Conversations With America: Leading Through Civilian Power--The First QDDR

Anne-Marie Slaughter
Philip J. Crowley
   Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Public Affairs
Deputy Administrator of USAID Donald Steinberg
Washington, DC
January 6, 2011

MR. CROWLEY: Hello from Washington, DC and welcome to the Department of State, and welcome to another Conversation with America where we talk about a crucial diplomatic or development issue. Today, we’re going to talk about a new acronym in Washington, DC called the QDDR. And here, we have the hand-matron and hand-man of the – handyman of the QDDR, the Quadrennial *Defense and Development Review, a new report put out by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton late last year.

A lot of the policy wonks in Washington, DC have been poring over this document, but we have the two experts here to kind of help us understand what the QDDR will do for diplomacy and development and national security policy in the coming years. We have Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter, who is the head of policy planning for the Department of State. Don Steinberg is the deputy administrator of the premiere development agency in the world, USAID.

But so, first of all, to both of you what does QDDR stand for, and what’s in this report that everyone can get on

MS. SLAUGHTER: So thanks, P.J. The QDDR is an effort to answer Secretary Clinton’s question, “How can we do better?” As a member of the Armed Services Committee, she watched the Defense Department do the QDR, the Quadrennial Defense Review. This was her effort to say to State and USAID, we need to ask ourselves every four years how can we do what we do better, what changes do we need to make to do it. And this is our first effort to answer that question.

We have answers with respect to diplomacy, with respect to development, with respect to conflict prevention and response, and with respect to how we can work smarter on the inside, how we can contract better, how we can plan and budget better. But at a time when we’re all looking to make government more efficient and more effective, this is our answer, and we are looking forward to working with the new Congress to implement it.

MR. CROWLEY: Now, those of us who work with Secretary Clinton every day understand that she frequently talks about raising the third D, development, to coexist alongside defense and diplomacy. What does that mean?

MR. STEINBERG: Well, it’s an important development because, in fact, we as a country have understood that international development – that is, sustained economic growth in poor countries abroad – isn’t just a question of reflecting our national values but our national interests as well. You can’t have a stable international community when half the world, two thirds of the world, are living on a $1.25 a day. And so there is a recognition in this document that it’s in our national security interest to encourage development, so that we have societies that are not trafficking in drugs, in persons, in weapons, so that we have societies that are not training areas for terrorists, that they are not transmitters of pandemic diseases and refugees.

But at the same time, these countries are going to be our best markets for exports. They’re going to be the places that have the most rapid growth of export markets for the United States. So this is all about jobs as well, and the QDDR recognizes that development, along with defense and diplomacy, has an equal place in our national priority.

MS. SLAUGHTER: If I can just jump in on that, what Don says with respect to development is true more broadly through the QDDR, in the sense that we start from the proposition we’re in a very different world. We are still in a world where we have challenges from states to other states, where states are rising, where there are frictions between them. But we’re in a world in which we have to worry about climate change, about global epidemics, obviously about the stability and prosperity of the global economy, about countering violent extremism.

And all those kinds of issues require much more work on the ground, exactly in the development arena but also the diplomatic arena. So a large part of what we’re talking about in the QDDR is pulling together the power of all of the federal government on the civilian side to address these issues on the ground.

MR. CROWLEY: That list that you just outlined, that has commonalities across international policy and also domestic policy. Is that what’s driving the changes of the 21st century? How do you see – how is the world evolving and how does that change the application of diplomacy and development?

MS. SLAUGHTER: Well, the first thing it does is that it means many, many agencies that were once just domestic agencies, like Health and Human Services or the Justice Department or the Department of Energy or all of our economic agencies – all of those agencies now find that they have to do business abroad as well as at home. That’s the nature of globalization. You can’t regulate a global economy just from inside. You can’t take care of the health of Americans without looking at what’s happening in other countries.

So one of the things that has changed dramatically is all these other agencies are working across borders, which has traditionally been what the State Department has done as diplomats. We need to work together. We need to be able to pull all of those assets together under the leadership of the State Department on the diplomatic side, and AID puts together development strategies that then really bring together the assets we have in other agencies, which really makes us much more effective on the civilian side, just as you would pull together the different services on the military side.

MR. STEINBERG: Another important development – and this feeds on what Anne-Marie was talking about – is that we are also in a new budget environment here, and I think there’s a recognition that we can’t be all things to all people in the development world. And so we’ve got to focus on those areas where the United States has a comparative advantage and where we can apply our resources with a degree of depth and scale to make real game-changing differences.

And so the QDDR as – in so far as development is involved, does talk about focusing our efforts on issues like global climate change, on food security, on global health, democracy and governance, humanitarian relief, and economic growth. And so that need to focus our attention is driving a lot of this exercise.

MR. CROWLEY: But in the QDDR, you talk about having a more results-oriented approach. Now, what does that mean, say, in countries like Afghanistan or Pakistan, where we have ramped up our civilian presence and significantly increased our civilian assistance to those countries?

MR. STEINBERG: Well, we have to be able to prove to the American people and to the Congress that we know what we’re doing with our resources and that we’re having a fundamental impact in pursuit of American national security and American national economic interests.

And so both at the State Department and AID, we are going through exercises of monitoring and evaluation, where we are restructuring the way we look at business. It’s no longer a question of just how much money do we spend, how much assistance we provide, but it’s an in-depth, really granular effort to see what are the indicators out there that show us that we’re on the right track, and where can we show the American people that we’re actually making a difference. And this is a rigorous exercise that we’re invoking as we look ahead.

MS. SLAUGHTER: You mention Afghanistan or Iraq. We focus a great deal on what we need on the civilian side to be able to be a partner with our soldiers on the ground in those countries, where obviously we have soldiers already on the ground, and as Don says, really applying very strict measurements of what are we getting for our money. And we’ve learned a lot about that over the past decade.

But we equally focus on how to avoid getting into an Afghanistan again. So there’s an enormous emphasis on prevention. It’s the old “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” It’s easier said than done, but if you look at situations right now, say, in Sudan or in Yemen, in fragile states where it’s very important to strengthen the government, to strengthen the institutions that provide basic services to the people, to counter the forces of violent extremism or terrorist groups – and so another part of the QDDR pulls together within the State Department but also with USAID, with DOD, with other government agencies, what can we do to prevent, how – what kinds of teams do we need to be able to deploy on the ground quickly when – at the first signs of crisis. And that’s something, again, to be ready for coming decades and the threats that we face and to be able to spend money effectively. That’s where we’ve got to put our investments.

MR. STEINBERG: And on the development side as well, that ounce of prevention is critical, because we want to have development experts on the ground rather than American soldiers. And to the extent that you can build solid societies that have sustained economic growth, that have governance that works, that has a situation where not every drought becomes a famine, where not every human rights abuse becomes a military coup, then we live in a more stable world where we can keep our troops at home and we can have development experts in the field.

MR. CROWLEY: Develop that theme about having a civilian capability, not so much diplomat and soldier, one for one, but having the ability that if we do, in fact, do a military intervention at some point, whether it’s Iraq or Afghanistan in this decade, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo in the last decade, that when the military finishes its security mission, it’s actually got a partner to hand the mission off to, and that partner would include only real capability from the United States joined by the international community as well.

MS. SLAUGHTER: Absolutely.

MR. CROWLEY: What does that mean?

MS. SLAUGHTER: Well, so ideally we start with prevention. But you’re absolutely right. You don’t plan by assuming that prevention will always work. You assume that there will be crises you don’t prevent and there will be crises that turn into conflicts, and yes, we will need to deploy our troops or other people’s troops on the grounds. Then what we need is exactly the ability to move from victory on the battlefield to sustainable peace, to strong governments, institutions, living conditions for the people.

So in the partner sense, what we’ve done is to look at what do we know about how you spend money effectively when you’re moving from the chaos of active conflict to building institutions in a, very often, insecure environment – there are still bullets flying, but you’re starting to return to normal life – to then getting to the place to where the government can take hold – as we’re hoping to see more in Afghanistan, we’ve seen in Iraq – and then to move back to long-term developments. So on that spectrum, what we’ve done is to say here’s what the State Department and USAID need to do inside, how we have to train our people, how we have to deploy our people, how we have to build on the knowledge we’ve already gained to be able to do that.

MR. STEINBERG: We’ve got capabilities at USAID that focus directly on what you’re talking about. We have something called the Office of Transition Initiatives that steps in when we see peace processes going either awry or going in the right direction that can affect change through investments in political aspects, economic aspects, on a quick dispersing basis. Our Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance is a bit of misnomer. Yes, it responds when there are crises on the ground, it responds to humanitarian needs. But it also then helps societies rebuild and helps societies move through what we all call the missing middle.

And so the relief to recovery to development continuum that we all talk about is something that the QDDR really stresses, and especially in situations like Afghanistan and Iraq, where what we’re really talking about is stabilization, where what we’re trying to do, in essence, is buy enough stability and time in order to have those long-term development projects kick in.

MR. CROWLEY: But does this involve changing, say, the business model of USAID, for example? I mean, you go back in the history of USAID, 20 years, 30 years ago, there was much more in-house capability. In recent times --

MR. STEINBERG: Absolutely.

MR. CROWLEY: -- more contracting out to NGOs, and I would assume they still have a role to play. But to what extent now do you have to kind of repopulate USAID with the expertise to do what you were talking about?

MR. STEINBERG: We absolutely have that as the highest priority. From 1990 to 2007, USAID actually lost 40 percent of its staff while budgets were actually going up. And what that meant was that, for the most part, we were signing contracts with large, for-profit U.S. firms that were doing not only the development aspects overseas, but they were planning their own projects, and they were even evaluating their own projects.

As of 2007, that started to shift, and it’s shifting most dramatically under the Obama Administration, under the leadership of the President, of the Secretary of State, and under Raj Shah. There is a program that we’ve been implementing for about a year now called USAID Forward that talks about regaining the initiative, reasserting our leadership in these areas, bringing back into government those things that are truly government requirements, and in addition, looking at the sustainability of our programs by working more and more with host governments, making sure that they’re clean and that we don’t have corruption problems, and empowering people on the ground, working with civil society and nongovernmental organizations in the countries we’re operating in, recognizing that in our own country, civil society is the driver of economic growth, political stability, peace, and democracy.

MS. SLAUGHTER: And if I can just add a word as to what does that mean for a young Foreign Service officer. So a young Foreign Service officer who takes the exam and comes into the Foreign Service today is likely to spend as much time wearing work boots as wingtips, is really likely to be on the ground working side by side with development professionals, some of the time also with soldiers, addressing community grievances on the ground, working with local governments and national governments to create – whether it’s space for a new initiative on food security or on health or on anticorruption, in addition to doing, of course, what we’ve always done, which is to negotiate critical treaties that protect our security and advance our prosperity.

So this vision of where we need to go really recognizes that our young people are going to be coming in – they’re not going to be working in environments as dangerous, obviously, as our soldiers, but they’re going to be on the ground doing some tough work side by side with other members of the government.

MR. STEINBERG: And by contrast, we’re also going to see our development experts who have the boots on the ground putting on the wingtips --


MR. STEINBERG: -- and going to talk – (laughter) – and going to talk with –

MS. SLAUGHTER: That’s true too.

MR. STEINBERG: -- finance ministers, foreign ministers, because everyone in this era understands that development is no – is too important to be left to the development experts. It’s got to be mainstreamed throughout these whole systems, and frankly, Secretary Clinton does as much development work, I would argue, as she does diplomacy work.

MS. SLAUGHTER: Absolutely.

MR. STEINBERG: That’s the nature of the modern world. When she goes to Southeast Asia, she goes and promotes the Mekong River Delta initiative; when she goes up to the United Nations, she talks about negotiation of free trade agreements or other aspects of development. So that’s the new world we’re living in.

MR. CROWLEY: But to the average citizen in the United States who’s looking at a very difficult economic environment here, you go back to that age-old question: Why should we worry about creating jobs somewhere else when we’re challenged to find new jobs and create a more stable economy and more fair economy here at home?

MR. STEINBERG: Three or four reasons. One, as I was saying before, economic growth abroad feeds economic growth in the United States. Export-led growth is one of the ways we’re going to get out of a 9.5 percent unemployment rate. And the biggest growing markets around the world are not the developed markets in Europe and elsewhere, they’re in the developing countries. And if we can sustain that growth, it’s going to create jobs for Americans.

Secondly, a lot of what we’re talking about is ounce of prevention. If we can encourage economic growth in some of these countries and keep our troops at home, the cost in terms not only of financial --

MR. CROWLEY: Cost of goods.

MR. STEINBERG: -- but also in terms of human forces that have to go to these countries – and finally, because it’s in our national values. We want to see a world where people are well-housed, where people have good health systems, good education, and we believe that that is a common good. It’s in our Constitution about the pursuit of happiness and the pursuit of individual opportunity, and I don’t think we should be shy about that. Even as arguing that it’s in our national interest, it is also in our national values.

MS. SLAUGHTER: I would certainly agree with all of that. I would add that it creates opportunities for American business and for American groups of all kinds, from church groups to community groups to foundations to nongovernmental organizations.

But if you take an example, what – say we’re working in a particular country where we’re very concerned about the stability of that country in a region – security interest in the United States. One of the big issues for that country’s government is energy. When we go in with our diplomats and our development experts and work with that government on reforming its energy sector and working on renewable energy or working on cleaner energy, we are often creating opportunities for – to showcase American investments, works – work that we have done where we can be helpful. That then introduces people in those countries to people here and creates those relationships that turn into longer-term economic relationships.

Just as when we talk about civilian power, we’re talking about the power of all those young people around this country who are increasingly spending time abroad, again, working for their church or working for a local organization, participating in making the world a better place. And that creates opportunities, as they come back home, that connect America to the world that ultimately make us more prosperous.

MR. CROWLEY: So what you’re saying, in a sense, is this is not just about what government can do.

MS. SLAUGHTER: Absolutely not.

MR. STEINBERG: Absolutely not.

MR. CROWLEY: That there’s a broader role to play for --

MR. STEINBERG: Right. The --

MR. CROWLEY: -- civil society in America.

MS. SLAUGHTER: That’s right.

MR. STEINBERG: The model that we talk about within the QDDR is a partnership model that draws on contributions of American corporations, who do this not generally for social responsibility questions, but because it’s in their national and corporate interest. It’s part of their business plans. We also talk about dealing with church groups. We talk about dealing with nongovernmental organizations of all kind.

I actually think there’s a fascinating chart in the QDDR document based on a survey that was done out of Chicago, where they went and they asked the American people what percentage of the national budget do you think goes to foreign aid and what percentage would you like to see. And basically, the document said 25 percent; Americans believe that some 25 percent of our federal budget goes to foreign assistance. They said that’s way too much. We want – we only want to see 7 percent go to it. Well, the truth is it’s less than 1 percent. (Laughter.) And so my argument is we’ll take the 7 percent. (Laughter.)

MR. CROWLEY: I want to bring the studio audience – our studio audience, the outside audience, into this. We’ve teed up a few questions that people have sent to us.

Anne-Marie, you were talking earlier about the fact that the QDDR is modeled to some extent off the QDR. Ann in Washington asked, “Did the State Department and AID consult with the military on the QDDR, and how does this differ from what the Quadrennial Defense Review has done?”

MS. SLAUGHTER: Great question. Yes, we consulted with people from other agencies all the way through. This was a process for over, really, a year and a couple of months. So we did consult. One of the most important ways it fits with the QDR, the Quadrennial Defense Review, is that the Quadrennial Defense Review also recognizes that our military would much prefer to build the partner capacity of other militaries of other governments rather than our sending in troops. So that document emphasizes building partnership capacity around the world. That is a fundamentally civilian endeavor. It’s something that soldiers can do for other soldiers, but equally importantly, we send in our prosecutors, our judges, our diplomats, our development professionals to strengthen other countries so they can take care of their own problems.

So we fit very well with the QDR. And honestly, Secretary Gates and Chairman Mullen have been on the front lines of saying it is vitally important that we provide more funding for our diplomats, for our development experts, that this is the way you prevent conflict, that we want to be leading with civilian power. And that – this document fits very nicely with exactly where I think the Defense Department wants to go.

MR. CROWLEY: This is not exactly – we – I mean, to some extent, the State Department, USAID, they’re already moving in this direction --

MR. STEINBERG: Absolutely.

MR. CROWLEY: -- in Afghanistan, in Pakistan. Now, we’re on the cusp of an important development in Sudan. Is this an example of where effective civilian action will preclude the need to think about military options?

MR. STEINBERG: Exactly. We have been doing AID contingency planning for either the best-case scenario, which may be a good referendum and an amicable divorce between North and South, but we’ve also been planning for the worst-case scenario, in which case there isn’t an amicable separation, or actually, we return to conflict.

So we’ve been prepositioning food on the ground, we’ve been hiring conflict resolution experts to go on the ground, we’ve been doing planning for long-term development for the region. And at the same time, talking with our friends at the Pentagon about, if push comes to shove, what they could do to help resolve a potential conflict there.

MR. CROWLEY: We’re – as we sit here, there’s a new Congress in Washington, D.C. focused, understandably and rightfully, on the economy and the budget. Kim in Washington asked about that. The QDDR reaches for a collaborative government vision that is impressive. But given the economic crisis and urgent competing demands, is the President going to request the additional resources that are needed in the 2012 budget to support this strategy?

MS. SLAUGHTER: Well, we do need additional resources in some very targeted areas that really are, we think, by far the best investment that the country can make precisely to avoid conflicts, to avoid the huge costs that come when we have to deploy our military. But a great deal of the QDDR assumes we can do much more with what we already have, that we can organize ourselves, we can work together, we can pull together, as I said, the programs from other parts of government.

I mean, think of it like a flotilla; you’ve got a lot of different programs, they’re all in a particular country. It’s very important that we see those as part of an overall strategy toward the country that they be going in the same direction. If we do that, part of the assets we need are actually there in – with the Agriculture Department or the Department of Justice. And we’re – they, of course, have their own programs, but if they can work with us as part of our overall foreign policy – and again, in development and diplomacy – we can do a lot of this without more resources.

So I would say to the new Congress, you’re asking us to figure out how we can spend our funds as efficiently and effectively as possible; we’ve spent 14 months trying to answer those questions. Yes, we think the answer requires some more assets, particularly in conflict prevention, but a lot of this we’re going to get down to business and do on our own.

MR. STEINBERG: I would simply echo that there are some places – I mentioned before the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance – where we’re going to need some more resources, the Office of Transition Initiatives. These are indeed those sort of transitional agencies. But for the most part, what we’re suggesting here not only doesn’t cost new money, but will save us some resources. As we move contracting back into and project design back into the State, into USAID, we’re actually going to save money. And we show that in the QDDR.

So this is – it is a preemptive effort to show to the new Congress, but also to the American people that we know how to do this, we know how to do development, we know how to do diplomacy. We’ve scrubbed it for 14 months. And now, here’s the result.

MR. CROWLEY: You’ve both talked about a different kind of whole-of-government effort here in Washington, but what does this mean out in the field for the State Department? You’ve got embassies in virtually every country around the world. You see a different capability, different set of capabilities or a different role for our ambassadors and key diplomats overseas.

MS. SLAUGHTER: Absolutely. And again, partly what we did here was to respond to a reality that’s been changing over quite a number of years and partly look ahead and see what we see coming and how we need to be prepared.

One of the most striking things in any of our embassies around the world is, once again, how many different people there are from other agencies. So if you take our Embassy in Pakistan or in Mali or in many different countries, what you see are attaches from the Agriculture Department, from Health and Human Services, from the Treasury, from the Department of Homeland Security. And our ambassador has to be the CEO of what is really a multiagency mission. It is no longer our ambassador representing the State Department in a very formal way to the other government. That’s still a part of it and a big part of it.

But that – our ambassador has to be trained to lead the way a CEO would lead a business with many different parts. At the same time, the other agencies have to know what we can do for them, because we are advancing their agenda as well. So we talk about how we train our ambassadors, how we evaluate people who can show that they can lead collaboratively with other agencies. We’re really telling people, look, we’re not going to reward you for defending turf; we’re going to reward you for demonstrating that you can get results working together in a multiagency team.

MR. STEINBERG: P.J., let me speak quite frankly. USAID, over the past 15 to 20 years, has done some really fabulous things. But it has also, to some extent, been sidelined as an agency. The biggest presidential initiatives over the last decade or so have gone elsewhere, even if they’re development initiatives. And the creation of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the creation of PEPFAR, those are not in USAID at this point.

And so what the QDDR does for USAID is to reassert its leadership in a collaborative way – inclusive leadership – but its leadership on the big presidential initiatives of the day immediately as of the publication of the QDDR. The food security programs of the United States are now being centered out of USAID, working collaboratively with other agencies, working in support of a common goal respectfully, but under USAID leadership. Within the next 18 months, if certain conditions are met, we will see the same thing occurring in the Global Health Initiative of the President.

This is a vote of confidence from the President and the Secretary of State in USAID’s capacity to lead as an agency. It also is a very clear endorsement of our development experts in the field. And a clear statement in the QDDR is that the mission director of USAID is the top development official at the mission.

MR. CROWLEY: You mentioned the Millennium Challenge Corporation, but the concept behind that, that there are very high standards, will – the United States will invest resources --

MR. STEINBERG: Absolutely.

MR. CROWLEY: -- to get an effective return on investment with a particular country that we feel has a solid plan free of corruption and is able to put those resources to best use.

MR. STEINBERG: Yes, we very strongly endorse the business model of the Millennium Challenge Corporation. I’m not proposing to bring it back into AID at this point. The QDDR does not propose that. It’s been effective, and it has been a very useful tool that, frankly, USAID and a number of countries actually helps implement in terms of the development compacts that are signed. So this is no dig whatsoever on MCC, and in fact, it is an attempt by USAID, and to some extent even the State Department, to adopt that very pragmatic, very principled, very metric-oriented approach towards development and diplomacy.

MS. SLAUGHTER: I’d just add that that’s, again, the partnership model that Don was talking about earlier, where we say – the Millennium Challenge Corporation really is premised on the idea that it says to the government, you demonstrate to us what you are planning to do to develop your economy, and you show how you are, in fact, budgeting, how you are transparent, how you are accountable to your people; we will then invest in you. And that is a partnership. And in the QDDR, those principles are principles we want to apply to everything USAID does and to as much of the foreign assistance that the State Department gives as possible.

MR. CROWLEY: We’ll take another question. Chris from Basic Education Coalition here in Washington writes, “USAID is preparing to release a new education strategy that will focus on improved reading skills for children in primary grades, tertiary and workforce development programs, and access to education for children in conflict and in crisis. While education, unfortunately, is not mentioned in the QDRR, your proposed strategy links education to economic growth and democratic governance reform.”

MR. STEINBERG: Absolutely.

MR. CROWLEY: I mean – and it – which brings up a great point. In some of the things we’re trying to do in Afghanistan, for example, building stronger institutions, one of the challenges you face is a population that is largely illiterate.

MR. STEINBERG: Absolutely. And there is no attempt in the QDDR to downplay education. And in fact, I appreciate the endorsement and the plug for our new strategy on education. We spend about $1.1 billion on education. I do not anticipate that that is going to decline one iota. There’s very strong support within AID but also within our Congress for educational programs overseas.

What we are saying, consistent with what you just mentioned, is that we are looking at a new business model. We’re going to be looking at strengthening systems of education abroad as opposed to training teachers ourselves; we’re going to be looking at very clear goals in terms of reducing illiteracy by a certain percentage and tying it directly to economic growth and tying it to democracy in governance and tying it to better health and tying it to food security systems around the world.

So it’s not a question of deemphasizing education. It’s a question of recognizing that we can’t be all things to all people, that even in our education programs, we have to look at new models, and we have to look at applying our resources with the depth and the scale that can make sustainable change.

MR. CROWLEY: You were talking earlier about conflict in crisis prevention. Susan in California is a member of an anti-genocide movement and is very pleased by this. What does it mean? I mean, we – if you have crises around the world, is it necessarily the case that attention is drawn to the crisis that actually exists rather than the crisis that might be envisioned but has not yet materialized?

MS. SLAUGHTER: Well, to some extent, that’s inevitable. This is government that – where everybody everyday has an inbox of things that are both urgent and important, and so of course, the crisis that has erupted will take a tremendous amount of time. But we are recognizing increasingly, having dealt with those crises on the ground, we can see where interventions early on could have made a difference and have made a difference. Now, there are other cases – in the Balkans, we did a lot of preventative diplomacy in Macedonia. Macedonia never erupted the way other countries in the former Yugoslavia did. Those are the dogs that don’t bark, so it’s harder to get credit for them.

But what this says is we can intervene early. And actually, Susan’s question is a very good one, because often one of the early warning signs are atrocities, mass atrocities happening within countries where that tells you things have really started to break down in fundamental ways, that there are no checks and balances, that suddenly what might initially look like a human rights issue within a particular country is actually looming to become a national security issue or a regional security issue.

So building this idea in – as Don said, we do it because that’s our values, because that is what we stand for as a nation, to protect other people and to ensure that their governments do not abuse them. But we also do it because it is in our national security. And both the national security strategy and the QDDR take that very much to heart.

MR. STEINBERG: P.J., I served on the advisory panel for the prevention of genocide that was headed by Madeleine Albright and Bill Cohen. And one of the key things we said there was you need eyes and ears on the ground early to see these developments starting to occur.

Anne-Marie mentioned that there are dogs that haven’t barked, and the situation I like to refer to was Kenya after the December 2007 election. Very bad election, ethnic violence starting to build up, a church burned down in Eldoret in the Rift Valley with 50 Kikuyu inside, and the international community said, “We don’t know if this is going to be a Rwanda, but we don’t want to sit by and wait.” And the international community, backed by the United States, intervened in a diplomatic way, intervened financially, did a little bit of threatening about intervening militarily, and the bottom line is that it encouraged a negotiation that resulted in a unity government and a new chance. Kenya still has difficulties, but it is a new chance for that environment.

MR. CROWLEY: Do you both think that we can make this case for having these kinds of capabilities to intervene either to prevent a crisis or intervene rapidly to prevent a challenge from becoming a crisis? Within the State Department we have an outstanding unit, the Stabilization and Reconstruction Core, that has quite honestly struggled to get the kind of political support you need to build these kinds of standing civilian capabilities --

MR. STEINBERG: Absolutely.

MR. CROWLEY: -- that can stand alongside the kind of military force we have on standby today.

MS. SLAUGHTER: Well, we do think we can build those capabilities, probably on an adapted model. I mean, the current model of having a standing civilian force has been difficult to fund. It’s harder to do this when you don’t have a tradition of reserves like the military reserves, and it’s actually very expensive to do.

So what the QDDR recommends is actually, we’ll have a bureau of conflict and stabilization operations. That bureau will have a people they can call on in the interagency, a lot of people already in USAID who do this work. But equally importantly – and you mentioned this earlier – we are not alone here. There are many other governments who have similar capabilities in Canada, in Norway, in the Netherlands, in Great Britain, and of course, regional and international organizations.

So right now, if you look at the situation in the Ivory Coast, it is the African regional organization, the African Union and the Organization of West African States, who are thinking about what to do, and if there is any kind of intervention, they will be sending in teams. So some of what we need is to provide the support that is necessary to mesh up with what are already capabilities in other parts of the world, where it’s not all up to us, but we could be – we can really leverage what we bring to the table.

MR. STEINBERG: The other thing I wanted to mention was that we’re talking almost exclusively in the context of State and USAID, but this is a broad government-wide effort, and just a quick plug for Samantha Power at the National Security Council who is leading an effort to keep our eyes on the prize --

MS. SLAUGHTER: Absolutely.

MR. STEINBERG: -- so that we not end up in situation where the bubble goes up, the balloon goes up, and we’re left looking around saying, “If we had only known we could have prepared.”

MR. CROWLEY: And back to the question of resources: What does this mean from a practical standpoint in terms of budgets or adding more people or different kinds of people, recruiting different kinds of people in the State Department or into USAID?

MR. STEINBERG: Well, in USAID, to get down to some specifics, we are going to be recruiting more and more people who can do monitoring and evaluation. We have a gap in the middle of USAID. We have a lot of very bright young people who have come in, but 95 percent of our senior officers could retire tomorrow at full pension. So we’re bringing in a lot of what we call midlevel hires, people who have had careers elsewhere, who really know development, who really know the specific skills that we need, and we’re bringing increased numbers of them in as well.

And this is – to answer the question from before, yes, these are included in budget requests that are going forward to the Hill along with de facto offsets elsewhere, where we think we can save money because we’re doing things in smarter ways.

MS. SLAUGHTER: And I would say similarly for us, as we stand up this bureau for conflict and stabilization operations, it will build on the coordinator for Stabilization and Reconstruction, and there are already people there. There are people in other parts of the State Department who do very similar work, so our International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Bureau – much of what they do is combating violence that is induced by international drug cartels, which of course is not the same as the violence of an insurgent group, but if you’re on the other end of the gun, it feels awfully similar.

So we think there is actually quite a lot we can do, again, by combining different groups that we already have. At that point, we’ll know how to ask for the kinds of assets that we need that will not duplicate what other agencies have, but will really be where State – our diplomats and our experts in conflict prevention can bring things to the table.

MR. CROWLEY: Does this mean that the State Department will be a little bit more operational or more – a higher percentage will be deployed into these challenging kinds of situations?

MS. SLAUGHTER: A higher percentage is certainly the tradition right now. Of course, we’ve got an awful lot of people on the ground in Iraq and in Afghanistan, and a lot of those people will be coming home, and they’ll probably be going out. But we’ve got a world where there are almost 50 fragile states, and so if we think about where our diplomats will be going, absolutely, there are going to be a substantial percentage – or any one individual part of their career will be spent on the ground in --

MR. CROWLEY: And being able to do this much more rapidly, much more aggressively?

MS. SLAUGHTER: Absolutely, absolutely.

MR. STEINBERG: Absolutely. And to be trained to do it.

MS. SLAUGHTER: Yes, because it’s a specialized body of knowledge. The people who are on the ground in Rwanda, in the former Yugoslavia, in East Timor, in Afghanistan and Iraq have gained a body of knowledge, often learned the hard way, but we – that’s exactly what we need to build and we need to train.

MR. STEINBERG: Absolutely.

MS. SLAUGHTER: And that gives prevention a much better chance of succeeding.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, thank you very much for joining us. You’ll be hearing a lot more about the QDDR if you’re a follower of the State Department and USAID. But I want to thank Anne-Marie Slaughter, Don Steinberg for joining us, and thank you for another Conversation with America. We’ll see you again soon.

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* Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review