The First Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR): Leading Through Civilian Power

Taking a page from the Department of Defense, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called on her department to produce a document that lays out State’s purpose and blueprint for advancing U.S. interests abroad. The result is this document, the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review. Not only is this the first attempt at putting to paper the “soft” side of the Obama doctrine, it is probably the first time in living memory that the Department of State has actually articulated its worldview and its perceived place in Pax Americana.

An essential read for anyone watching U.S. foreign policy, and a necessary companion to the Quadrennial Defense Review.

World at Risk

This pdf book is the report to President Bush from the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism.  if you follow the growing issue of proliferation, not just of nuclear weapons but of chemical and biological weapons as well, this report is of profound interest. Indeed it should be of interest to anyone who’s following events in South Asia and the Korean Peninsula. th

While the report is already two years old, the fundamental issues it identifies and the challenges it lays out are still relevant halfway through the Obama administration.

Consolidation of the USIA into the State Department

Logo of the defunct United States Information ...

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How is the merger of the State Department and the USIA working out? Was it the right thing to do? While this report is getting a little dusty, it is fascinating in that it harkens to a time when the US had few enemies upon whom to focus information efforts.

Reading this work begs a question: how have the U.S. efforts in The Long War suffered (or benefitted) as a result of the elimination of an independent broadcast public diplomacy agency? Clearly the time has come for an assessment of how such efforts have fared under three successive Secretaries of State (Powell, Rice, and Clinton.)

Dining In

A pdf booklet on how the U.S. Army arranges and runs formal dining situations. We live in a society that has all but forgotten the basics of protocol. This is an error – protocol is more than just gratuitous formality in many societies in the world.

In China especially, protocol is alive and well. International business is steeped in protocol, and the value of learning what it is and how it works is substantial. Even if the source is the U.S. Army.

Lobbying, Corruption, and Other Banes

This pdf book draws an empirical line between good government relations and bad. The conclusions – that lobbying is better than bribery when one has the choice – are not prima facie surprising. The power of this publication comes from the data that support the conclusion.

This is an absolute must-read for any company crafting its government relations in the developing world and emerging markets, including China, and for any public affairs specialists at public relations firms.

The Kefaya Movement: A Case Study of a Grassroots Reform Initiative

The Kefaya Movement was a fascinating example of the kind of democratization that the U.S. was trying to encourage in the Arab world during the Bush administration. The problem with Kefaya, of course, was its rise conflicted with a host of other U.S. interests in the region, thus constraining the US from rendering assistance.

Regardless of those interests or their legitimacy, they betrayed the weakness and conditionality of the US commitment to its stated aims in the region. The team led by Natdia Oweidat at the RAND Corporation’s National Defense Research Institute takes the U.S. government to task for this problem, and calls on the U.S. government to bring its behavior and its rhetoric more closely into line in the region.

Science and Technology Strategies of Six Countries: Implications for the United States

This book is the result of a request by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) to the National Research Council (NRC) for a review and analysis of the science and technology industrial policies of six countries, in an effort to understand what impact those policies would have on U.S. national security and competitiveness in the coming two decades. The review covers Brazil, India, Japan, Russia, Singapore, and, of course, China.

The book not only provides a fascinating overview of the science and technology strategies of the countries involved, it is also an interesting look into how the U.S. academy views U.S. science and technology strategy. Of especial interest (apart from the chapter on China, of course) are the final two chapters, covering the implications and recommendations.

Integrating U.S. Climate, Energy, and Transportation Policies

These proceedings of a RAND conference diving into policy options on climate change suggest taking a systemic rather than a single-industry approach to sustainability policy. Setting aside the controversy over climate, there are convincing reasons to operate the nation and its economy in a manner far less wasteful than at present. The framers of these papers seem to think it is time do de-politicize the debate and move toward a non-partisan, integrated, and multifaceted approach the the problem of sustainability.

Do Choice and Speed of Reforms Matter for Human Rights During Transition?

An interesting working paper from the Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan that probes whether speed of economic reforms is linked to the speed of improvements in human rights. A casual, mainstream-media read on China would suggest no correlation, but Krishna Chaitanya Vadlamannati of the University of Santiago de Compostela suggests a more nuanced read on the situation in China and other countries in this pdf book.

A Call to Revitalize the Engines of Government

A RAND opinion paper calling on Obama to cut the role of contractors in government. Contractors per se are not a bad thing, suggests this report, but when you start replacing core government functions with outsiders you not only lose something, you frequently wind up paying private sector rates for people who before had been happy taking government compensation.

I’m no fan of oversized bureaucracies, but I think our debate about government has become far too focused on size, and not focused enough on efficacy. While RAND to a certain extent has skin in this game, their point of view is less politicized than what is popularly discussed.

This is a question that over the longer term will occupy the governments of China and India as well. Both have long-standing traditions of bloated, multilevel bureaucracies that develop lives and power bases of their own, and will at some point need models to help them “right-size” and make more effective their legions of apparatchiks.