Hillary Clinton, Madame X & Rajiv Shah Release QDDR


I will be writing more soon about the just released Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, the first ever — but wanted to post this video of the event and the transcript of an exchange that I had with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Two things quickly.
First, it was terrific that Secretary Clinton and her team have ‘dedicated’ this first QDDR to Ambassador Richard Holbrooke.
annemarie_slaughter_200_1.jpgSecond, Anne-Marie Slaughter, director of the Office of Policy Planning at the State Department, was the one who steered and dogged the QDDR process. Many were involved — and Rajiv Shah, USAID Administrator, also gets top tier billing. But Slaughter, in my view, deserves enormous credit for producing a product and report that is far better than I expected (cynicism is tough to overcome when it comes to government agencies working together) — and I have great hopes for effective implementation.
Given that George Kennan, Mr. X, directed State’s Policy Planning office — I had actually encouraged Slaughter to release the report in the form of a long telegram, or even a long email — and have it emailed under the name, Madame X.
Regrettably, the State Department didn’t take advantage of my great marketing advice.
For the time being, here is a link to a pdf of the 2010 QDDR Report Executive Summary. (The 200-page report link is still being prepared and will be released soon).
About 35 minutes into the program, I had this exchange with Secretary Hillary Clinton on the question about the Pentagon and its place in this QDDR process:
At 35:58

Steve Clemons: Thank you, I’m Steve Clemons with the New America Foundation and I publish The Washington Note. I want to congratulate Anne Marie Slaughter and the whole team for producing this and we’re really going to miss Anne- Marie when she heads off to Princeton because I hope the deployment of the report has as much gusto as Anne Marie has shown in producing it.
Hillary Clinton: Yes, we fully agree.
Steve Clemons: My question about the QDDR and I don’t mean to offer sort of a provocative, constructive question.
Hillary Clinton: I’d expect no less, Steve.
Steve Clemons: It is, where do The Pentagon and Pentagon resources fit into the picture? General Anthony Zinni at a New America Foundation program offered a critique, and he said as much as he wanted to see USAID and State more fully deployed in this arena, he continued to run into the notion that when it came to thinking like the pentagon does in simulating crisis and how one responds and thinking through every dimension of a challenge to figure it out, he said State and USAID aren’t resourced or even disciplined to operate in that way. And he said he wanted them to but he saw it as a big deficit.
And so I’m interested, given your close relationship and your many mutual supportive comments with Bob Gates about deploying people and getting them to work, how do you reach across? Kind of like Richard Holbrooke was doing in his inter-agency group, how do you reach across at The Pentagon resources and Pentagon personnel and make them.. conform is the wrong word, but be good partners with your vision on the development side?
Hillary Clinton: Well, Steve, that’s a very important question and one that we spent a lot of time analyzing and there’s really three approaches that I would commend to you:
First; we have to be a good partner and we are well aware that we have a ways to go before we are organized and deployable in a manner that meets the legitimate needs of the kind of civilian military partnership that both Bob Gates and I believe in. What you will see in the QDDR is our effort to begin to better organize ourselves, to better coordinate between State and USAID so that we’re not trying to determine who gets deployed, how they get deployed and who they respond to– we can’t keep reinventing the wheel in every crisis.
And we’ve learned a lot from what has happened in Iraq and in Afghanistan. And we really believe that we are putting forth a better organizational sense. Some may say ‘well that’s just moving the boxes on the organizational chart of the bureaucracy’ ; that matters. It really matters how we describe how we are organized in order to relate to our friends at the Pentagon. So, there are specific organizational reforms.
Secondly; we are trying to build a core of expertise and one of the important recommendations that both Ann-Marie and Raj and Dawn can expand on, is that we are looking at what the congress created, the conflict-resolution stability office. We are trying to create a core of experts who can be on call and deployable. I mean look the problem we have is we have a relatively small workforce.
We’re trying to expand it by having a kind of auxiliary core and also creating better partnerships with the rest of the US Government, very similar to what Richard (Holbrooke) did with SRAP- which I know created a lot of questions and people wondering what it was, but it was a model of an inter-agency operational office to deal with one of our highest needs. And so we are looking at how best to do that.
And finally; there is money that has been made available in accounts for State and Defense to work together to expend. We’re trying to frankly get back a lot of the appropriation authority that was lost during the … 2000’s, I guess that’s a word. And because of the military emphasis in Afghanistan and in Iraq it just was easier and quicker for the military to do a lot of things.
So you found the military doing development, you had young captains and colonels with discretionary funds, the so-called Commander-Emergency-Response funds… that they were literally able to call on $50 or $100 thousand to repair a school outside of Mosul or help build a road in Afghanistan without any of the bureaucratic checks and balances that we go through at AID and State.
And so we’re well aware that first we have to be a better partner. Second, we have to be more operational and expeditionary, and thirdly we have to win back from the congress the authority we should have as the coordinators and lead on civilian power in the United States. You cannot work with the Pentagon as multitudes of agencies, that does not work. And one of the key messages in the QDDR is that the State Department has the statutory authority to lead. That doesn’t mean that we’re not in partnership with Justice and Treasury and Ex-Im and everybody else that has a role to play, but you’ve got to have someone accept the responsibility; and that’s what we are offering and frankly demanding that we be given in order to make this civilian-military partnership something more than just a phrase.
Steve Clemons: Thank you.

Secretary Clinton was very impressive at this meeting and clearly had deeply drilled down into the detail of this report and what it means. I thought hit the ball out of the park in her response to the question I posed.
More soon.
— Steve Clemons


7 comments on “Hillary Clinton, Madame X & Rajiv Shah Release QDDR

  1. JanR says:

    I wonder if The Hill has obediently abided to AIPAC’s serious warning of following this historical American folk hero?
    “Remember that a government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take away everything you have.”


  2. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Moreover, thinking that Hillary
    Clinton is UNAWARE of tragedies in Palestine or
    progress in South Asia is just absurd”
    Who said anything about “unaware”???? Gads, talk about injecting a straw man! On the contrary, to use one of YOUR favorite memes in your banter here, my accusation against Clinton is that she is UNREPONSIVE to events that she is duty bound, as Secretary of State, to respond to.
    I note you classify the targeting and execution of American citizens engaged in peaceful protest as part of the “Palestine tragedy”. Wrong. These events are separate of “the Palestine tragedy”, they are actually serious crimes committed against American citizens, and others, engaged in peaceful protest. Surely you understand, if too obtuse, partisan, and PC to admit, that should these American citizens had been treated this way by the Iranians, or almost any other nation on earth, it would have been an international incident. How do you feel about a Secretary of State standing mum as films of an American citizen being EXECUTED while lying prone and helpless on the deck of a ship sailing in international waters is being circulated?
    Marshall, I suggest you cruise on over to Taylor Marsh’s site with your slobbering kudos for Clinton. You’ll fit right in. They too exhibit an amazing ability to find no wrong with the framer of actual policies that they can find plenty to criticize about.It is truly magical how they remove Clinton from the equation.
    As an aside, speaking about State’s interaction with the military, a real shame Steve didn’t get a chance to ask her about that substantial army of mercenaries she is amassing in Iraq, eh? Now theres a corporate faction that has really done us proud these last ten years, eh? Ya gotta love the way we reward criminality and incompetence, doncha? Quick, write those guys another check and give ’em a fresh contract to sign.
    BTW, Josh, I’m still waiting for your response over on the Holbrooke thread, where I ask you to comment on Holbrooke’s effect on the Afg/pak clusterfuck, starting with his cheerleading in 2003, to divert our attention and military efforts to Iraq? You seem to have disappeared from the debate after that question was posed.


  3. samuelburke says:

    Check out Phil Giraldi he does a write up that mentions steve
    This is the same impression i get from reading the washington
    “Both Clemons and Kessler know very well that presidential
    elections are coming up in two years and there is no way in hell
    Obama is going to make pro-Israel donors and media
    gatekeepers angry, so why are they floating something that they
    know is fluff? Are they angling for an invitation to the White
    House Christmas Party?”
    In a moment of high drama, half way through his article Clemons
    asserts his status as an insider who is nevertheless unafraid to
    challenge the status quo, buttonholing his unnamed source: “My
    question then was, what next? And the response was incomplete
    but probably sound.


  4. Josh M. says:

    @ POA and Warren Metzler
    The negativity and irrelevance of your posts is
    kind of ridiculous. The topic nor the question had
    anything whatsoever to do with Israel or
    Afghanistan. Moreover, thinking that Hillary
    Clinton is UNAWARE of tragedies in Palestine or
    progress in South Asia is just absurd.
    The Palestine tragedy is one of many different and
    currently existing global tragedies–you can find
    similar ones in at least two dozen other countries
    that involve a population in total that is several
    orders of magnitude larger than the Palestinian
    one in Palestine. How you personally choose to
    prioritize them reflects your own thinking, not
    necessarily the interests of the people or
    countries involved.
    Steve’s post was regarding fixing the ACTUAL
    foreign policy structure, which is currently a
    disequilibrium between diplomacy and force,
    partially because the U.S. diplomatic arm has been
    organizationally weak (or at best, ambiguous).
    Sec. Clinton’s answer is excellent, because it
    demonstrates her knowledge and sincerity regarding
    getting done what needs to be done — that is,
    State needs to be made relevant and potent again.
    I love this side of Hillary–the kickass policy
    wonk who knows the ins and outs of what actually
    makes a difference. She made an answer similar in
    type when debating with Obama over healthcare and
    argued that altering the paper-filing system would
    save the U.S. billions of dollars.
    Sec. Clinton nailed it here, no question. Good
    question, Steve.
    @ Don Bacon
    The report definitely can be bureaucratic fluff,
    but I sure hope it’s not. The truth is that the
    State Department often functions as the designated
    driver for the Defense Department. You know, so
    DoD rolls out with swagger and a beer and starts
    talking big about fucking someone up, because its
    gotta protect America. Then, State Department
    tries to convinces DoD to go home before the
    military-industrial complex/lobby riles up the PR
    team and convinces a (sadly) apathetic U.S. public
    to go…fuck someone up. Suddenly–BAM, we’re at
    Granted, my analogy breaks down in that State
    doesn’t actually really talk to Defense on a
    meaningful level. I hope though that Hillary
    Clinton is able to establish that level of
    communication. It would go a long way toward
    effectively leveraging and strengthening the
    peacemaking arm of the U.S. before the other arm
    presumes a knockout punch is necessary.


  5. Warren Metzler says:

    I think that Don Bacon and POA have expressed reasonable points. But I want to add.
    This is exactly more of what we have been discussing with the many posts on Holbrooke. This is all hypothetical postulating, without a smidgen of proof that any of this will make a bit of difference on the ground in Afghanistan. Where is the listening and understanding of what fits what the Afghan people want? Nowhere. Where is the review of the possibility that the current government can provide a stable situation on which to build? Nowhere.
    It is all acting as if, it we decide to do something it automatically fits the situation. And then when in a year or so all that we did comes to naught, no one holds a major State Department review to wonder why great efforts failed in the long run.
    Sad, sad, sad. Truly, truly sad.


  6. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Congratulations Steve. Your silence on Clinton’s dismal performance as Secretary of State seems to have opened a door for you. Remaining mute while she ignores Israel’s targeting of American citizens engaged in peaceful protest seems to have aided your ability to have access. Ignoring her public comments about the Goldstone report were no doubt helpful as well.
    Frankly, I’d LOVE to see someone have the courage to look her straight in the eye and ask her how many American citizens Israel will be allowed to maim, cripple, and execute before she shows the same concern for American peace activists as she showed for the Iranian Neda. But I realize that would be an expressway over which an insider would quickly arrive at being an outsider. I imagine there would be no quicker way to get ushered out of the room than to mention Emily Henochowitz or Tristan Anderson. Asking her if she’s ever smelled the mixed odors of incinerated human and white phosphorous would probably be a “seriously flawed” bit of insider “diplomacy” as well.
    “I thought (she?) hit the ball out of the park in her response to the question I posed”
    Of course. Thats the key, isn’t it? Ask the right questions, and you’ll be invited back?
    I have a suggestion. Why not just ask her staff for a list of answers she’d like to give? Then you could compose questions in line with her preferred format, without worrying about stumbling on to a question that might be embarrassing to her.


  7. Don Bacon says:

    I assume that the State “conflict-resolution stability office” will counterbalance a Pentagon “conflict-initiation instability office.” (snark)
    Look, at a time when congressional Repubs are talking about cutting back foreign aid and US municipalities are going into the red zone financially, State wants to reorganize their effort, which is fine, and “to be a better partner to the U.S. military,” which is well and good, but they also want to hire 5,500 new Foreign Service and Civil Service personnel and spend a lot more money.
    The whole purpose of this seems to be based on the crazy supposition that the US will destroy, invade and occupy yet another country, and we have to be ready to rebuild it.
    This is one bit of empire-building that won’t fly. The QDDR is a harmless piece of bureaucratic fluff. We can be thankful that Ann-Marie Slaughter spent her time on it and didn’t spring her Concert of Democracies before heading back to Princeton.


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