The Foreign Service Journal, September 2012

solving and enforcing norms when oth- ers flout them — to preserve a peace- ful and prosperous rules-based order. The strategy is not about the United States stepping back, but others step- ping up. The U.S. must continue serv- ing as a leader, guarantor of the system and a catalyst of collective crisis-man- agement. In addition, Washington’s traditional alliances with nations shar- ing democratic values remain a bedrock of U.S. foreign policy. Even so, there is a compelling case for bringing diverse emerging powers, including the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), into closer alignment on global chal- lenges, despite geostrategic rivalries. Executing the Responsibility Doctrine The Obama administration has al- ready implemented the responsibility doctrine in a variety of ways, using pos- itive as well as negative inducements. Standard elements of statecraft have a distinct place in this approach. Building strategic relationships. The responsibility doctrine calls for thickened working relations. Multi- agency dialogues help U.S. officials get to know their counterparts, build un- derstanding of other governments’ mo- tives and frameworks, and establish the channels needed to facilitate action. These processes also establish a context to track follow-through on old commitments and set timelines for new ones. Finally, they force the U.S. (and the other nations) to coordinate its own policies across multiple depart- ments, agencies and issue areas. In 2010, for example, the U.S. and India set up a foreign minister-led strategic dialogue that annually con- venes officials from across the two gov- ernments. The two governments also established working-level groups such as the Green Partnership, Agricultural Dialogue, Health Dialogue, and the Partnership on Innovation, as well as CEO and women’s forums. With China, the administration augmented an already dense web. The Strategic Economic Dialogue, ini- tiated by the George W. Bush admin- istration, expanded to become the “Strategic & Economic Dialogue,” with a new Strategic Security Dia- logue running in parallel. Regional and thematic fora on Latin America and Africa, an agricultural forum and clean energy partnership, among oth- ers, were also launched. The challenge for the now-famous “reset” of U.S.-Russian relations was to reverse a downward slide and cooper- ate where Washington and Moscow share common ground. This produced a historic arms reduction treaty with inspections, assistance on curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and a crucial NATO supply route for Afghanistan. Compartmentalizing. In rela- tionships between large countries, es- pecially those with differing political systems, disputes are bound to surface in some areas even when cooperation is possible in others. This tension is nothing new, but as more countries wield influence, it will certainly be- come more common. Obama administration officials have been able to manage serious differ- ences with emerging powers and still push forward where cooperation is possible. This past March, the admin- istration filed cases charging China with erecting trade barriers — prompting Beijing’s vehement protests — even as it collaborated with Beijing on a diplomatic strategy to relaunch talks on denuclearization with North Korea. An even more vivid example was the delicate diplomacy to ensure that activist Chen Guangcheng and his family were protected, and the Strate- gic and Economic Dialogue could pro- ceed. And in April, though India vaulted to the top spot among Iran’s energy customers, U.S. and Indian officials proceeded with their trilateral dialogue with Japan on geopolitics in Asia. De- spite Russia’s troubling backslide on democratic governance, its help with Iran and supply routes to Afghanistan remains crucial. Welcoming new leadership. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s notion of a “multipartner world,” in which the United States joins in varied forms of cooperation with a wider set of partners, captures the responsibility doctrine’s basic op- erating mode. To make it work, other nations must help conceive and exe- cute joint efforts — and then get to share in the credit. Rather than resenting others’ grow- ing roles, Americans should see them as signs of our own successful leader- ship. Critics who view this trend as un- dermining American influence are forgetting President Ronald Reagan’s classic dictum about how much you can accomplish when you don’t care who gets the credit. In that spirit, the United States has encouraged emerg- ing powers such as South Korea, Mex- ico and South Africa to serve as hosts and chairs of key multilateral confer- ences and summits, thereby raising their stakes in success or failure. The shift is most conspicuous when nations play new roles at the forefront of high-profile issues. NATO’s “Uni- fied Protector” operation against Moammar Qaddafi in Libya was a con- certed effort to spread responsibilities, as Pres. Obama urged European allies and Arab nations to supply hard power alongside the United States. In ex- 48 F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 2 The strategy is not about the United States stepping back but others stepping up.