Under the Influence: A Dearth of Diplomats

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Not long after the so-called “civilian surge” was announced as part of the troop buildup in Afghanistan, a veteran State Department foreign service officer I spoke with posed a simple question: “Where are they going to come from?” He had recently returned from a year serving on a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan and was grappling with the lack of civilian expertise that he said was so desperately needed for the state-building tasks there. “Is the new Secretary of Agriculture going to volunteer staff? The Secretary of the Treasury?” He suspected not. The diplomat’s insights get at a central challenge […]

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