December 09, 2010

Natural Security Diplomacy

We are gearing up for CNAS’s annual holiday party today, so I’m going to be brief with the post this morning. Will and I have had a particularly diplomacy- and development-focused few days this week, compared to our more frequent focus on the other of the 3 D’s. Yesterday, we were lucky enough to hold a discussion at USAID on our June 2010 report Sustaining Security with a room of development experts, foreign service officers, and NGO representatives.

Notably, several audience members recounted experiences talking to or collaborating with DOD on natural security issues of mutual concern to their agencies. The issue that the group stressed most was that timelines for implemention of their work often didn’t overlap (with development occurring over years and DOD often requiring nearer-term results of its investments). We were grateful to hear just how much of a problem this seemed to create – it is a major issue between the broad security policy community and the science community, but we’d paid it little attention to its nature with regard to development and defense agents within the Washington-based U.S. government. We’ll continue our conversations with this group on the gap in implementation timing between DOD and USAID, and we’ll keep you updated if we discover that this is an especially pervasive problem in addressing natural security concerns.

In light of our week working on diplomacy and development, I’d also like to point to a PacNet piece that our senior advisor Patrick Cronin wrote this week. The topic is trilateral engagement with our allies in Northeast Asia, and here is what he has to say:

To be sure, the Dec. 6 trilateral meeting was punctuated by more affirmations than actions, more pledge than plans.  But the meeting was noteworthy if for no other reason than its spectacularly drawn out list of issues on which the three professed shared interests:  not just North Korea, but also China, proliferation, maritime security, freedom of navigation, terrorism, piracy, disaster relief, disease, energy, climate change, green growth, Afghanistan, Middle East peace, the Mekong Delta, development assistance, democracy, human rights, open economic markets, free trade, and regional institutions.

A cynic might ask whether they disagreed on anything.  And surely the three trans-Pacific travelling ministers, including newly arrived Ministers Meahara and Kim, lacked sufficient time to examine all of these issues in a few hours.  But that may in part highlight the meeting’s significance.  Without needing to discuss every issue, the three were quickly able to endorse an extensive list of overlapping interests.  Cooperation among the three was almost automatic and habitual. It was not always that way...

Have you all noticed the increasing emphasis on integrating resource-related cooperation into relationships with our allies and emerging partners? Ensuring that our relationships with our allies are more robust than just military cooperation (or dependencies) is important for the country, and something we'll be working on quite a bit last year.

And now, back to cleaning my office to prepare for the celebrating massess!