The Ambassadors REVIEW
Positioning the State Department to Achieve
the Obama Administration’s Foreign Policy Goals
Jacob J. Lew
Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources
n the face of daunting domestic needs, the Obama Administration has launched
an ambitious foreign policy agenda, recognizing, as the President has said, that
the challenges of our time will not wait for sequencing. His agenda is supported
by a robust request for international affairs resources, reflecting the Administration’s
commitment to strengthen diplomatic and assistance tools to address challenges that
impact the security of the United States. The request lays the foundation for a tenet of this
Administration’s foreign policy—that diplomacy and development return to the fore.
Our world has changed dramatically in the last two decades. Interdependence now
best characterizes our global relationships, altering both the challenges we face and
opportunities to combat them. The threats we confront today—terrorism, pandemic
disease, climate change, the proliferation of weapons, financial crisis—are uncontained by
borders or military might. But just as our borders cannot protect us from their
consequences, so it is that American culture and values, industry and ingenuity, capital and
conscience can be mobilized to promote a secure and prosperous future for our global
community. It is the enlistment of these aspects of American strength that we call “smart
power;” and our current mission is to build the capacity to deploy it.
The Right Tools for the Job
Development and Foreign Aid
: In the midst of the current economic downturn,
Americans are rightly scrutinizing government spending and the use of their tax dollars.
As they worry about holding on to their jobs, homes and health care, foreign aid may seem
unnecessary—a nice charitable contribution in good times, but not a critical use of
taxpayer dollars in hard times. But Americans are also experiencing the reality of our
globalized economy. As poverty deepens globally, the impact of the financial crisis
deepens at home.
Americans have also seen first-hand the costs of conflict. Nearly eight years into
military operations in Afghanistan, Americans are painfully aware of the threats that dwell
in ungoverned spaces, the dangers that can take root with poverty, political oppression and
The costs of reacting to such threats are tremendous, measured in the
lives of American soldiers and American treasure. The costs of prevention are modest by
comparison, with benefits far greater than those achieved through military means alone.
Our superb military can stem conflict, but cannot lay the foundations of long-term
economic growth, good governance, and human capacity that will result in sustainable
peace and prosperity. In the long run, the more effective we are at development and
diplomacy, the less we need to turn to defense. By fostering opportunity and security