The “Draft” QDDR Released

by Trevor Keck

The much anticipated draft Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) was released on Wednesday. This is modeled after the DOD’s Quadrennial Defense. It’s the State Department’s first shot at long-term planning.

Some observations. The title is “Leading through Civilian Power.” As the State Department is the lead foreign affairs agency, this title seems redundant. But, I believe the intent was to reassert the State Department’s primacy in foreign affairs. Under the Bush Administration, the DOD was provided new authorities by Congress to perform functions more rightly under the State Department or USAID’s purview (EG. reconstruction, stabilization and humanitarian assistance). In my mind, this is Clinton’s team re-asserting State’s primacy.

The QDDR also strongly supports a move towards making the State Department and indeed the foreign service more operational. In previous times, foreign service officers represented U.S. policy and reported to Washington. Diplomatic work was largely relegated to capital cities. Today, that is changing. Diplomats are often working with civil society organizations and other non-governmental organizations to achieve U.S. foreign policy goals.

The QDDR’s call for “engaging beyond the State” and preparing State and USAID for “expeditionary missions,” suggests U.S. diplomats and development experts will increasingly be working with civil society organizations, contractors, and development agencies to achieve U.S. goals.

In general, I applaud the QDDR for placing a greater emphasis on: (1) planning for crisis prevention and response activities; (2) evaluating outcomes rather than inputs; and (3) tying promotion to training.

I think the QDDR lacks details. It can’t really be compared to the DOD’s document as the military generally has far more manpower devoted to planning. However, the QDDR paints broad strokes, but doesn’t spell out how State and USAID are going to perform some of the functions laid out in the QDDR.

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