Friday, July 10, 2009

The Moment I've been waiting for..

I was fortunate enough this morning to sit about 15 feet away from Secretary Clinton at her Town Hall at the State Department. Clinton announced the launch of a new "Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review" to be headed by Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew and Policy Planning chief Anne-Marie Slaughter. Who, as I type are briefing the media about now. QDDR is modeled on the Pentagon's Quadrennial Defense Review -- "the major shaping document for U.S. defense policy currently being spearheaded by Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy and a team of roughly 100 people." Here is a Foreign Policy article on the plan, but basically it "moves our present planning from [a] year-to-year, annual appropriations-driven process. And it lashes up our two pillars, diplomacy and development," which are currently "separated by two appropriations processes and separate bureaucracies."

"The key question among development watchers is that, considering that development is broader than just assistance, any sort of consideration of coherent policy towards countries needs to take into account trade, in addition to aid," one Washington development expert said on condition of anonymity. "The question is whether ... the QDDR will be a planning tool for the State Department ... or will it really extend beyond to be a more comprehensive tool."

After thanking the DoS staff for their hardwork, Clinton then took several questions and comments from the packed house of DoS staffers. Some of the comments included requests for showers in the building for those who want to walk or bike to work, to the use of the Firefox Internet browser and the focus on disability issues. The Secretary was looking beautiful as ever, smiling and addressing us graciously despite her healing elbow. Gotta love her!

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