-fed a question that allows her to elaborate on the new Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, patterned after the DoD's Quadrennial Defense Review (more here from Spencer Ackerman).
1:47 PM: Point-blank question about whether George Mitchell allowed that the completion of in-construction housing settlements in the occupied territories would be permitted. Clinton ducks the question faster than Peyton Manning facing the New York Giants pass rush.
1:42 PM: Question about India. Responds by pointing out how strong the bilateral dialogue is, yadda, yadda, yadda. Sounds a bit more skeptical about engaging India (or a bit less briefed, take your pick).
1:41 PM: Glenn Kessler's take on the speech. Intriguingly, there's nothing about the speech on the front of the New York Times website.
1:40 PM: Question about Iran. Acknowledges that a post-election regime "puts a different complexion" on the government. Nothing new, however.
1:35 PM: First question is on Palestine and Syria, whether she sees progress. Her words say "maybe", but her tone says no. Haass asks a good follow-up question on Hamas' role. Clinton responds with boilerplate -- no change in the U.S. position.
1:34 PM: OK, speech over -- let's get to the Q&A which is always more interesting)!
1:31 PM: Fires a warning shot across Timothy Geithner's bow by saying she wants to upgrade the State Deprtment's role in foreign economic policy. I don't have a problem with that -- so long as the State Department officials actually know what they're talking about. Also echoes SecDef Bob Gates' numerous speeches on this topic.
1:29 PM: Ah, Clinton clears up the idea of leveraging traditional sources of U.S. power -- she's talking about exemplarism. Abolishing torture, reducing nuclear weapons, getting serious on global warming, having the U.S. as a shining city on a hill, etc. She throughs in narco-trafficking into this section, and I'm not entuirely sure how that fits.
1:25 PM: Hmm.... State Department's website is now down. Read into this what you will.
1:24 PM: On development, admits that the U.S. has given less as a percentage of GDP compared to other advanced industrialized states. That sound you hear is the Center for Global Development jumping up for joy.
1:21 PM: The Iran section -- Clinton "appalled" by Iranian government action, but thinks not dealing with the Islamic Republic doesn't solve anything. Acknowledges that the prospects of success have declined in recent weeks. Still thinks its worth making the genuine offer for direct talks. Recognizes Iran's right to civilian nuclear power, conditional on complying with the IAEA, but not a right to the military use of nuclear power.
1:13 PM: Clinton lists her travel schedule for the rest of the year. Not-so-subtle message: "Hey, you people who think I'm doing nothing? Piss off."
1:11 PM: Ah, here's the meat of the speech: the five pillars of Clinton's "smart power" approach:
That last one is a bit vague to me, so we'll see how that develops.
1:10 PM: So far, with the emphasis newtworks of non-state actors, "partnerships with people," and the emphasis on burnishing global governance structures, I'm seeing Anne-Marie Slaughter's fingerprints all over this sucker.
1:08 PM: Repeating a trope of President Obama's, there are some passages here where Clinton talks about how old IR concepts are out of date. Disdains 19th century great power concerts and 20th century balance of power coalitions. Replacing a "multipolar" world with a "multi-partner" world. Meh.
1:05 PM: Cute, flip remark comparing U.S. foreign policy under the Bush administration to her elbow -- wounded, but getting better.
1:04 PM: An unsurprising laundry list of policy goals. Free ponies are not discussed, which is too bad.
1:03 PM: According to Hillary, multi-tasking is a gender-laden term. Who knew? Well, besides women, of course.
1:01 PM: Talks about how President Obama has stressed "common interests, shared values, and mutual cooperation." No mention of what happens when there's, you know, a divergence of values.
12:59 PM: Clinton immediately pulls what I'll call an Obama -- observing that the very sources of American vulnerability (interdependence, openness, etc.) are also our sources of strength. It's a neat rhetorical trick.
12:57 PM: And we're off -- a few minutes early, no less!
12:55 PM: In an unconscious sign of how members of the foreign policy community prioritize things, I find it interesting that CFR president Richard Haass is moderating Clinton's speech, whereas Rogert Altman was the moderator when Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner came to speak.
11:21 AM: FP's own Laura Rozen provides an excellent backgrounder to the speech itself.
The speech matters for the future of U.S. foreign policy and Hillary Clinton's role in it. I had a conversation with a prominent foreign policy professional who characterized Hillary Clinton as the most "invisible" Secretary of State he's seen to date. I think this is partly due to her restricted travel during the elbow injury, partly due to her lack of confirmed subordinates, partly due to Barack Obama's genuine interest in foreign affairs, and mostly due to her style.
If memory serves, when Clinton was elected Senator of New York she put her nose to the grindstone and did nothing flashy for the first six months. In the process, she won the respect of colleagues on both sides of the aisle. I suspect something similar has been going on for most of this year.
Dean Stephen Bosworth sent out the following e-mail to the Fletcher School community less than an hour ago:
In the past few weeks, you have most likely seen news reports of my possible appointment as Special Representative for North Korea Policy. I have wanted to keep you informed but naturally could not comment until Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had made a formal announcement. Now that she has done so, I can confirm that I have accepted her offer.
This honor comes at a truly critical time as the Obama Administration begins to develop its strategy for engaging with
. I will serve as the North Korea U.S.representative to the six-party talks, which seek to find a peaceful resolution to security issues on the . Korean Peninsula
I want to assure you that, with the full support of our President Lawrence S. Bacow, our Chairman of the Board of Overseers Peter Ackerman, and Fletcher’s senior leadership team, I will continue to serve as Dean and will work to ensure Fletcher remains the world standard for graduate institutions of international affairs. My commitment to The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy is undiminished.
Here's the Korea Times coverage on the announcement.
The hard-working staff here at Danieldrezner.com wishes Dean Bosworth the best of luck in getting Pyongyang to agree to, er, anything. As I said last week, "trying to manage faculty meetings at the Fletcher school is excellent prep work for negotiating with the obsteperous officials of the DPRK."
My second National Interest column in a week is now online, and evaluates the recent high-profile appointments at the State department. Let's just say I'm wary:
There are rumors aplenty of fierce battles within Foggy Bottom between the special envoys and undersecretaries for coveted offices on the seventh floor (where Clinton will be). As Daniel Markey points out, foreign policy for south Asia has been a “toxic mix of turf battles.” Holbrooke is simply another bureaucratic entrepreneur (one opposed by the Indians, by the way). The Obama administration is already having difficulties finding someone who would agree to serve as assistant secretary of state for south Asia. This is because, to put it gently, the transaction costs of dealing with Holbrooke can be high. Similarly, the relationship between Mitchell and Dennis Ross, who has been touted to be a “super-envoy” for the Middle East, remains unclear.
There is one, final, sobering thought. The person who will be directing this great game of diplomatic egos will be Hillary Clinton.
Read the whole thing. And in the interest of fairness, check out Jacob Heilbrunn's more optimistic take on yesterday's scene at Foggy Bottom. This is one issue where I sincerely hope that I am wrong and Heilbrunn is right.
I expected the multiple choice, or “Job Knowledge,” section to be the most interesting in terms of the priorities the questions revealed. I once imagined the Foreign Service to be a glamorous collection of pinstriped polymaths. And indeed, the sample question leading into the multiple-choice section (“What jazz musician helped introduce bebop?”) tested the sort of knowledge you can imagine needing to whip out to enliven an embassy reception. But “Job Knowledge” is a tiny fraction of the entire written test—just one of four sections on the exam, and not even the longest. I was given 40 minutes to answer 60 questions. There were no tricky vocabulary words or esoteric concepts, no special strategies to digest. There was one question on world religion. One on European history. One on George W. Bush’s tax cut. One on the U.S. Congress. One on the political leanings of the American media. There was nothing on oil, nothing on terrorism, nothing on Iraq or Afghanistan or China. Indeed, the questions were all the sort of stuff a regular newspaper reader with only a passing knowledge of American politics and history would be well-prepared to answer. As I clicked through the questions, I was surprised to see a large number—probably one sixth of the total—read like a pastiche of management-consultant jargon. I clicked through puzzlers about motivating employees, corporate restructuring, and organizational conflict management. A sample captures the feel: “A work group that has high performance norms and low cohesiveness will most likely have which of the following levels of performance: (A) Very high (B) High (C) Moderate (D) Low.” “Job Knowledge” also included questions anyone who’s turned on a computer in the last five years should be able to answer: “It is common practice of e-mail users to have some specific text automatically appear at the bottom of their sent messages. This text is called their …?” As I checked my answers, I counted silently. Almost half of the questions dealt with subjects that had nothing to do with politics, economics, history, or culture. Whoever designed the exam decided to devote about 20 minutes of it to testing what applicants know about the United States and the rest of the world. If you took out the questions on American politics, culture, and economics, you’d have even less. By my calculations, that means only about 10 minutes of the Foreign Service written exam requires any specific knowledge of—or even interest in—anything “foreign.”I'd be curious to hear from FSOs about whether Curry is exaggerating or accurately depicting the deficiencies of the test.
Daniel W. Drezner is professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.