The Foreign Service Journal, January-February 2019
92 JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2019 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL the Maine Democratic Party. He began his international career in 1990 as an election trainer and observer with the National Democratic Institute. He then served as founding director of USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives, promoting democratic change in con- flict-prone countries; deputy high com- missioner of the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR; co-director of a post- conflict reconstruction project with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where he led conflict-related studies on Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan and Pakistan; and U.S. Representative to the U.N. Economic and Social Council. Barton brought this rich and relevant experience to his next job, as Secretary Hillary Clinton’s pick to head the newly created State Department Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO) in 2012. The latest organizational result of a recurrent struggle within the State Department over the nature and structure of the U.S. civilian response to foreign conflicts and unstable countries, CSO became operational in 2011. On taking office there, Barton writes, he “believed that the new structure could gain traction and drive convergence of policy and practice in conflict settings.” He decided to refocus the bureau on five engagements deemed to be impor- Pursuing Peace with Proactive Diplomacy PeaceWorks: America’s Unifying Role in a Turbulent World Rick Barton, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2018, $35/Hardcover; $17.82/Kindle, 312 pages. Reviewed by J. R. Bullington Rick Barton is passionate about peace. Yet he is no pacifist. His lengthy career has been focused on conflicts and how American diplomacy, economic development and humanitarian aid can be used to avoid them, if possible, or bring them to a successful end and build long-term stability to preclude their recurrence. That’s what this book is about. It uses stories, history and analysis to develop lessons and policy prescriptions for American involvement—or its avoid- ance—in foreign conflicts. First, in the spirit of full disclosure, my Foreign Service career was also in large measure focused on conflict— from my first overseas assignment, in wartime Vietnam from 1965 to 1968, to my post-retirement recall to active duty as a special envoy in Senegal to help end a 30-year secessionist insurgency in the southern part of that country, the Casamance, from 2012 to 2014. In the latter assignment, Rick Barton was my boss, as assistant secretary of the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations to which I reported. He was a good boss, both empowering and sup- portive, and I hold him in high regard. Born in Buenos Aires, Rick accompa- nied his Foreign Service family on sev- eral assignments. After graduating from Harvard, he became a congressional staffer, ran unsuccessfully for a Maine congressional seat and was chairman of BOOKS tant but of manageable size, and that could achieve visible results in a year: • Supporting the then-emerging Syr- ian opposition to Assad with nonlethal aid and government transition training; • Preventing widespread violence that seemed likely to accompany the 2013 national election in Kenya; • Reducing the sabotage and civil conflict plaguing the oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria; • Calming the longstanding ethnic conflict in the Kayah state of Burma; and • Countering gang violence in Hon- duras that was driving refugees to the United States. In addition to these top-priority projects, Barton agreed that CSO could also take on a few smaller projects else- where—among them, my Casamance project. “The immensity of starting something new in a recalcitrant organization,” Barton writes, “showed up on a daily basis.” Also, although he does not explic- itly address this issue in the book, the departure at the end of 2012 of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who had cham- pioned the concept of building a more effective conflict response capacity and the creation of CSO, seemed to result in a loss of direction for the bureau. Despite these problems, CSO pro- duced several small-scale successes. The Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations’ most enduring and influential accomplishment, though, may be the development of sophisticated research and analysis on conflicts and planning tools to address them.