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Research Report


Bruce Bedford
Rand Beers
Chester Crocker
Karen Hanrahan
Jodi Herman
Brad Higgins
Daniel Levin
David Miller
Lester Munson
Thomas Pickering
Foreword by Brent Scowcroft
Kathryn Elliott
Copyright Date: Aug. 1, 2017
Published by: Atlantic Council
Pages: 50
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 4-7)

    The work of the secretary of state, the Department of State, USAID and their employees, ambassadors, and staff in embassies and consulates are part of a seamless mosaic of American power and presence. From the development of foreign policy and strategic objectives in and for the president to the coordination of all American activities in foreign countries, to the young officer finding a missing or ill American citizen in a remote corner of the world, the State Department is the lead foreign policy and diplomatic agency. State does not fight wars. But it does provide critical leadership resolving issues that...

  2. (pp. 8-14)

    Within the US government and among the public there are concerns that the Department of State responds too slowly on urgent matters. This is not a new problem.

    While not all of the thousands of communications that the department receives and sends daily can be fitted into a system for more rapid response by telegram, memo, or email—there is an arrangement that might provide some assistance.

    The executive secretariat established by George Marshall in the early 1950s, among other things tracks communications for the secretary and the secretary’s immediate deputies. In the past, there has been a system of...

  3. (pp. 15-19)

    The world and the nature of diplomacy have changed enormously since the end of the Cold War. The changing global economy, technology, communications, demography, the environment, and the spread of dangerous biological organisms along with the diffusion of power and the dramatic increase in important actors beyond the traditional nation state have significantly altered the playing field of diplomacy and the skill set that diplomats need to operate. To better fulfill its role as a member of the US national security team, how should the State Department develop its personnel to serve in this increasingly diverse and complicated environment?


  4. (pp. 20-26)

    The primary purpose of this paper is to restore the “power of the purse” as Congress and the secretary’s most powerful management tool, which has largely been lost as the federal budget process has grown exponentially in size and complexity. To have any hope of restoring this fiscal discipline in the US government budget, there must be a fundamental shift of Congress’ long-standing budget discussion from that of a spending plan to one that is focused on financial management and creating a return on investment, i.e. accountable results. Doing so can begin with knowing the fully loaded cost of a...

  5. (pp. 27-33)

    The US Constitution gives a substantial role in the making of foreign policy to the Congress. The Senate is given the duties of advice and consent to treaties and nominations; the House has the lead role in funding the operations of government, including the State Department and other structures relating to foreign policy and foreign assistance. The power to declare war is specifically given to the legislative branch.

    Congress also has a statutory role in foreign policy. It can pass laws that regulate relations with other nations such as the Helms-Burton “Libertad Act” regarding Cuba, the Taiwan Relations Act, and...

  6. (pp. 34-40)

    The United States continues to face increasingly complex threats to its national security with limited capabilities to respond effectively. Since the 1960s, it has become evident that military efforts to achieve solutions to destabilizing trends are not enough. Yet the US government continues to direct and fund its military efforts as if they are sufficient. Not only are military solutions far more costly, but they are often temporary. Military leaders themselves have become the most ardent advocates for a strong civilian capability because they understand that avoiding conflicts and the vectors that cause them, resolving them short of combat, and...