The Foreign Service Journal, September 2011

S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L 5 This issue of AFSA’s Foreign Service Journal focuses on the impact of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on American diplomacy. With a decade’s per- spective, we must ask whether terrorism is the central chal- lenge to our national security and in- terests, and whether diplomacy is less or more relevant in today’s world. It is debatable whether the 9/11 attacks could have been averted, but there is a body of opinion that walking away from Afghanistan after a decade-long engagement in the 1980s left a dan- gerous vacuum and was an error. As a global power, America needs to remain engaged around the world. This engagement has to be multidi- mensional and responsive to the broad range of contemporary challenges, rather than dominated by a narrow focus on any single threat. While the United States has fo- cused on countering international ter- rorism, for understandable reasons, other phenomena have been deter- mining the shape of international rela- tions. Today, the fundamental drivers of change include demographics, tech- nology and globalization, accompanied by the emergence of new power cen- ters and increased competition in com- merce, political influence and access to, and control of, resources. The fundamental role of diplomacy is to help manage these new forces through sustained dialogue and negotiation to promote our national interests and val- ues, while avoiding costly mil- itary conflict. For this basic purpose, a strong economy and political system are a sine qua non and diplomacy, along with de- fense and intelligence, is a critical tool. This is particularly true because the drivers of global change are amor- phous, with no defined or consistent center of gravity. They cannot be ad- dressed by military means alone. In- terestingly, it is our military and busi- ness sector leadership who seem to recognize this most clearly and who are speaking out most consistently on the need for investing more in diplomacy and development. Both former Secre- tary of Defense Robert Gates, and his successor, Leon Panetta, have called for the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Devel- opment to receive the resources they need to build strong, professional diplomatic and development services, in parallel with our outstanding pro- fessional military forces. The international situation is more complex than ever today. There are no neat solutions to either the longstand- ing conflicts in the Middle East, Asia, Africa andEurope, or to the newer ones emerging. Effective diplomacy is there- fore more challenging and more vital than ever before. New tools need to be mastered and old lessons relearned. Paradoxically, since 9/11 the value of diplomacy seems eclipsed by major military interventions, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is far from clear that the role of diplomacy and the need for a strong institutional basis and professional service are well under- stood or appreciated. The budget cutting called for under the various approaches to deficit re- duction being put forward seems set to damage our long under-resourced diplomatic and development services at the very moment when our national interests call for them to be strength- ened, including by more and better professional education and training. What can AFSA do? As the professional association rep- resenting active-duty and retiredmem- bers of the Foreign Service, we must organize ourselves for more effective and sustained advocacy for the re- sources we need, for reforms that in- volve innovative use of the resources we have, and for more education and training to ensure that we can recruit and develop the talent we need to build the premier diplomatic and de- velopment services America needs. The newly elected 2011-2013 AFSA Governing Board will focus on ways to do this at its strategic planning retreat in mid-September. I invite you to send your thoughts to in advance. P RESIDENT ’ S V IEWS Diplomacy after 9/11: More Important than Ever B Y S USAN R. J OHNSON