Posts Tagged ‘dip;lomacy’


America’s other army

Wednesday 7 November, 2012

I attended a presentation by Nicholas Kralev, author of a new book, America’s Other Army:  the US Foreign Service & 21st century diplomacy.   Why does he & should we care about diplomacy?  When the Berlin Wall fell, it changed his life, as well as those of many others, as US foreign policy & diplomacy brought the wall down.  He tried to answer 3 questions in his research:

  1. why should we care about diplomacy?
  2. what is diplomacy in 2012?
  3. what do US diplomats do?

He spoke with 7 Secretaries of State & 600 diplomats in 52 embassies & consulates, such as Cameron Munter, who served in Pakistan & Serbia, Yuri Kim, who served in Turkey & North Korea, Gavin Sundwall, who served in Afghanistan, & David Lindwall, who sold American weapons to other countries, including Iraq.  He also helped reform the Guatemalan child adoption system, (the 3rd largest source of foreign adopted children for the US), & the Chilean judicial system.

Kralev sees the duties of the foreign service as these:

  • teach governance
  • negotiate nuclear pacts
  • organize cultural events
  • sell weapons
  • help countries recover from natural disasters
  • promote US businesses
  • facilitate passports, visas, etc.

The National Security Strategy focuses on these issues:

  • prevent conflict
  • promote economic growth
  • strengthen states
  • lift countries out of poverty
  • combat climate change

The US promotes it’s own national interest by promoting other country’s security & prosperity, & by instilling the values of human rights, democracy, & equality.  The underlying premise is that the only way the US can be stable is for the rest of the world to be stable, & for the US to be successful, we need more growth economies.

The mission of the foreign service is not to promote democracy per se, rather transformational diplomacy which promotes good governance, rather than dealing with the world as it is, as in traditional diplomacy.  Traditional democracy simply manages foreign relations, represents the interests of the US, assists citizens abroad, & addresses transnational issues.  Transformational diplomacy promotes accountability, responsibility, respect, & provides economic opportunity.

Kralev compares resources with the military with a $600B budget for 1.4M members, to those of the Dept. of State with $53B for 13K Americans & 44K locally-engaged-staff.

The US works on humanizing it’s diplomacy with not just the Dept. of State, but also the Foreign Commercial Service of the Dept. of Commerce, & Agriculture Dept. to both foreigners & the American public.  Obama has tried to get us on a level playing field by working with local governments & matchmaking for businesses.  US companies complain about our effectiveness despite the many connections of locally-engaged-staff.

9/11 was a shock to the system, & led to an identity crisis for the foreign service, which requires new skills & duties.  Insufficient training is being beefed up.  For those who work there, American diplomacy is weaved into the fabric of people’s lives.  The system rewards those who learn fast & get things done.  Kralev’s criticisms are that the foreign service lacks a strategic vision, such that no 1 has a vision of what the foreign service should look like in 10 years.


  • most postings last 3 years, but Iraq & Afghanistan are 1 year posts, & posts used to be able to be extended to 4 years.  The problem is diplomats are only effective 1 of each of those 3 years.  The 1st year is spent learning the ropes & the last year is spent lobbying for the next post, so the only productive year is year 2.
  • locally-engaged-staff complain about pay, benefits, & continually training new bosses, but have low turnover & are well-respected.
  • foreign service officers are trained in local languages, but Kralev couldn’t evaluate how well.  The foreign service tries to give each FSO @ least 2 languages.  He was told that each hire is a $5M investment.  In sum, in these positions, who you work for & what you work on are vitally important.

In the future, keep your eye on the Center on the Practice of Diplomacy


President of Turkey on their economic & foreign policy priorities

Wednesday 20 June, 2012

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs hosted Abdullah Gül, President of Turkey.  Here’s a summary of his address:

Turkey is expanding it’s diplomatic forces by opening 21 embassies in Latin America, 34 in Africa, & more.  Turkey has the 2nd fastest growing economy in the world, trailing only China, with GDP tripling & trade volume quadrupling in the last decade.  Turkey joined NATO in 1952, but is it merely an ally of NATO?  They must balance the freedom granted its citizens with the rights given to those citizens.  It’s geography/location make Turkey a center of trade, literally as well as figuratively.  They have only recently reached out to countries in their own region to build bridges with them & have been quite successful @ it.  Many democratic reforms started in 2003 which enhanced human rights & the rule of law.  Have the Turks been too ambitious & independent?  It depends on how you see the values of the free world.  It’s in the interest of everyone to change in the right direction.  Turkey was elevated to the 3rd level of the G20.  Diplomatically, Turkey is most active in Syria & Yemen, where they are in touch with the opposition as well as those in power.  Dictatorships & democracies don’t change easily.  The highest priority is cooperation within the region.  They have no choice but to pursue a solution.  Turkey has a large assistance program for Afghanistan, opening hospitals, etc.  Afghanistan’s future lies in the hands of its own people.  Turkey gets along well with the US, & seeks a diplomatic multiplier in cooperation in the Middle East.  Turkey will be the President of the G20 2015-16.

Turkey must reform constantly.  Here are some of the reforms which are needed:

  • become more investment & trade-friendly
  • address the budget deficit that’s 1.4% of GDP & public debt that’s 39% of GDP
  • strengthen banks, which have already been growing @ 9%
  • create  jobs, on par with 4M the last 3 years
  • bring predictability to policy choices
  • new incentives for investment
  • increase productivity with vocational training (after the visit in Chicago, he’s off to Silicon Valley)
  • strive to become a virtuous power with mutual cooperation towards common goals, recognizing the value of partnerships,  & not by imposing things on people


  • Gül believes a 2-state solution is rational & realistic for Israel & Palestine
  • Women should be included in democracy, in Morocco & elsewhere
  • As Turkey approaches it’s 100 year anniversary, their vision for scientific infrastructure is to be 1 top 10 economy by 2023, therefore economic development must mobilize an R&D focus, indicated by an increase from 70 to 170 universities in the last 10 years
  • Turkey participated on behalf of NATO in evacuations of Libya with 2 ships & 6 planes
  • domestic violence exists in Turkey & the media loves to cover it, but it’s no worse than in other places