The Foreign Service Journal, January-February 2022

22 JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2022 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL Engaging state and local actors in international diplomacy will help the State Department address the national security challenges of the 21st century. BY MARYUM SA I F EE S ubnational diplomacy, the act of engaging state and local actors in foreign policy, is essential if we are to solve the increasingly complex national security challenges of the 21st century. Over the last decade, subna- tional actors have increased their footprint on important global issues, frompandemic response to climate resilience and refugee integration. Building more connective tis- sue betweenmayors and governors across the United States and bureaucrats inWashington, D.C., enables the State Department to also craft a more inclusive foreign policy, one that will resonate withmore Americans. To pave the way for a departmentwide subnational diplomacy strategy, advocates need tomake the national security case for why that matters. As the concept gains institutional traction and buy-in, the department should start tomainstream subnational diplomacy into policies, programs and processes. Last andmost important, once coordinationmechanisms are established, the department must sustainmomentumby nourish- ing subnational networks and investing in the broader ecosystem. Subnational Diplomacy ANational Security Imperative Maryum Saifee is a career Foreign Service officer and senior adviser in the Secretary’s Office of Diver- sity and Inclusion. Her overseas postings include Cairo, Baghdad, Erbil and Lahore. In Washington, D.C., she has served in the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues, the Secretary’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs and the Bureau of International Organization Affairs. As a visiting senior fellow at the Truman Center for National Policy, she led the task force that produced the Truman Center’s March 2021 report, “Transforming State: Pathways to a More Just, Equitable, and Innovative Institution.” The views in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent those of the State Department or the U.S. government. FOCUS ON SUBNATIONAL DIPLOMACY YANNBLINDSALIDA