The Foreign Service Journal, November 2019

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | NOVEMBER 2019 11 LETTERS-PLUS A s assistant secretary of State for the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Opera- tions, I applaud The Foreign Service Journal for focusing on preventive diplomacy in its September edition. As the Journal rightly indicates, preventive diplomacy refers to “‘measures short of war’ to avert conflict altogether or prevent it from spiraling into outright warfare.” More needs to be said, however, about preventive diplomacy efforts currently underway in the U.S. government, and par- ticularly at the State Department by CSO. Preventive diplomacy is embedded in CSO’s mission, which is to anticipate, pre- vent and respond to conflict that under- mines U.S. national interests. We do so in two complementary ways: by deploying staff to conflict zones and by harnessing data-driven analysis to inform and help execute U.S. policy on conflict prevention and stabilization. CSO is focused on three central lines of effort: (1) monitoring political instabil- ity; (2) security sector stabilization; and, (3) countering violent extremism (CVE). CSO works closely with U.S. missions, all regional bureaus and many func- tional bureaus within the Department of State, as well as with the Department of Defense, USAID, other agencies, non- governmental organizations (NGOs) and partner governments. Our preventive approach to conflict is grounded in the U.S. National Strategy for Counterterrorism, the Department CSO’s Role in Preventing Violent Conflict to detect, describe, diagnose and fore- cast conflict and crisis issues.” CSO also uses its data-driven analytics to design, monitor and evaluate preven- tion and stabilization programs, so that we can better target foreign assistance. For example, we are identifying, mapping and analyzing non-state armed groups andmilitia influence across regions, and designing programs around these realities on the ground. We also support the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former terrorist fighters, and work closely with national governments and USAID to develop innovative messaging cam- paigns to induce fighters to defect, and to prevent them from returning to the battlefield. In the Lake Chad region, for example, CSO and other U.S. government actors are working with local partners to pro- mote defections fromBoko Haram and ISIS-West Africa. In January 2018, within a month of a CSO-supported town hall where an amnesty offer was extended, more than 50 individuals surrendered to security services; within twomonths, hundreds more signaled an interest in defecting, withmany citing the town hall amnesty offer as their reason. In addition, CSO aims to reduce the recruitment and radicalization of violent extremists in areas of critical U.S. national interest. Working closely with the Bureau BY DR. DENISE NATALI, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE BUREAU OF CONFLICT AND STABILIZATION OPERATIONS of State and USAID Joint Strategic Plan and the Department of State’s Strategic Prevention Project, led by the Office of U.S. Foreign Assistance Resources in col- laboration with CSO. Our leading role in prevention was most recently underscored in the presi- dent’s first report to Congress on the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act, which names CSO as the secretariat for the newWhite House–led Atrocity Early Warning Task Force. In their article, “Getting Preventive Stabilization on the Map,” David C. Bec ker and Steve Lewis rightly emphasize the need to put metrics first, and to establish and test assessment criteria in a timely manner. This is exactly the approach that CSO takes when assessing political instability across the globe and designing, monitoring and evaluating programs. Through our newly launched Instabil- ity Monitoring and Analysis Platform, CSO serves as the State Department’s hub for data-driven analytics on prevent- ing violent conflict and on stabilization. IMAPmaps country conditions, analyzes conflict trends and dynamics, assesses risks and threats, and forecasts future zones of instability. This helps enable agile decision-making by senior policymakers by providing timely assessments based on the best sources available. On officially launching IMAP at the department, Under Secretary for Political Affairs David Hale noted: “IMAP pro- vides empirical analysis to help separate myth from reality, enhancing our ability RESPONSES TO FSJ FOCUS ON PREVENTIVE DIPLOMACY ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/MHJ— FROMSEPT. FSJ