In chapter 5, “Resourcing US Diplomatic Priorities,” of Resourcing the National Security Enterprise: Connecting the Ends and Means of US National Security, Geoffrey Odlum examines the foreign policy and foreign assistance planning process and the separate processes for requesting and appropriating resources. Odlum looks at five obstacles to integrating policy and resource planning within Congress, in the Executive Branch “interagency” process, and within the State Department, and recommends seven recommendations to overcome these obstacles. In this excerpt, Odlum writes about how the “emergence of renewed great power competition in a messy multipolar world is forcing the US government to reassess threats.” “In such a dynamic and dangerous setting,” he writes, “the design and conduct of effective diplomacy, foreign affairs, and foreign assistance take on ever greater urgency”:
After twenty-five years of American primacy following the fall of the Soviet Union, the emergence of renewed great power competition in a messy multipolar world is forcing the US government to comprehensively reassess threats and opportunities to national interests. In such a dynamic and dangerous setting, the design and conduct of effective diplomacy, foreign affairs, and foreign assistance take on ever greater urgency.
As currently constructed, the processes for formulating and resourcing US foreign policy are sufficient to muddle through with diplomatic tools and programs that remain planned and funded well enough to react to global developments in ways that protect America’s vital national interests. However, since policy failure is most often the result of poor planning or poorly managed implementation or both, muddling through comes at a cost.
The US government is at risk of missing an urgent opportunity to reform the architecture of foreign policy planning and resourcing in potentially transformative ways, from Congress to the NSC to the State Department’s organization and culture. Given the speed and complexity of political, economic, social, and especially technological change in the world today, the risk of a new and even more dangerous global security paradigm emerging in the coming decade that could pose not just serious but existential threats to core US interests cannot be ruled out. The time to optimize the formulation and resourcing of American diplomacy and foreign assistance is now.”
Resourcing the National Security Enterprise: Connecting the Ends and Means of US National Security by Susan Bryant and Mark Troutman is available in hardcover, paperback, and digital editions. It is part of the Cambria Rapid Communications in Conflict and Security (RCCS) Series (General Editor: Dr. Geoffrey R.H. Burn).
Geoffrey Odlum is a retired US State Department Foreign Service Officer who served in diplomatic assignments throughout Europe and the Middle East and in Washington, DC. He is a consultant on emerging technologies’ impacts on national security, a Senior Advisor with the DOD-funded technology accelerator FedTech, and President of the Board of Coalescion, a nonprofit foreign and security assistance implementer. Odlum holds a graduate degree in national security studies from the National War College.