Using a phrase from her Senate confirmation hearings, Dr. Rice gave a broad outline of the sea change about to happen at the State Department.
In a speech at Georgetown University, reported by The Washington Times Insider, the Secretary of State outlined broad changes at Foggy Bottom:
|The United States will shift hundreds of its diplomats from Washington and Europe to emerging countries over the next few years as part of a broad reconfiguration of the Foreign Service and its mission… U.S. envoys would be asked to spend less time on traditional diplomacy — monitoring political developments and talking to officials — and more time traveling outside the capitals “to help foreign citizens better their own lives.”|
|The United States has “nearly the same number of State Department personnel in Germany — a country of 82 million people — that we have in India — a country of 1 billion people,” she said. There are “nearly 200 cities worldwide with over 1 million people in which the United States has no formal diplomatic presence.”|
Perhaps, Dr. Rice, we could begin with a more visible presence in the Ivory Coast? Ivorians could certainly use some of that transformational diplomacy now that the French have had their way with them.
We could call it “transformational compassionate diplomacy.” Anything to annoy the French.
I listed to most of Dr Rice’s speech on C-Span radio. As you pointed out, she said we were going to immediately redeploy diplomatic personnel out of Europe where they are grossly overstaffed in proportion to the importance of their mission, and out of Washiongton, to the new front lines of diplomacy in the emerging nations. I’ll bet that move will be popular in Foggy Bottom.
She also said that budgetary realities mean all these people will not be in nice fancy consulates, but may be in one-person “American Presence Posts”.
The speech is here
It’s about time for redeployment. The Eurocentrism of our military and diplomatic posture makes absolutely no sense in the 21st century. I remember I was appalled that Clinton let India go a couple of years without even appointing an Ambassador (he was probably waiting for a good offer)
Now, for God’s sake, lets get 90% of our troops out of Europe. We don’t need a huge presence in Germany to support operations in the middle east. It’s a great gig for the troops there, and very popular with the German politicians (anti-US rhetoric notwithstanding) as you will see from the howls when we start to move them out.
Oh, my! That is one of the best and most radical changes in a department I have heard in a very long time. Wait until Congress gets wind of it. Between all the members of state that have done their best to bring down President Bush’s foreign policy and the Democrats it will be a fine broughaha. Almost as good as the supreme court nomination circus.
At least part of this is an acknowldgement of the new political reality over this side of the atlantic. The EU has decided that it wants to be the sole point of contact for diplomacy between the world and EU member states. Drop down to New York or Washington and you’ll see that most EU member embassies are starting to reduce their staff, and in some countries around the world they’ve already been closed and replaced with an “EU” embassy. Anyway, with this in mind, it makes even more sense for the US to start shutting its missions; there’s no point in maintaining anything more than a few regional consulates now, much as it pains me to say it…