For John, BLUF: It is often hard to get different Departments in an Administration to work together. Nothing to see here; just move along.
Columnist David Ignatius, of The Washington Post, tackles the question of coordination in our foreign policy, under the title "Can we close the power gap?". He frames it in terms of "sitting at the table"♠ at a National Security Council meeting.
Imagine that you’re sitting at the table as the National Security Council debates the deteriorating political and security situation in a North African country (take your pick). The president asks how the United States can prevent conflict there without sending in the military. Various Cabinet members and agency directors look awkwardly at each other — because nobody has a good answer.I am not sure Mr Ignatius has any good answers. He talks about "soft power" and "smart power", but he doesn't have an answer. Perhaps the new team President Obama is assembling will be able to "close the power gap?
Here lies one of the biggest unresolved problem for U.S. national-security planners today: How can America shape events in an unstable world without putting “boots on the ground” or drones in the air? Does this stabilizing mission belong to the experts at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)? Or to the State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, which was created in 2011 to deal with such problems? Or to the facilitators and analysts at the U.S. Institute of Peace, which was created in 1984 to help resolve conflicts peacefully? Or maybe to the covert-action planners at the CIA, who work secretly to advance U.S. interests in key countries?
Regards — Cliff
♠ Maybe "sitting at the table" is a term more used in our nation's capitol. It is a way of distinguishing between those who are the "principals", and thus empowered to talk, and the "horse holders", who can pass papers to the "principals", but are not authorized to voice their own opinions.