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U.S.: Secretary Of State Outlines Overhaul Of Diplomatic Corps

  • Julie Corwin

http://gdb.rferl.org/92619D8B-B86A-42BA-B9D8-EC1AFC832370_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/92619D8B-B86A-42BA-B9D8-EC1AFC832370_mw800_mh600.jpg Condoleezza Rice speaking on 18 January (epa) U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called on 18 January for a dramatic overhaul of the stationing of diplomatic corps overseas and the creation of what she called "American presence posts." Rice also called for U.S. diplomats to cooperate more closely with their counterparts in the military and cited the U.S. experience in Iraq and Afghanistan as a model.


WASHINGTON, 19 January 2006 -- Addressing an audience at Georgetown University in Washington, Rice laid out a three-prong plan for making the U.S. diplomatic corps more responsive to what she said was their new mission: "transformational diplomacy." This kind of diplomacy, according to Rice, "not only reports about how the world is but seeks to change the world itself."


Rice proposed repositioning the diplomatic corps away from Europe to new areas of rapid population growth. This year, the State Department will move 100 diplomatic positions from Europe and Washington to countries such as China, India, and Nigeria.


"In the 21st century, emerging nations like India, China, and Brazil, and Egypt, and Indonesia, and South Africa are increasingly shaping the course of history," Rice said. "At the same time the new front lines of our diplomacy are appearing more clearly in transitional countries of Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. Our current global posture does not really reflect that fact. For instance, we have nearly the same number of State Department personnel in Germany, a country of 82 million people, that we have in India, a country of 1 billion people. It is clear today that America must begin to reposition our diplomatic forces around the world."

"A newer more economical idea is what we call an 'American presence post.' This idea is simple. One of our best diplomats moves outside of the embassy to live and work and represent America in an emerging community of change."

Rice also advocated the creation of "rapid-response teams." These teams will be composed of experts, for example, on health, and will be deployed to respond to specific crises.


Rice said she would extend the U.S. diplomatic presence outside of foreign capitals since there are nearly 200 cities with more than a million people in which the United States has no diplomatic representation.


"To reach citizens in bustling population centers we cannot always build new consulates beyond a nation's capital," she said. "A newer more economical idea is what we call an 'American presence post.' This idea is simple. One of our best diplomats moves outside of the embassy to live and work and represent America in an emerging community of change."


According to Rice, such posts already have been established in Egypt and Indonesia.


Rice called for greater cooperation between American diplomats and their military counterparts. The U.S. military, she believes, has had to shoulder a disproportionate share of the burden in reconstructing transitional countries, such as Iraq and Afghanistan.


In those countries, Rice said, U.S. ambassadors and military commanders are cooperating closely but this cooperation needs to be extended all the way down the military and diplomatic chains of command.

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