WASHINGTON, D.C.: How many people does it take to replace a light bulb? Probably as many people as it will take to find innovative value in smart power.
That means a whole lot of them: businesses and NGOs; national security and foreign policy experts; and faith-based, academic and community leaders, all of whom will convene around the development issues and try to screw the fixtures of diplomacy and development inside the empty socket of American global interests.
On June 25 and 26 at Washington Hilton, the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) is organizing a Washington,D.C. conference that emphasizes what it calls “the latest innovations in global development and diplomacy.”
There will be talking heads: Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, current and past combatant commanders, and top business leaders will examine the changing landscape of development assistance and discuss how a smart power approach to foreign policy is critical to national and economic security.
And there will be exhibitors: Nonprofit companies and NGOs will put on display their success stories and public-private partnerships. Expect presentations on clean smoke-free cook stoves, backpacks that allow the transfer of clean water, nutritional supplements for children, and Peace Corps projects. Big Bird will show up: Sesame Street Workshop-driven global projects as Sisimpur (Bangladesh), Alam Simsim (Egypt), Baghch-e-Simsim (Afghanistan), Takalani Sesame (South Africa), Jalan Sesama (Indonesia), and Plaza Sesamo (Columbia).
More information about the conference and a schedule of events can be found at: www.usglc.org/2013Conference.
The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (www.usglc.org) is a broad-based influential network that recent released a road map for anyone interested in pursuing a smart-power agenda. That guide is called “Report on Reports.” This mega-handbook of handbooks details a broad consensus around six key drivers of bipartisan actions taken since 9/11 to elevate development and diplomacy. It lays out how to make investments in our civilian programs most effective and efficient.
Those six priority actions are: a) strengthening civilian power, b) ensuring results-driven development, c) leveraging the private sector, d) maintaining sufficient resources (i.e., we cannot afford to disproportionately under-fund the civilian side of our national security); e) improving coordination among the players in U.S. foreign policy; and f) prioritizing (focus on the things we do best).
Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), 1977-2013, said, “There is strong bipartisan agreement that our foreign assistance tools are critical to protecting our national security and advancing our interests in the world. The recommendations in this report build on the great work done over the past decade to make these programs even more effective in meeting the challenges we face in the world today.”
Henrietta Fore, USAID Administrator (2007-2009), added: “The resources we invest in foreign assistance provide a tremendous return for the American people, and we must continue to focus on results and increase the quality and number of development experts and diplomats we have around the world to address the challenges our nation faces.”
It’s a very high-power conference. It’s hard to know if they will actually fix the broken light bulb over two days. After all, four years have passed since the USGLC released its 2009 “Report on Reports,” encouraging the Obama administration and Congress to execute a smart power strategy. Four years later, there is still no bipartisan consensus, so it looks like these fixers and heavy-thinkers may still be debating at this upcoming Washington, D.C. conference over whether we should invest in our civilian power or how best to do so.
At least they have released an infographic (see below) that shows the milestones reached so far on this Yellow Brick road to what they call “a better, safer world”:
- BLUEPRINTS FOR DIPLOMACY | New Statesman columnist argues for new cultural relations in Britain (theaterofoneworld.org)
- Canada puts development on equal footing with trade, diplomacy (devex.com)
- 37 Former Ambassadors Urge Appointment of a Career Diplomat to State Dept’s Public Diplomacy Bureau (diplopundit.net)
- Public Diplomacy – a definition? (przem27.wordpress.com)
- Symposium on Cultural Diplomacy in the USA (hastac.org)
- Presentation: 2013 Forum on Public Diplomacy (kelseysuemnicht.wordpress.com)