Clinton Gives Preview of QDDR

Clinton-CGDIn an article titled “Leading Through Civilian Power—Redefining American Diplomacy and Development” that will be published in the Nov/Dec edition of Foreign Affairs, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton lays out the contours of the first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), which was launched by the State Department in the summer of 2009 and is set to be finalized and made public by the end of the year.

Clinton has been a strong proponent of a “smart power” approach for U.S. foreign policy, which leverages the “three Ds” of defense, diplomacy, and development.  Since becoming secretary of state, she has sought to elevate and bolster the civilian components of diplomacy and development within that framework, and the QDDR is a tool to operationalize and hopefully optimize the relationship between the two, using the Defense Department’s existing Quadrennial Defense Review as a model. “During my years on the Senate Armed Services Committee, I saw how the Department of Defense used its Quadrennial Defense Review to align its resources, policies, and strategies for the present — and the future,” Clinton writes. “No similar mechanism existed for modernizing the State Department or USAID.”

In making the case for the value of this exercise, Clinton states, “The QDDR is not simply a review. It defines how to make diplomacy and development coordinated, complementary, and mutually reinforcing. It assesses what has worked in the past and what has not. And it forecasts future strategic choices and resource needs.”

Clinton goes on to highlight Congress’ continued support for the hiring of additional Foreign Service Officers at State and USAID, including the doubling of development staff  “with the specific skills and experience required for evolving development challenges.” This in turn will help make USAID “the world’s premier development organization, one that fosters long-term growth and democratic governance, includes its own research arm, shapes policy and innovation, and uses metrics to ensure that our investments are cost-effective and sound.”

But she asserts very clearly that diplomacy and development must work in close concert.  “Although the State Department and USAID have distinct roles and missions, diplomacy and development often overlap and must work in tandem,” she writes. “Increasingly, global challenges call for a mix of both, requiring a more holistic approach to civilian power… While USAID leads U.S. development work overseas, State Department employees today — from ambassadors to Civil Service experts — must be better versed and more engaged in development issues… The QDDR also focuses on the diplomatic side of effective development policy, arguing for building much stronger and more systematic links between the State Department and USAID both in Washington and in the field.”

The inaugural QDDR will focus on three areas:

  • modernizing and coordinating diplomacy across U.S. government agencies;
  • ensuring that U.S. development efforts produce a lasting and sustainable impact; and
  • creating a stronger nexus between diplomacy and development, as well as better coordination with partners in the military, in conflict zones and fragile states.

As part of the Obama Administration’s broader focus on development, Clinton references President Obama’s new development policy that was released last month, which “emphasizes the importance of targeting countries with responsible governments and favorable conditions for development and working in a smaller number of targeted sectors in each country for maximum impact.”

She also points to ongoing reforms at USAID led by Administrator Raj Shah, which are designed to make the agency “more effective, accountable, and transparent.” The reforms, called “USAID Forward,” include: changes in procurement reform that will build local capacity; evidence-based development spearheaded by USAID’s new Bureau of Policy, Planning and Learning; and a greater emphasis on science and technology to help fuel innovation.

Clinton underscores the importance of countries leading their own development, saying that the QDDR “embraces development as a process of assisted self-help in the furtherance of American interests and values.” “A developing country must be in charge and set its own goals for meeting the needs of its people,” she continues. “The U.S. government comes to the table as a partner, not a patron, lending resources and expertise and, eventually, putting itself out of business when a host country is self-sustaining.”

She goes on to talk about how development – and foreign aid dollars needed to help catalyze development – are critical to U.S. foreign policy, saying, “As counterintuitive as it may seem, the answer is that development, when done effectively, is one of the best tools to enhance the United States’ stability and prosperity.”

“It is time to move beyond the past and to recognize diplomacy and development as national security priorities and smart investments in the United States’ future stability and security… The two Ds in the QDDR reflect the world as the State Department sees it today and as it envisions it in the future.”

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