US unveils foreign policy roadmap for 21st century

The US says its goal is to "lead through civilian power" to avert conflicts.

Washington: Unveiling its foreign policy roadmap for 21st century, the US has said its goal is to "lead through civilian power" to avert conflicts, open markets and reduce threats, while establishing productive multi-agency relationships with emerging economies like India and China.

The US ambassadors would increasingly start playing the role of Chief Executive Officers (CEO), who would be tasked with establishing such multi-agency relationships.

"We will adapt to the changing diplomatic and development landscape of the 21st century," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

"Leading through civilian power saves lives and money," Hillary said as she unveiled the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), which she had asked for soon after she became the Secretary of State some two years ago.

At the heart of this effort will be US ambassadors and chiefs of mission, who are responsible for directing and coordinating US Government personnel in their countries.

"We will empower them and hold them accountable as CEOs of multi-agency missions, enhance their training, allow them to contribute to the evaluation of all personnel who serve at their posts, and engage them more fully in policymaking in Washington.”

"We will also consider experience with the inter-agency as one factor for selecting chiefs and deputy chiefs of mission," Hillary said.

With the right tools, training, and leadership, the US diplomats and development experts can defuse crises before they explode and create new opportunities for economic growth, she said.

"We can find new partners to share burdens and new solutions to problems that might otherwise require military action. And where we must work side by side with our military partners in places like Afghanistan and Iraq and in other fragile states around the world, we can be the partner that our military needs and deserves," she noted.

Across these programmes, the Obama administration is redefining success based on results achieved rather than dollars spent. "And this will help us make the case that bolstering US civilian power is a wise investment for American taxpayers that will pay off by averting conflicts, opening markets, and reducing threats," Hillary said.

"The second factor is a rapidly shifting global landscape. Once, only a handful of great powers had the clout to shape international affairs. Now, power is shared by a wide array of states, institutions, and non-state actors.”

"The information revolution has brought millions of people all over the world into an ongoing global debate – and they, too, can influence events, unleash new threats, or devise new solutions to global problems," Hillary said. American diplomats, Hillary said, would reach beyond their embassy walls to engage directly with foreign publics, the private sector, NGOs and civil society, including with women and others who are too often on the sidelines.

"And we will ensure that our development experts have the tools they need to lead projects themselves, not just dispense grants and manage contracts," she argued.

Noting that over the past two decades, the geopolitical and geoeconomic landscape has changed significantly, the 150-page report said that it is likely to continue to change in the years ahead amid the emergence of new centres of influence that seek greater voice and representation.

Emerging powers and 21st-century centres of global and regional influence, including Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa, and Turkey, define today`s geopolitical landscape. "As these states grow economically they are playing more important roles in their own regions and, in turn, their regions are exerting new global influence," the report said.

"This trend will continue in the years ahead as these centres of influence expand their reach and other states transition from a focus on domestic development to greater international roles," it said.

"While we increase our engagement with emerging powers and centres of influence, we will also deepen our longstanding US alliances and partnerships -- Europe, Asia and the Middle East -- which will remain vital to helping secure and advance US interests," it said.

These countries, with whom the US shares a community of values, must be at the centre of its global cooperation to address shared challenges, the report said.

It said the US is enhancing its capacities to deal with the set of countries that are growing rapidly and playing more influential roles in their regions and in global affairs, such as Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa and Turkey.

The report argued that its strategic dialogue with various countries should not simply be once-a-year meetings. Instead they should provide a touchstone for all their ongoing engagement with a country, across US government agencies.

"For example, the US-India Strategic Dialogue, launched in June 2010 by Secretary Clinton and Indian External Affairs Minister (SM) Krishna, is rooted in a broad spectrum of bilateral exchanges, working groups and dialogues already taking place at all levels between our two governments...”

"The Dialogue reflects and reinforces ongoing engagement by our embassy, preparations for high-level visits and joint management of short-fuse challenges," the report said.

The US has launched a State Department-wide review of its consular presence in emerging powers, beginning with China and Brazil, to determine how it can meet the growing demand for consular engagement.

"We will also soon undertake similar reviews of our operations in India and Mexico," the report said.