The Foreign Service Journal, January-February 2022

20 JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2022 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL FOCUS ON SUBNATIONAL DIPLOMACY The FSJ Editorial Board offers thoughts to kick off an important policy discussion. BY THE FS J ED I TOR I AL BOARD On a NewApproach to City and State Diplomacy I t is surely a good thing that the conduct of U.S. foreign policy is the “primary responsibility” of the executive branch. Arti- cle II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution limits the president’s role as commander in chief to command authority over the Army, Navy and state militias, while also giving him or her the power to “make Treaties” and “appoint Ambassadors” (with the advice and consent of the Senate, of course). This fact ensures a minimum of coherence and unity of national purpose in our diplomatic engagement and prevents a potential kaleidoscope of conflicting interests and contradictory approaches from coming into play. Imagine having 535 separate foreign policies, and that’s just for starters before we throw state and municipal-level represen- tatives into the mix. It wouldn’t necessarily end there, either. At the same time, the true power and resilience of our federal system is often attributed not just to checks and balances, but to the numerous levels and “sublevels” of government—a dense patchwork of political organization that extends up, across and down to the state, county, municipality, community, neighbor- hood and even school. Of these, the federal government is the level furthest removed from the realities, needs and interests of actual people. So finding a concrete way to ensure that the inter- ests of all Americans are reflected in the nation’s foreign policy seems like a commonsense idea. This idea becomes more compelling in light of the increas- ingly global nature of diplomatic challenges in a more and more interconnected world, whose effects (it turns out) are often most acutely felt and experienced at local levels—in states, cities, towns and rural communities. Never has it seemed so important to be YANNBLINDSALIDA