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J U L Y - A UGU S T 2 0 1 1 / F OR E I GN S E R V I C E J OU R N A L
n May 16, the AFSA Book Notes
program presented former U.S.
Ambassador to Yemen Edmund
Hull, who discussed his new book
Value Target: Countering Al Qaeda in
AsAFSAPresident Susan Johnson
stated in introducingHull, the releaseof this
book could hardly be timelier, given the
recent demise of Osama bin
Amb. Hull laid out three
main propositions for effec-
tive U.S. diplomacy in the
fight against al-Qaida. First,
the StateDepartment should
place more emphasis on
learning fromexperience and
tappingbest practices. Draw-
ing on his own experiences,
Hull explained that the State
Department hires smart peo-
ple and provides them with
training, but much of what
FSOs learn is dependent on the leaders
under whom they work.
Although every FSO cannot work
under a great leader, there is a lot they can
learnfromwhat has beendone in the past.
Hull cited the example of how George
Kennananalyzed the sources of Soviet con-
duct. Emphasizing thebest practices devel-
oped by U.S. diplomats over the years
would improve the State Department as a
learning institution and allow for greater
capacity for growth.
Broad Solutions Needed
Hull’s second proposition was that an
effective counterterrorismstrategy cannot
be conceived of as a purely intelligence or
military issue— the scope of the solution
must be broad enough to cover the prob-
lem. During Hull’s ambassadorship in
Yemen (2001-2004), thismeant linking the
security issues that are important in
Washington to thedevelopment issues that
are important inSana’a. Hull stressed that
it is critical to gain the ‘buy-in’ of the peo-
ple, as well as of the government.
Finally, Amb. Hull’s third proposition
is that the embassy country team is an
effective mechanism for a government-
wide effort, but it needs effective support.
One of Hull’s goals inwriting
was to demonstrate howmuch his
team accomplished despite having few
resources. He maintains that their suc-
cesses will save more costly expenditures
onmilitary operations in the future. The
Foreign Service has taken on many new
responsibilities in the area of counterter-
rorism, but the resources provided are not
yet commensurate with those responsi-
During the subsequent discussion,
Amb. Hull faced a series of questions on
the future of U.S. policy in the region, the
potential impact of theArabSpring and the
role of the State Department in counter-
terrorism efforts.
CNN’s Elise Labott asked how a pos-
sible regime change in Sana’a could affect
U.S. counterterror efforts inYemen. Hull
answered that, althoughPres. Ali Abdullah
Saleh was important to U.S. efforts in the
country, the partnership between theU.S.
and Yemen is broader than any one man,
and will continue.
The Arab Spring
The retired ambassador added that in
the long termitwouldbe good for theU.S.
—and bad for al-Qaida—if there were a
smooth transition from Saleh to a more
popular president. Al-Qaida’s goals to
establish an Islamic caliphate and imple-
ment strict sharia law do not answer the
plight of today’s revolutionaries inYemen,
and across the region. Rather, the rights
beingdemandedby today’s youtharemore
in line with the values of democratic gov-
FSJ Editorial Board
Chairman Ted Wilkinson
asked Hull whether he
thought it necessary tomain-
tain a “one size fits all” poli-
cy toward the protests, or
whether the current country-
by-country approach is
preferable. Amb.Hull agreed
that the differences among
individual political situations
warrant the country-by-
country approach, but cau-
tioned thatWashington and
the international community should not
allow Yemen to drift toward al-Qaida.
Amb.Hull urged theU.S. toworkwith
its allies toprevent the terror network from
gaining breathing room. He praised the
work of U.S. allies, including the U.K.,
Jordan, Germany and theNetherlands, for
theirworkon training theYemenimilitary
and police, and on development issues.
He also noted positive growth in the
Gulf CooperationCouncil, and stated that
he hopes the GCC will take a similar pos-
ture towardYemenasEurope took toward,
for example, post-Franco Spain: recogniz-
ing the long-term importance of stabiliz-
ing the countryandbringing it into the fold.
Inconclusion, Amb.Hull stated that he
believes the Obama administration has a
counterterrorismstrategy for the region, is
actively addressing theproblemand is allo-
cating resources. Thequestionnow, he says,
is effective implementationof the strategy.
Hull ended with some optimism for the
future: the sooner theU.S. acts, the greater
its chances of success in the fight against al-
Amb. Edmund Hull discusses his new book at AFSA -HQ event on May 16.
AFSA Book Notes: Amb. Edmund Hull on
High-Value Target