Saturday, April 30, 2016

Obesity in Foreign Affairs

Peter Bridges, American Diplomacy

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One of America's great evils is bureaucratization, at all levels of our national life including our conduct of foreign affairs. Maybe “bureaucratization” is too long a word; perhaps we might call it office obesity. In any case the phenomenon goes undiscussed in the ongoing debate between Republicans who call government simply bad and Democrats who insist, equally uncritically, that it's good. ...
But the bureaucratic pyramid also bulges at the very top. In my State Department Biographic Register for 1959 I find that Secretary of State Christian Herter had two under secretaries and two deputy under secretaries. Today there are two deputy secretaries and a total of six under secretaries. (One of the under secretaries, to be clear, supervises Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, in a sense replacing the Director of the U.S. Information Agency that was amalgamated into State some years ago.)
Is there a reason for such proliferation? Until some years ago one heard it argued that the world had become more complex, and therefore so must the Department of State and the whole foreign-affairs machine. A counter-argument, seldom heard, was that the situation required not a more complex machine but a more efficient one. ...
I do not mean to suggest that the Department of State is more bureaucratized than other Federal agencies or non-government agencies. Look, for example, at our foreign aid agencies. We have more than one, including aid run out of the Pentagon. (Politico reports that the Pentagon's budget for overseas military aid more than tripled from 2008 to 2015.) In 2004, largely because of dissatisfaction with the work of the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Millennium Challenge Corporation was created to provide assistance to other countries through a competitive selection process, based on a country's ruling justly, seeing to its people's health and education, and providing economic freedom. It is relatively modest in size, with less than 300 headquarters positions as of 2015, and it seems to work well; but the creation of the MCC left in place USAID, which, unlike USIA, escaped amalgamation into State, and which today still has around ten thousand professionals. ...

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