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Preventing The Next Crisis

Speakers: Eric P. Schwartz, Assistant Secretary of State For Population, Refugees and Migration, and Paul B. Stares, Senior Fellow For Conflict Prevention and Director of the Center for Preventive Action, Council On Foreign Relations; Co-Author Of CFR special Report, "Enhancing U.S. Preventive Action
Presider: General George Joulwan (Ret.), President, One Team, Inc.; Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Of Europe
November 24, 2009, Washington, D.C.
Council on Foreign Relations

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GENERAL GEORGE JOULWAN: My intent is to introduce both speakers, and I know both wish to make some brief opening remarks, then we will open the floor for discussion.

And our first guest is Eric Schwartz. You all know him, I'm sure. Since January of '09 he is the assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration. He has a wealth of experience, to include the consultant to the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Asian and Pacific affairs. He served at the National Security Council. He was a senior director and special assistant to the president for multilateral and humanitarian affairs.

He worked with UNHCR with my very good friend Sergio de Mello, and, upon Sergio's untimely death, he became the second ranking official of the UNHCR. And in 2005-2007 he served as the UN Secretary General's deputy special envoy for tsunami relief, and worked with both President Bush and President Clinton. He holds a master's degree from NYU School of Law, a master's of public affairs from Princeton, and a bachelor of arts from the State University of New York.

On my left is Dr. Paul Stares. He's the General John Vessey senior fellow for conflict prevention, and director of the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations. Besides overseeing a series of Council Special Reports on potential sources of instability and strife, he is currently working on a study assessing long-term conflict trends.

And Dr. Stares recently led an expert working group on preventive diplomacy for the genocide prevention task force co-chaired by Madeleine Albright and Bill Cohen. Let me also say -- and then ask both of these gentlemen to make some remarks --he is also the author of a very good timely book coming out in -- it came out in October, "Enhancing U.S. Preventive Action."

So without any further ado, Eric, let me turn it over to you for some remarks; then we'll hear from Paul; and then we'll open up for questions.

ERIC SCHWARTZ: Thank you very much. It's a real pleasure to be here. I've got, I think, about 10 minutes of remarks.

I first want to thank the Council and the Center for Preventive Action for hosting today's event and inviting me to participate. I'm pleased to be a part of the launching of this important report, "Enhancing U.S. Preventive Action," and to talk a little bit about how the U.S. and international community can respond more effectively on these issues.

Preventing and effectively responding to future crises is a priority for the Obama administration. As you know -- I've got to be careful I don't push this thing off the stage -- as you know, as part of Secretary Clinton's major long-term strategic planning process, she is conducting this Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review. I am fortunate to co-chair the working group on preventing and responding to crises and conflicts, along with my USAID colleague, Susan Reichle, who is the senior deputy assistant administrator in AID's Bureau (for) Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance.

Through this process, State and AID are reviewing the challenges ahead of us, discussing desired impacts, and working to define the capabilities that we believe will be needed to create effective crisis-prevention and crisis-response mechanisms. This process has just begun. For this reason, I'd be very interested in hearing people's perspectives and observations, because we like to take every opportunity we can to get as much information from outside the government on what we need to be doing on these issues.

Before commenting on the recommendations of the report that Paul co-authored, let me offer -- I thought it might be interesting and useful to offer a bit of background on the process that we at State and AID are engaged in. As I mentioned, my group's focus is preventing and responding to conflicts and crises, and thus, our writ -- our writ is extraordinarily broad: How can the United States build capacity over a broad range of areas, from humanitarian assistance to the civilian dimension of peacekeeping; for stability operations, operations that can help to develop everything from electoral systems, to judicial systems, to law enforcement mechanisms, as well as quick-impact economic revitalization efforts; also to include counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, counternarcotics initiatives, to even preventing and responding to pandemics.

That's quite an agenda of activities for this working group. But it is the area of foreign policy and national security decisionmaking where we're seeking to have the most direct and most immediate impact on unfolding events over the broadest range of situations. It's exceptionally challenging because, while crises responses are often designed to meet short-term imperatives, they're only going to serve our policy objectives if they're structured along with actions that have longer-term results.

For example, I just returned from Iraq where the government -- the Iraqi government needs to develop quickly capacity in a whole range of areas, from economic rehabilitation for returnees to security-sector strengthening and reform. But in those areas, and in others, short-term fixes that don't include capacity enhancement over time will inevitably result in policy failure. These sorts of capacities -- whether they involve deployment of disaster relief specialists, police trainers, experts at demobilization, or any number of other functions, these capacities are the ones in which the tightest integration of assistance on the one hand, and diplomacy and security on the other, is really most critical.

These capacities are also those that political leadership in Washington and U.S. ambassadors overseas need to access easily and quickly as they work to mitigate emerging crises and threats, or as they work to tailor our humanitarian response to conflicts in ways that prevent further destabilization. And, frankly, from our discussions with ambassadors overseas and others, it's clear the implementers of U.S. policy don't feel they currently have sufficient capacities in this regard, making it difficult, and sometimes impossible, to respond from the field for requests for information and action that come from Washington.

Now, let me identify some initial observations that seem to be emerging from our process. They won't be particularly shocking, in light of what's in your report, and also in light of the forests that have been felled over the past 10 years in assessing these issues at places like CFR, the U.S. Institute of Peace, and the alphabet soup of organizations in which we've all worked, but I'll articulate them nonetheless.

These are preliminary. They're my own views. I have, therefore, now satisfied the interagency clearance process:

First, on prevention, our capacity to gather information on slow-onset and impending crises isn't too bad. In fact, it's really pretty good. But it far outstrips our ability to develop policy responses quickly and to execute them in the field. And while there may be value to new or strengthened institutions -- dedicated institutions to prevention, we also really have to work to ensure that prevention is among the core functions of existing institutions. That means building specific capabilities, knowledge and skill sets of diplomats, and development and humanitarian assistance professionals.

Second, we need to enhance our capacity to deploy expertise quickly and effectively over a broad range of areas, as reflected in the current efforts of the State Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization, along with USAID efforts, and the efforts of other government agencies to build deployable capacity that can genuinely add value.

Third, both in Washington and at posts overseas, responsibilities for managing a host of interrelated issues involving crisis response needs to be better defined to avoid uncoordinated efforts. I just got back from the Democratic Republic of Congo and it's a good example of this challenge. In the DRC, the character, for example, of the MONUC peacekeeping operation in both its military and protection mandates -- the security and protection mandates, the work of a range of U.N. organizations, and our own direct efforts -- the U.S. government direct efforts, from security-sector reform to addressing gender-based violence, they're all interrelated.

Yet, it's been a genuine challenge to develop a clear and overarching structure of U.S. government management that brings together all of these issues in a coherent and integrated way. Ensuring that all partners in these efforts, including the international actors and the various agencies of our own government know what one another is doing, is pretty key to long-term success.

Fourth, there are widespread concerns, from ambassadors, and AID mission directors, and others, about the proliferation of reporting requirements -- largely focused on demonstrating short-term results, that that has impacted our ability to engage in risk-taking, and that this has hobbled our ability to effect changes we seek around the world. Whether that means sending USAID officers, or officers from my own bureau, or our implementing partners to engage populations in areas where militants might be present -- like Afghanistan; or using venture capital to support untested yet promising partners, our inability to engage in risk-taking imposes some very significant policy costs.

And fifth, the U.S. government and U.S. policy would greatly benefit from greater flexibility in the use of resources, both in terms of moving funds between accounts very quickly, and in terms of having contingency funds available in the field.

Finally, the evolving consensus -- there is an evolving consensus on the need for greater resources in the area of civilian capacity, on which I'll comment in just a second.

So how do these recommendations -- how do these observations stack up against, Paul, the recommendations in your report? I think rather than provide thumbs-up and thumbs-down reactions to your recommendations, let me offer just some comments designed to provoke thought.

In terms of strategy, planning and programming, your report calls for strengthening institutions within the NSC, including the Strategic Planning Directorate, and what was described in your report as the "moribund interagency national security policy committee" established under the Bush administration. It also suggests, I think, reasonable guidelines to frame prevention priorities, and calls for new or strengthened NSC offices dealing with development and governance; and prevention, reconstruction and stabilization.

Look, there are -- even in my current perch, now I'm at the State Department, and where you stand depends on where you sit. We all know that. But even from my current perch, if I were -- 10 years ago these would have been remarkably important recommendations -- (laughter) -- that absolutely had to be implemented -- strengthening the NSC. But there are obvious and distinct advantages to dedicated planning and prevention processes, as described in the report.

And the NSC, look, is indeed -- it's the place that brings together the many parts of the government that are engaged in national security decisionmaking. But this kind of process, I have to say, is likely to have the greatest chance for success when it has consistent and high-level attention from the most senior policymakers. And that's most likely to occur when it's clearly linked to comparable agency processes, and also linked to a serious ability to access resources when prevention fails. Having worked at the NSC for nearly a decade, I witnessed planning processes that didn't meet these requirements and, thus, didn't have the intended effects. So I think it's an important -- I'd say a "coda" or addendum to the CFR recommendations.

In addition, one of the lessons captured in the QDDR process is the importance of developing decisionmaking, and finding the right balance between policy, strategy and guidance between Washington and operational flexibility in the field. Any structures established in Washington should reflect this lesson. That paragraph was added by someone from USAID, obviously a Washington guy who spent most of his life in Washington didn't put that paragraph in there, but it's an important paragraph.

I share the general view of the report that we need to better utilize early-warning capabilities, and that policymakers need to make better and more timely use of intelligence information. I'm not certain, however, that the three specific recommendations in the report -- annual threat assessments, special warning notices, consolidation of various instability watch-lists, they're all, they're all reasonable recommendations -- but I'm not sure that, by themselves, they would ensure getting important warning information synthesized and "teed up" for decision, for decision by senior policymakers.

Finally, I read with very great interest -- and this will be my closing comment, your resource recommendations, from shifting authorities and funding back from DOD to State, to enhancing the capacity and resources of State S/CRS, the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization. There really is a growing consensus -- the existing consensus that increases in resources will be a critical element in enhanced capacity in all of these areas.

Though this element needs to be understood, of course, in the context of greater balance between U.S. civilian and military agencies, in terms of resources, but it's most important to note -- and obvious, but sometimes the obvious is worth noting anyway, that the key to these resource recommendations, and to this QDDR process in general, will be to make the case that we need capabilities that we don't have now.

That means identifying first the international environment we anticipate in the decades to come: what are the threats; second, how will those threats impact our critical national interests; and third, determining what we must have in place to adequately respond. Those three analytical pieces are absolutely critical. And sometimes in our, you know, engagement in the weeds, we forget to step back and ask those basic questions.

Again, I think that may be our most critical and challenging task as we move through this QDDR process, and I'd be very eager to hear your all perspectives on these and other issues in the time we have today. Thank you. (Applause.)

JOULWAN: Thank you, Eric -- excellent remarks, and look forward to the discussion.

I have a, sort of, vested interest. I've been toiling in this vineyard for a lot of years, particularly in Latin America, in Europe and in Africa, and we always seem to be reinventing the same sort of terms again, and we have ongoing crises that really require attention. I would just tell you that in the field -- wherever that field is, whether it's an ambassador in the field, or a commander in the field, he will figure out a way to make it work, and this spinning of wheels sometimes back here doesn't help.

I would just say -- and I would hope that you would see the part in this report on what commanders end up doing, spending money that they're given for projects that should be done by a lot of civil agencies, in my view, and I think Paul will cover some of that. But in the end, it's trying to get the key word -- and I hope Paul hits on it, which is something that has been missing, is "planning." If there's not some way that people on both sides of the Potomac, NGOs, all of those involved, when you get to the country or point of the spear where you should be, why they cannot be involved in sitting down and planning.

I said in Latin America, "one team, one fight." I said in Europe, "one team, one mission." And we put 27 different agencies together in Latin America; brought peace to El Salvador. And it wasn't the general, it was supporting the ambassador's country team plan. It wasn't that in Bosnia either -- we supported political decisions, but we planned. The only part that didn't get planned was civil agencies coming in.

So we'll be right back to where we started again, somewhere after Afghanistan and Iraq, if we don't follow some prudent planning that has to get done, and get egos aside, and really understand, focus on what needs to be done. And I think if we read this report, there's a lot of that in there. But I'll stop there.

PAUL STARES: You just stole my best --

JOULWAN: No, I'm sorry. I'm sorry, but I'm --

STARES: I'll take advantage of the podium too, and --

JOULWAN: All right.

STARES: -- say a few remarks.

JOULWAN: And I hope some of your questions will get to some of this because I think it's important. I hope we have some NGOs in here, because that's also important.

Paul.

STARES: Well, let me also add my thanks to you all for coming here today, and I recognize a lot of friends in the audience; and also those who participated in the production of the report, and I want to thank those for the help they've given me along the way.

I also want to thank Eric for being here too, and for the close read that you gave the report, Eric. I will take it on face value that you actually read it, and -- (inaudible) -- I appreciate that.

SCHWARTZ: The problem is, I don't let anyone write my remarks. That's the problem. (Laughter.)

STARES: Let me start out by just applauding the Obama administration for initiating the QDDR that Eric discussed, and other reviews that are ongoing at the moment. I think they are long overdue. And I'm particularly heartened by the emphasis that this administration is giving to prevention, and I think it's been evident in a series of high-level speeches, from the president on down, as well as with the prevention component of the QDDR that Eric just described.

Now, as anybody who's read the report will recognize, this is not the first time that a U.S. administration has given attention to prevention and argued that we have to prevent -- put much more emphasis on preventing crises and conflict. And I don't think anybody in this room would dispute the logic -- the impeccable logic of certainly the cost-benefit advantages of prevention over remedial action. It's basically a no-brainer.

The problem has always been converting this rhetorical commitment into a real shift in resources and effort. And as a consequence, the U.S. has, over the years, traditionally put much more effort in what we call "the downstream management of instability and conflict," rather than an upstream, preventional -- the front end of conflict. And I think this has resulted in both hasty improvisation to crises, a lot of burdensome, highly expensive stabilization and reconstruction missions over the last 10 to 20 years.

I think there was a Defense Science report recently that, on average, since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. has conducted a stabilization and reconstruction mission once every 18 to 24 months, each lasting, on average, five to eight years, so a tremendous burden to the U.S. And, of course, Eric is very familiar with the other costs involved in dealing with conflict and instability.

As we argue in our report, there is now, we believe strongly, a real imperative to put more emphasis on prevention. The U.S. is overstretched in Iraq and Afghanistan, to say nothing of other deployments that have been taking place since 9/11; we are hemorrhaging resources in these efforts and elsewhere. I think the tab in Iraq is already up to three-quarters of a trillion dollars; in Afghanistan, it's close to a trillion dollars; and, of course, the many thousands of Americans killed, wounded and maimed as a result of these conflicts. Simply put, the U.S. cannot afford another major military commitment at this time or, for that matter, I think in the foreseeable future, given the fact that we're facing a $12 trillion deficit over the next 10 years.

I think there are other good reasons to focus on prevention. We're entering, I think, a potentially quite dangerous period, in terms of the emergence of new powers which have traditionally been associated with instability in the international system. We have new security threats to deal with -- proliferation in terrorist organizations; new stresses and competitive pressures as a result of globalization; and then, of course, there are longer-term concerns about climate change.

Now, to make prevention a priority, I think the U.S. has to do a better job at organizing itself for this purpose. As we argue in the report, and Eric mentioned, there are major deficiencies I think in three areas: Firstly, in terms of the long-term efforts to reduce the threat of conflict before they emerge in areas that we care most about; secondly, medium-term efforts to prevent crises from developing when we start to see the early-warning signs; and thirdly, short-term efforts to prevent an emerging crisis from escalating and becoming the source of a potential major U.S. commitment.

Let me just briefly go through each of these: In threat reduction there is no, I would argue, coherent strategy or established strategic planning process in the U.S. government today to address potential sources of instability in a coherent, systematic fashion. We tend to do this in a disaggregated way: different parts of the U.S. government focus on different parts of the problem.

While there are long-term assessments, these aren't integrated into an established, strategic interagency planning process and there are no developed set of policy responses to address these issues when we see them. I think this is most evident in our foreign assistance programming, which, as many of you know, is a major tool for reducing the threat of instability and conflict in weak states. Currently, 20 agencies oversee 50 programs in 150 countries. This is an incredibly incoherent process that needs to be fixed.

There's also, I think over the last few years, evidence of a growing disconnect in the way civilian and military assistance is undertaken, especially as the military, in recent years, has engaged in what it calls "phase zero," or "shaping operations," and has now become a major actor.

In the second area in crisis prevention, as Eric mentioned, I think that the quality of our intelligence gathering -- the assessments, the provision and production of various early-warning products is terrific. The biggest problem we see is that it's not connected in an -- to an established, preventive-planning interagency mechanism that would respond to these warning signs in a timely fashion. It's much like what I would call "drive-by warning" -- like you have the paper delivered every morning, in which it's thrown out the car window and lands on your lawn, and you hope that the occupants of the house actually read it and respond to it.

S/CRS, as many of you know, has the official mandate to deal with this -- to carry out much of the preventive planning, but it has not enjoyed the kind of institutional clout that is necessary. And this is why I think we should put more authority back in the hands of the NSC to do this, and I'll get into this in a minute. I think it has also tended to focus more on post-conflict reconstruction and stabilization as its core mission, rather than prevention.

The third area is in crisis management mitigation. There are several areas that we identify here -- shortcomings:

There's a perennial difficulty in shifting intelligence assets in times of crisis from one area to another. The established interagency management system to deal with crises has been developed. It's very elaborate, but very bureaucratic. (It's deterred ?) its initiation and it's never really been tested, so we're not sure how good it would actually be.

As Eric mentioned, there is a chronic problem in being able to use funds in emerging situations, in crisis situations. It's just very difficult for diplomats to access funds at the last minute in response to emerging threats.

And we also believe that the surge capacity within the State Department for dealing with special contingencies, certainly diplomatic missions, is also really limited and has to be rectified.

So let me just briefly go through the recommendations. We do this in four areas:

First, in terms of strategy, I think the first order of business is that the U.S. needs a clear and coherent strategy that differentiates between different types of threats, according to their real priority to U.S. national interests. We tend to see these issues and threats as if they're equally important to the U.S., and clearly they are not, and a strategy has to be built around that recognition.

There has to be a clear set of -- a general agreement of the preventive measures that can be applied, in any given situation, to provide overall operational guidance within the U.S. government. We argue that this should be the responsibility of an invigorated strategic planning process led by the NSC, within the U.S. government, that would not only articulate and design the strategy, but actually periodically review it and oversee its implementation.

I've been heartened that the embryonic process for this -- the National Security Policy Planning Committee that was set up in the last months of the Bush administration, is going to be activated, I believe, in some form or the other. Whether it's called that, I don't know, but I'm heartened that that is going to take place in the near future if it hasn't already.

In terms of early-warning, we argue that the current process has to be streamlined, and, moreover, integrated into an established preventive-planning process. The various watchlists have been to be prioritized.

I actually remember very, very well your own experience, Eric. I think you were one of the first recipients of one of the watchlists when you were at the NSC, and I think you were presented with about -- a list of about 50 countries, and the response was, "Well, what am I supposed to do with this?" (Laughs.)

So we feel very strongly that the current way in which intelligence warning is provided to decisionmakers is that it should be prioritized to according to U.S. interests.

The other aspect is in terms of policy and planning, or planning and programming. General Joulwan made a passionate plea for the importance of that. We couldn't agree more. We believe, though, that the responsibility for that process has to shift to the White House. That is the locus of real authority. That's not to say that it should be carried out there. It should still be carried out in the agencies that have the manpower and the skill sets to actually do it.

We recommend the creation of two new, dedicated NSC directorates for this process: one to oversee development and governance assistance programming, and the other one to managing the prevention, stabilization and reconstruction missions -- to actually be the principal recipient of early-warning information, as well as the principal sponsor, within the interagency system, of this very important preventive planning that we feel is very important.

We do believe that S/CRS should be strengthened, possibly even remain to be the prevention, stabilization and reconstruction department within the State Department. So we don't feel that this should be dismantled, as some people argue, or (that) it should be rolled up and made part of USAID's mission.

Finally, in terms of resources. We strongly endorse the efforts under way to rebalance civil-military resources devoted to crisis management and prevention of instability;

To reverse the hollowing out of USAID that's happened over the last eight years, and increase funding and staffing at the State Department. I think this is obviously very important.

The temporary current authorities that have been vested in the State Department need to be given back to the State Department -- feel very strongly that this has to be rectified.

And that Congress should approve the various proposals in front of it to create a rapid-response, emergency response fund. I think it would be extremely useful to have that available.

We argue for the continued build up of the Civilian Response Corps, but it does -- it's relationship does need to be, I think, clarified with the expeditionary assets in USAID, and that needs to be, I think, clarified and hopefully streamlined or deconflicted.

And we also, finally, just push for other diplomatic initiatives, particularly this necessary surge capacity that we feel that should reside in the State Department -- the ability, at short notice, to backstop dedicated mediation missions, arbitration observer, and so on, and we think this is also a much-needed reform that's necessary.

So, collectively, we feel all these initiatives can make a difference, and they shouldn't be seen as, sort of, individual, "stand-alone." They are very much part of a package. So let me end there, and I'll be happy to take your questions.

JOULWAN: Well done. (Applause.)

I think we've had two excellent presentations. I think they have set the scene very well. I would ask that if you do have questions, we have some microphones here, please state your name and then ask your question.

Right here.

QUESTIONER: (Off mike) -- Stephenson. I teach at -- (inaudible.)

I find the report fine, the recommendations laudable, but I think you've overlooked the role of the Congress -- (laughter) -- and so I have a couple comments on that. You call for contingency funds, which the Congress has been historically reluctant to grant -- though the Appropriations committees in both chambers have been fairly generous in their latest reports, $50 million in one case, $100 million in another case, but they still don't want to grant the expanded transfer authority or a rapid personnel build up.

Now, I learned only a year or so ago that if you look back in history, in 1960 and '61 the Congress was willing to grant the president, in today's dollar terms, a billion-and-a-half dollars in a contingency fund. Current law has that at $25 million. So if the Executive Branch is going to get extra money, you need to be able to use it wisely so it doesn't get taken away again. You need to have those confidence-building measures.

Secondly, on the transfer authority -- I think Eric would agree, most of the problems come from this antiquated, unamended Foreign Assistance Act of '61, and all of its crazy provisions, with different pots of money, each requiring different movement-around authorities. I think the administration needs to ask Congress for help; to push them to make the overhaul of that law that would then clear up and clarify some of these transfer authorities.

Basically, I'm saying that I think you're right that the change is necessary, but, from the Congressional side, you need to propose a grand bargain where you get -- the Executive Branch gets the flexibility and the resources, and the Congress gets greater accountability. And I guess the question is, do you think the Executive Branch is -- this administration is willing to show more accountability, especially when it turns so much authority over to czars who do not have Senate confirmation, and to an NSC staff where no one is -- no one on the staff is Senate confirmed?

JOULWAN: Eric, why don't we start with you.

SCHWARTZ: I guess that question is to me. (Laughter.)

Well, first let me say, as the assistant secretary of the bureau that consistently gets more money from Congress than we ask for, I'm not so skeptical about our ability to persuade Congress on these issues, maybe I'm just a product of my current experience.

But I think the logic of the QDDR process is that, you know, is that Congress is a reasonable and rational actor, and in order for the administration to effectively make the case for additional resources and additional flexibility with resources, we need a product that, like the QDR on the Defense side -- on the military side, which articulately and clearly, you know, identifies the threats that we confront, and the capabilities that we need -- and we believe that, you know, in those circumstances we can make the case to the Congress for modification and reforms that we need.

I also think that -- you know, this accountability is tricky, because I think the administration is very accountable to the Congress, as a general matter. You know, we share -- my own bureau, we share everything with the Congress. We don't move money from -- we have the legal authority to, but we won't move money from one major account to another without a consultation, and, effectively, getting permission from the Congress.

So I'm not sure -- I'm not sure it's accountability in quite the way one might infer from what you've said. I don't know what the answer there is. But I don't think we're despairing, in the administration, about our ability to make the case to the Congress. But that's what the QDDR process is all about.

STARES: Could I just -- (inaudible) --

JOULWAN: Yeah, go ahead.

STARES: Just briefly, I couldn't agree more. And I think if we were to do the report again we'd give much more emphasis on the Congressional side. I would argue that it is the neglected dimension here.

And if you believe -- and I think everyone would agree, that preventive action rests on political will, and political will doesn't just rest in the Executive Branch. This is a function of the level of Congressional support, and if you really want to motivate leaders, and more of a -- drive the system, then you've got to have that strong signal from Congress.

And it's absolutely important that they be engaged from a (early part ?). And that requires them being part of the early-warning process, the sensitization of potential threats out there, so that they understand; they're not blindsided when (either ?) the Executive Branch comes to them for support. So I think it's very, very important that they be engaged in the early stage.

What I think has to be avoided is the self-fulfilling dynamic that we see, in which they say, well, the military is the only one that has the capacity to do something, so we've got to give them then the money -- rather than trying to make sure that the civilian side has the capacity, so that they can, then, implement it -- and it becomes this, as I say, this self-fulfilling dynamic.

And I'm pleased that people are seriously looking at revising and reforming the Foreign Assistance Act. Congressman Berman is, I think, working on that at the moment. So I think this is an area that does, as you say, need more attention and we should have given it more attention.

JOULWAN: Yes, back here, please. Yeah.

QUESTIONER: Len Rubenstein, with Center for Public Health and Human Rights at Johns Hopkins.

I have two questions about the relationship of development to the stabilization and prevention initiatives. One is, as attempts to rationalize these various foreign assistance programs spread all over the government, how much is the stabilization-security policy going to drive development? How much of it is going to be controlled by development?

Development obviously has long-term impacts on stability, in terms of economic development, poverty reduction, and that's always been part of U.S. policy, but how much of that is going to end up being seen in the much shorter term? And are we at risk that those goals -- of poverty reduction, and economic development, and health, and all the other programs, are going to be at risk?

Second, Eric, you said we have to rationalize or harmonize short-term and long-term strategies -- they have to be consistent, and I heard you saying that. But, in fact, there are times when they're completely inconsistent and they can't be rationalized. For example, in health development you've got to have -- develop capacity in the local ministry.

You have to have a consultation/democratic process. It takes a lot of time, as we've seen in places where it's working, like Liberia. And throwing S/CRS approaches of a couple two, three years of experts to, so-called, "build capacity" is really undermining the long-term development of the indigenous ministry.

So I think we have to rethink the idea that there's always a possibility of harmonizing short-term stability interventions, and long-term success, of the very programs that we're trying to develop. And I don't think that's been getting enough attention. And there's a kind of a myth that everything can be harmonized. And I'm not sure that the S/CRS approach is going to crash and burn when it comes to the long-term implications.

JOULWAN: Eric, comments?

SCHWARTZ: I don't have too many comments. I think I need to respond, but I think those observations are all important ones.

I would say, I do believe -- and at the risk of being corrected by a colleague in, some colleague in this process, I think there's a consensus probably that money spent by the U.S. government is designed to serve our national interests -- (laughs) -- and that would include development assistance and even, you know, long-term development assistance -- poverty alleviation. And I think there's a belief that those longer-term efforts ultimately serve American interests for a variety of reasons which, you know, have to do with, you know, creating the kind of world that is more conducive to American interests, however we define them.

But I do think the distinction that you raised -- that you make between short-term objectives and longer-term development objectives, and the fact that sometimes they're, they can be in conflict, is a real one, which is why, when do short-term interventions, they should be done with an awareness of what we might be losing over the long term.

I didn't say that they can be harmonized. I think -- and we can look at my remarks, I think sometimes they need to be reconciled. But I think that's part of this process.

JOULWAN: Could I just ask this one question about "stabilization." That term is of great interest to me. Can we add to stabilization -- in other words, for agencies to come in, from whatever agencies, would that include a secure environment of stabilization?

Yeah?

SCHWARTZ: (Off mike.) Absolutely.

JOULWAN: Well, that's an interesting -- we'll come back to that, because that is sometimes lost in the translation.

SCHWARTZ: (Off mike.)

JOULWAN: Well, then one must plan for stabilization -- for what a secure environment means. It's not tearing down a statue, it's how do you create an environment for all these agencies that could come in?

They just blew the U.N. out of -- out of, what, Afghanistan, and they left. That is what happens when the left- and the right hand don't talk to one another. That's why I come back to planning. But I'll let you respond.

STARES: Just quickly. As I'm sure you know, there's a presidential study review process under way looking at our overseas assistance strategy.

And when is it due to report out, Eric -- the end of the year, or?

SCHWARTZ: I don't know. I mean, there are different -- it's in three different stages, and each stage has a different deadline.

STARES: You know, I would be staggered if they somehow elevat(ed) conflict prevention to be the primary goal. As we all know, those assistance programs serve many objectives. I think what many of us have been arguing is that assistance aid be conflict-sensitive, i.e., it be considered as it's -- both for its direct and indirect benefits for stabilization and conflict prevention.

And it's a term that's now entered into a lot of the discussions in OECD planning, coordination of foreign assistance. The British tend to use this as a way to think more about the role of foreign assistance funds. So I think that that's probably what we will see out of it. But we certainly weren't arguing that this should be the driving imperative to our overseas assistance program.

SCHWARTZ: Can I just make one other point --

JOULWAN: Sure.

SCHWARTZ: -- on Len's question.

I mean, the fact that, for example, that humanitarian assistance -- although I guess in some level it's considered part of development assistance in the broadest sense, the fact that it is a distinct subset, with a separate series of best practices and rules, doesn't, you know, doesn't prevent humanitarian assistance providers from thinking about longer-term development issues.

And I can think of lots of examples where humanitarian assistance providers have cautioned against interventions that would have adverse, longer-term developmental impacts -- especially in their dialogue with the military, but even beyond that, and have emphasized, for example, the role of capacity-building in humanitarian assistance interventions.

So it's not like the two sides, or the three sides, or however many sides aren't and shouldn't be, you know, deeply engaged in dialogue on these issues all the time. That should be one of our goals.

JOULWAN: In the back; and then here at this (table ?).

Go ahead -- yeah.

QUESTIONER: Thank you. My name is Hiroo Watanabe. I'm a Washington correspondent for Sankei Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper.

Let me ask your opinion about the Japanese approach to volunteer in Afghanistan as a U.S. ally in Asian-Pacific region. As you know, the new Hatoyama government now is reviewing many policies: The government will end its naval refueling mission in Indian Ocean, and, on the other hand, it will -- (is) considering to send a civilian mission to Afghanistan to join international reconstruction effort in Afghanistan.

And the first question is, what kind of civilian aid from Japan do you want? And the second question is: The administration seems to rule out the possibility to send Japanese Self-Defense Forces to Afghanistan. Of course, we have a huge limitation to dispatch Japanese defense forces to Afghanistan by our constitution. But do you think, is there any possible tasks which Japanese forces can take in Afghanistan for stabilization and reconstruction? Thank you.

SCHWARTZ: At the risk of, you know, treading into Ambassador Holbrooke's territory, you know, I think I can only answer that question in the most general of terms, which is, you know, the United States is eager for the involvement of friends and allies in the Afghan reconstruction and engagement effort.

But in terms of the specifics of your question, I would either have to get back to you, or refer you to my colleagues in -- who work for, and with, Ambassador Holbrooke.

STARES: I don't have too much to say, because I'm not so familiar with the (details ?).

I heard Ambassador Holbrooke yesterday thank the Japanese government for this massive increase in foreign assistance for Afghanistan. I think it's a four-fold increase, or something. It was a quite extraordinary amount of money, and I think we're all grateful for that.

I'm not sure the notion that Japan can become more engaged with purely foreign assistance, without -- while pulling back from support operations in the Indian Ocean, to me, makes much sense. It seems to be a distinction without a real difference.

And I think if the Japanese government wants to be fully engaged as a responsible stakeholder on the international scene -- and I think it needs to review all these ways in which it can contribute, and I think many of us would be looking for Japan to continue to provide that kind of support in the Indian Ocean.

JOULWAN: Thank you.

Let me get Bill Nash first -- (inaudible) --

QUESTIONER: Bill Nash.

I think one of -- just a couple of comments about the issues in general. One of the things I think we need to figure out is if we're trying to prevent a crisis in country-X, or if we're trying to prevent a crisis for the United States in country-X. And I think it has a great deal to do about short-term/long-term. And it's just important for us to think through why we're working an issue, as we're working an issue, and is it for the -- is it because of our crisis we're worried about, or their crisis?

The second point is, Jim Dobbins makes a great comment in one of his books about, any time you work these issues there are three types of people involved in them: The first one(s) are the regional or country experts that really understand the locale and the people that you're dealing with. The second group are the functional experts that know a lot about the promotion of rule of law, or of governance issues, or democracy, or economic development -- the functional issues. And then, separate from those other two groups, there's normally the people that are in charge.

And the object being that it's very difficult for us to bring together, in Washington and in the field, the expertise that combines regional, plus functional, plus those who are setting the policies on whether this is a -- whose crisis this is that we're worried about. And I would just argue that one of the elements that we need to -- we need to work more on is the professional development aspect of good government service.

And, I mean, General Joulwan, you talk a lot about planning here today, you can also give your professional development speech on growing people that can deal with all these issues, and that comes -- tries to bring all those experts together.

JOULWAN: Comments?

SCHWARTZ: Yeah, those are great points, they really are. And they go to the earlier comment that I made about -- that this process has to define what our interests are, and then define, you know, what capabilities -- and what the risks are in not addressing them, and what capabilities we need. That's the starting point. That's a whole other meeting. (Laughs.) And inevitably, as I knew we would, we're slipping from prevention into response and management, and that's okay.

But on that issue, one of the -- let me make a few points, I think all of which are important, but it's hard for me to figure out how to put them all together. But one of the comments that we got from a lot of ambassadors was that unless there's seventh-floor -- that means, you know, senior State Department engagement on a particular crisis, they can't get, kind of, purchase on the issue; they can't get -- they can't get, you can't move an issue, an operational response in a way that you need to.

And that's consistent with -- that observation is consistent with another observation that I would make independently, which (is), I think, on the biggest crises we face, management is not the critical issue. For example, I think that there's no -- on the civilian side, I don't think anyone doubts who's in charge of our (APEC ?) strategy, and the whole of government effort that's being created to respond to that. You know, I don't -- I think that that whether, you know, -- success or failure is a different issue, but I think, in terms of how we're managing that issue, I think I would say that there really is a "whole of government" approach being executed in terms of that part of the world right now.

So what does that mean? It means, in terms of, in terms of what our gaps are, I think our most critical gaps are in those, kind of, I would say, quote, "mid-level crisis situations," which, for whatever reason, are of some importance to U.S. policymakers -- either for international good citizenship reasons; because of the spillover effects of regional crises, ultimately it could have an impact on our wellbeing -- but they're not the top three or four. They're, you know, maybe seven -- they're, you know, six, seven and eight, or nine, 10 and 11.

I gave one example, Congo. You know, there are other examples -- the Horn of African. And in those situations I think management, and what I would call "political-military planning" really, you know, sometimes is difficult to find to the extent that we need to have it. And so I think maybe the answer -- an answer there might be, you know, you have to have, kind of, empowered professionals, who aren't necessarily deputy secretaries but have the confidence of the leadership, who can drive a process.

I mean, the best example of that sort of thing, that I've seen in my career, I think, was the political-military planning process that the NSC instituted in 1994 surrounding Haiti, and that was run by Dick Clarke -- some of you may know him. (Laughter.) And it succeeded in large measure because he was an empowered individual, with knowledge, and could bring everyone together on an issue which maybe wasn't always at the top of decisionmakers' priority, but was pretty important.

And so those are very scattered observations, but take them for what they're worth.

STARES: Just on this opening question about, you know, should we be more interested in -- or, are we more interested in crises in country-X, or crises that affect the United States in country-X? And I think the answer is obviously we are most interested in the crises that affect U.S. interests, at least that should be my -- would be my preference, but at the same time we cannot ignore these other ones.

Now, at the same time, we cannot distribute our resources evenly across the range of potential contingencies, so that's where we need partners. And the other area that we're now working on is how the U.S. can develop partnerships with other actors that can play a constructive role to deal with some of the contingencies that we may not feel are the most pressing for us.

And by "other partners," we're obviously looking at emerging powers. You know, if they really want to be treated as rising powers, responsible stakeholders, then they've got to pony up the resources to play that role. Obviously, regional organizations, as well as the U.N., can play a major role in dealing with some of these crises. And there's also the private sector, and private actors can play a, I think, an increasingly important role in preventive actions.

So it's not an either/or, but there is, I think, a real hierarchy in terms of the level of effort we should give any one contingency.

JOULWAN: Go ahead.

QUESTIONER: Thank you. Gordon Adams, American University and Stimson Center.

Thank you, both of you, for your contributions on this issue, which is going to be knotty and hard, I think -- (inaudible) -- the QDDR and beyond, and no doubt.

I have two questions, one of which is about contingency funding and one of which is about capacity. On the contingency funding piece, we talked -- you talked a little bit earlier about the relationship between justification, accountability and resources.

It's interesting to me -- and, Eric, I particularly wanted you to comment on this, and Paul, what the report discusses on this. There are, of course, examples of contingency funding in the foreign affairs/international affairs world. One of them is under your responsibility, better known as ERMA.

SCHWARTZ: We don't like other people to know about it. (Laughs.)

QUESTIONER: Well, but everybody -- everybody does, right. (Laughs.)

But the real question here is, you have ERMA, which has a contingency character; you have the disaster-response capacity over at USAID, which obviously has a contingency character to some degree; and, one that's rather less known, which is the - - (inaudible) - - notwithstanding capacity of EUR/ACE in the Eastern European and former Soviet Union area, which has its own qualities of contingency.

And the question that I have on that, in terms of your relationship to the Congress, is why is it that Congress has been willing to grant these contingency qualities in the area of international affairs? They do exist. And it seems to me at least two elements you might comment on:

One is the very clear capacity to measure impact and result in at least two of those cases, Eastern Europe, former Soviet more -- less clear. But the other is also the regularity of information flow and consultation with the Congress in both cases -- in all three cases, in fact; that there is a very, almost seamless communications web that links the appropriators and the authorizers in those capacities to what the department and AID are able to do. So that's the contingency question.

The other one has to do with capacity. And there I wonder if I could get both of you to elaborate, if you can, a little bit more -- it's maybe harder for you Eric, on the USAID S/CRS relationship. Because it does seem to me that we are -- we have two organizations which have been somewhat at loggerheads in this area and not capable, really very well, of coordinating with each other, but we're busy developing a capacity in the State Department -- some of whose characteristics already exist in a kind of a small, but very best quality way in USAID.

And I'm thinking particularly about the Office of Conflict Mitigation and Prevention; I'm thinking about the ("dark ?) team" capacity; I'm thinking about OTI. All of which exists in this best -- and have been best practice in all three areas in an existing agency.

Does it make sense to build separate, parallel capabilities at S/CRS, or to find -- define a different relationship between the two, where S/CRS bears more on the policy issues and USAID's capacities are more fully enhanced and developed in order to be the operator/implementor? Thank you.

SCHWARTZ: Small questions. (Laughter.)

Should I go first --

JOULWAN: Go ahead. Please try it.

SCHWARTZ: Let me answer your second one first, and see if I can do so in a way that doesn't get me expelled from my position as co-chair of the working group.

Here's the question, all right: The question is why do you need to develop an operational capacity at the Department of State? That's the question. And the simple answer against is: That's what AID does, right. So we know what the answer against is.

And the answer in favor has to do with -- and hopefully when I'm done nobody will say, you know, I was an advocate for one or the other, but the answer -- and it could breakdown with respect to different capabilities, right. But the general answer in favor is the connection between -- the point I made in my talk, which is that this is the area of statecraft where the connection between assistance on the one hand, and diplomacy and security imperatives on the other, has got to be most tightly connected.

And so the question is, does that requirement mean that all the capacities need to be in the same department -- at least in some cases; or, does it mean no, it doesn't? And just to give you an illustration of what I'm talking about, you know, we've done -- we do tens of millions of dollars of assistance to Sri Lanka. You know, I went to Sri Lanka to talk about the internment camps in Sri Lanka for refugees. I didn't speak to Sri Lanka's economic minister, or Sri Lanka's development minister; I spoke to Sri Lanka's president. And, you know, when I went to Jordan a couple of -- last week, you know, I saw the Jordanian prime minister.

Now, the question is -- so that's humanitarian diplomacy, which is connected to, also control of assistance resources -- can you replicate those sorts of capacities, you know, through an AID-State relationship? In other words, take my bureau and put it in another place, and whoever's in charge plays that same role. That's the question. And that's what we're -- that's what we're, kind of, working our way through.

And that's how it answer(s) your S/CRS question versus, you know, USAID. And I think in each one of those capabilities -- when you're talking about each one of those operational capabilities you have to ask that question and, sort of, think your way through it. And we don't -- I don't know what the answer is going to be to those questions, but that is the question.

On your first -- I hope that, I hope that was a safe answer -- on the first, on the first question, yeah, I mean, you identified some of the reasons why we're able to do these contingency funds -- humanitarian. You also did mention one, they're humanitarian, so that's purely humanitarian, so that makes it easier with the Congress; we have an incredibly robust dialogue with the Congress on these issues, you know, we're in daily contact with Congressional staff on our accounts; and, it's relatively small -- it's a relatively small amount of money.

We've had this discussion in my bureau, because right now, as a general matter, we plan and program -- literally, of my, of our $1.7 billion budget, we plan and program every dollar. From my 2011 budget, you know, my program offices could say what that last dollar in Southern Africa was going to -- what contingency that last dollar was going to be used to address. And it's based on the proposition that we need to demonstrate extraordinary planning capability.

That doesn't prevent us, when things don't happen exactly as we expect them to happen, to shift resources. But, thus far, the theology that we've operated under was "better to demonstrate this robust planning capacity than to say, you know, just give us a lot of walking-around money." And that's the issue that we're going to confront as we think about creating contingency accounts.

JOULWAN: Anything --

STARES: Just quickly. Gordon, you know, you've had some excellent questions there, and as you point out, there are many pools or pots of money available for different contingencies.

And from my understanding, talking to people about the ability to exploit those resources, that it's an issue of various strings attached to particular contingencies they can be used for, the rapidity of the release of those funds in a crisis. And it was a recurring hindrance that people talked about whenever we'd ask them, you know, "If you could wave a magic wand, what would you like most in a crisis," and it's always this ability to tap the funds.

I recall interviewing Jendayi Frazer, a former assistant secretary of state for Africa -- the Africa Bureau, after the Kenya crisis, and she said, you know, that was an enduring problem in being able to backstop Kofi Anan's mediation effort. She said, you know, "I'd be stuck on a tarmac in Southern Africa; I'd have to beg, borrow and steal DOD assets; they would give me this horrendous bill at the end of the trip" -- (laughter) -- and, you know, "I knew that that money was coming out of my hide somewhere." You know, it was covered, but -- and so it was a consistent problem.

So I think something that is a little more consolidated, streamlined, easier to use. How that would be defined, I don't know. You and others here are better able to do that. But that seemed to be consistent problem that people raised when we talked to them.

On the CRC, USAID, you know, we wrung our hands on this a great deal. And in the end we kind of ducked the answer, and we said, basically, it should be part of a QDDR review, because we recognized that there are good arguments, both on the AID side of the house and on the State side of the house.

And I think, you know, whatever is decided, there has to be clear division of labor; some, again, consolidation or rationalization of resources; certainly clear operational guidelines about the contingencies or the circumstances in which one asset can be used, or they're used together -- that clearly has to be defined.

Our main focus was the CRC, the Civilian Reserve Corps, would primarily be used -- or it was being set up primarily for contingencies that were probably going to become quite rare, very, you know, high-end stabilization and reconstruction missions. And where we felt the real lacuna was, was in terms of being able to provide rapid diplomatic support for contingencies abroad -- to bolster a U.S. embassy in a crisis, to provide backstopping mediation support to an international effort, these kinds of things, and that's where we felt there was a real need for a surge capacity.

JOULWAN: Right here, please -- you're next.

QUESTIONER: Thank you. Fred Tipson, with the U.N. Development Program here in Washington.

Eric, you made the point about where you sit affects how you look at things. And you've sat at UNHCR, you know what it's like to feel like an international civil servant. And I've only been at the U.N. for a couple of years and I'm still getting used to what that feels like.

And I know, Paul, the next phase of this project is going to look at multilateral options in greater depth and see how that fits into the picture.

But my comment really is that, even in looking at the U.S. "in/out" look at the world, that the multilateral options need to be considered a lot sooner, not just as alternative channels that come -- you know, Microsoft, Exxon Mobil, UNDP, the Gates Foundation, but come to grips with the fact that in trying to do some of the tough tasks in prevention, and conflict recovery that have to go on, that considerations of sovereignty, and legitimacy, and self-respect, and so forth, affect so much the equation in how people on the ground in these other countries look at things, that there is something, indeed, unique about the United Nations -- I don't even like the word "brand," but the legitimacy that that creates.

Now, you know, in this job I hear constantly about the limitations of the United Nations from other -- from U.S. officials and people on the Hill, "you can't do this, you can't do that; or, you don't do this well enough; or, here's my -- here's my case that illustrates the inabilities of the U.N." And my reaction is, nevertheless, if you decide that you can only accomplish some of these tasks through a multilateral -- not just U.N., but a multilateral, more legitimate set of institutions, then isn't the question 'how the U.S. organizes itself and invests in these multilateral options to make them what they need to be,' rather than to say, 'well, they obviously can't accomplish what we need to do, therefore we need to do it through U.S. Marines.'

Now, you know, the Marines are as smart as anybody in understanding the limitations of their own situation. So I'm by no means suggesting that the military isn't smart on these issues. And, in fact, some of the people -- I heard the case for stronger U.N. activity is from the U.S. military. But I don't, I don't see it -- in all the studies that went into the campaign, I don't see it in a lot of the conversations that are going on now.

So I guess my question is, can we expect that the QDR -- QDDR will deal with that issue, front and center, rather than sort of leave it until we figure out what AID's going to be when it grows up, or all the other preliminary things that seem to occupy these conversations -- (inaudible) --

STARES: I think you raise an important point. I think certainly, rhetorically, there's been a real seachange in terms of U.S. predisposition to working with the U.N. and other regional organizations. Susan Rice -- Ambassador Rice has made a series of high-level speeches, I think Secretary Clinton too, emphasizing the importance of partnerships with, particularly, the U.N. And I think there is a genuine desire to work through the U.N., pay the dues, be good partners; and, moreover, invest in capacity at certain levels. The question is, you know, which parts of the U.N. system should we enhance and build up and which ones maybe we leave alone for the moment, and the comparative advantages.

But there's no question that what you're saying is true, in terms of both burden-sharing and legitimacy. There are real advantages with working through international partners. So the issue is, you know, getting beyond this, sort of, rhetorical commitment to working with them, and actually making the partnerships work in practice.

SCHWARTZ: Well, Paul spoke about a rhetorical commitment and then described a whole bunch of very real ways that policy has shifted. So he contradict -- I mean, you --

STARES: Well --

SCHWARTZ: -- contradicted yourself.

I think it's a very important point to make, because I think you can probably go back about 30 years before you would find an administration that has, not only rhetorically but concretely, in its first months in office, done more to engage and invest in U.N. capacity.

We say, well, repaying the arrears was a nice thing. Do you men-- do you know how many years we've been arrears with the U.N.? Do you know the magnitude of the arrears when we -- when this administration came into office? I don't have the figure off hand, but it was many, many hundreds of millions of dollars. And in a snap of the -- you know, in the first months of the administration that problem was off the table. It was done.

And, similarly, you know, investing in peacekeeping capacity; investing in international humanitarian -- this year was the year in which our contribution to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian was higher than it had ever been. And so there's a -- and so Susan's statements and the president's statements reflect what it is we're doing. They don't -- you know, they don't express a commitment that, you know, that isn't being implemented and practiced day in and day out. I feel very strongly about it because I think -- I really think there is a lot of ("they're" ?) there.

But I think we -- there is a risk that in this QDDR process, you know, this issue is not -- it may not get the kind of attention that it deserves. You know, but I don't think that's going to happen. The bureau I run is probably the one in which there is, within the government, the greatest commitment to investment in international organizations. Most of our budget is for our involvement with international organizations. And it's kind of a model of how we try to invest, but also sustain a sense of accountability for the money that we're spending.

But I think you're right. I mean, if you read the HELP -- remember the HELP Commission report on development assistance? When that thing came out, I did a search for the word "United Nations," and I think I found it one place in the entire report -- if one. I don't -- it may not have been there at all. So I think the issue you've raised is an important one, but I think this administration is very committed on these sets of issues.

JOULWAN: I would agree with that, by the way. I think there's much more action that needs to be taken with the U.N., NATO, the EU, other organizations. But that's going to come, I understand.

Yes?

QUESTIONER: Hi. Is this working? I'm Rachel Schneller. I'm a fellow here at the Council, and also a Foreign Service officer at the State Department.

So I have a two-pronged question -- one prong for assistance secretary, and one prong for you. Speaking as a Foreign Service officer who served three tours overseas in conflict areas, it's not clear to me that we don't already have a fairly robust conflict mechanism within the State Department. The mission performance plans in each country overseas usually notes whether or not a conflict is going on, and usually the aim there is to, you know, mitigate the conflict or to prevent further conflict.

And all of the people at the mission, including USAID, will work together to take care of -- to the extent possible that the U.S. government can, to engage in those activities. So in addition to that, the people on the ground will normally have the training, the regional expertise, the language that it takes to really understand what actions may or may not prevent, or make a conflict worse.

So it's kind of a hard sell for us Foreign Service officers who are bidding on these S/CRS positions to know exactly what we'd be getting into. When we know that if we bid on a country that has a conflict ongoing, we know that's going to be part of our job, but what does the S/CRS office do that improves on what the State Department already has?

And then for Paul, at one point you said, you know, "it's a no-brainer" to focus on conflict prevention because it's so much less expensive. And I was thinking about that and I was wondering -- you know, again, it's the age-old question: How do you know you prevented a conflict if it didn't happen? How do you -- how do you measure your output in conflicts prevented?

And in one of the conflicts that I've -- (laughs) -- that I was present for in Macedonia after the 2001 conflict, I would say that probably, you know, one of the key factors in that conflict not becoming a prolonged civil war was that the U.S. government's attention turned away from it and towards, you know, post-9/11 and to Afghanistan. And by taking the U.S. government out of the conflict, the stakes for the two sides diminishes rapidly. I'm not really sure if U.S. government involvement doesn't have the capacity to actually, you know, make conflicts worse, even if our best intentions are otherwise. Thank you.

JOULWAN: All right, Eric, you could --

SCHWARTZ: Well, sure. First of all, who said insiders could ask questions? (Laughter.) That's what I want to know? (Laughs.)

Well, I think first -- well, let me just answer your questions in two parts: First, there is a consensus, I think, among those who are in our working group that the issue of whole-of-government effort, and integration of effort -- and everyone in the government team playing together nicely and effectively and well, is better developed at posts overseas than in Washington. And so there is something to what you have said.

At the same time, at the same time, there's also a consensus that capacity is uneven from one place to the other -- number one. And number two, there are times in which the post needs additional help.

And I'll give you an example: You know, we will be deploying S/CRS to the Congo over the next many weeks to address five critical issue areas where that capacity -- to moving quickly with (an) operational abilities, to move policy priorities, you know, can supplement the embassy's efforts in areas like gender-based violence, security-sector reform, economic governance, and several other areas.

So those teams will -- those teams will go in and basically will, essentially, in a coordinated manner, enable the embassy to supercharge its efforts in circumstances where we feel there are important policy actions that need to be taken and that require a level of effort that's just beyond what the embassy has at a particular moment.

STARES: This is an "old chestnut" in the conflict prevention field of, you know, how you prove a negative. And it's true that you cannot do a formal cost-benefit comparison of the costs of prevention. I should argue that prevention is not a freebie; it also involves expenditures.

But given that we know that the costs of conflict can be extraordinarily high, the preventive efforts -- we know that they are clearly going to be more larger than the preventive ones. Now, what bothers me is that --

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