The Foreign Service Journal, January-February 2019
THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2019 27 it also began a concerted effort to develop initial economic sup- port and reform packages for countries from Turkey to Pakistan that would be affected by the repercussions of the 9/11 attacks. In this EB worked closely with the relevant State geographic bureaus, as well as with USAID, Treasury, USTR, the NSC and, eventually, the international finance institutions. One priority focus was Afghanistan, thinking through and building international support for economic and other nonmilitary assistance for that country following the initial military actions against the Taliban regime and al-Qaida. EB stepped into the breach to lead efforts to organize three international donor conferences focused on Afghanistan. In coordination with State regional bureaus, the EB team worked with the U.N. Development Program and the World Bank, as well as with Japan, the European Union and the Persian Gulf countries. This was an intensive effort. For weeks during the run-up to the first Tokyo donors conference on Afghanistan, for example, we held twice-daily phone calls with the Japanese and other key sponsors to develop what became an internationally agreed- upon framework for assistance needs, to rally initial aid pledges and to achieve the return of Afghan assets from around the world to help the fledgling government in Kabul. The initial conferences were considered a success, and the focus shifted correctly to work on the ground in Afghanistan. The Afghanistan conferences were precursors to subsequent, equally intense international reconstruction efforts led out of EB to help revive Iraq’s economy after toppling Saddam Hus- sein, to rebuild severely damaged parts of Southeast and South Asia after the 2004 tsunami and to support recovery from the terrible 2005 earthquake in Pakistan. In each of these cases, the economic teams at State, USAID and at our embassies around the world were essential in constructing international coali- tions and mobilizing many billions of dollars in aid to help key partners. These efforts all included the nitty-gritty work of interagency decision-making in Washington; initiating frequent outreach to other governments, NGOs and businesses to build agreement; organizing successful gatherings overseas; and beginning the complex work of delivering aid, as well as trying to encourage best practices in recipient countries. This was eco- nomic diplomacy in vigorous action, with the Foreign Service front and center. A Vast Array of Economic Diplomacy Issues Beyond these striking examples, the EB team used its partnerships among State, U.S. embassies and U.S. agency colleagues daily across a host of issues during these years. This work included helping to ensure U.S. and global energy security via sufficient oil production in the Persian Gulf; the develop- ment of new oil deposits in the Caspian region, Africa and elsewhere; and helping bring renewable and other alternative energy sources into play for the European Union and others. The work involved organizing demarches by our embassies to change specific unfair practices vis-á-vis U.S. intellectual property in economies around the world, from Canada to Tai- wan to Argentina. The work included building a new model for development assistance with the creation of the Millennium Challenge Corporation and a consensus on new development strategies among the Group of 8 countries. It entailed help- ing to engineer effective debt relief in Africa, for example, and getting our closest European partners to implement their anti- bribery commitments to level the field for U.S. companies and to reinforce good governance. These efforts also included vastly expanding the number of Open Skies agreements around the world to support travel and tourism. Economic officers have worked hard to ensure that the international growth of the internet and high tech supports America’s economic interests as well as its commit- ment to the free flow of information. Also important was the invaluable work done to support many trade negotiations, specific commercial disputes and important sales opportu- nities for U.S. companies in different countries. In scores of instances, Foreign Service officers in Washington and overseas were essential to achieving good outcomes. And this vital work continues. The United States needs well-crafted and skillfully imple- mented economic statecraft for its prosperity and security. It needs effective day-to-day economic diplomacy by its Foreign Service officers to ensure that America’s statecraft achieves the best for our country. n The debates in Washington were often intense, but Foreign Service expertise helped win interagency consensus on how to most effectively build an international coalition to staunch terrorist financing.