Diplomacy and communication key to solving world conflicts

Tony Gorder

Tony Gorder

Diplomatic resources are currently lacking, making diplomacy abroad more and more difficult to achieve, according to William Caldwell Harrop, former United States ambassador to Guinea, Seychelles, Kenya, Congo and Israel, at a lecture Feb. 24 in Lincoln Music Hall.

“Diplomacy, really, I suppose you could say is in a crisis,” said Harrop.

In addition to his work as an ambassador, Harrop served as Inspector General of the State Department and Foreign Service, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and Deputy Chief of Mission in Canberra, Australia. He also was a member of the State Department’s Policy Planning and Coordination Staff.

According to Harrop the “budget for diplomacy” or 150 Account, which funds everything under the U.S. Secretary of State such as United States Agency for International Development along with the civilian sides of national security international relations, dropped by 50 percent only a few years after the end of the Cold War.

“It was a kind of a retreat from the world in way – a kind of indifference to international relations,” said Harrop.

Since then, the budget for diplomacy continued to drop. By Sept. 11, 2001, positions overseas in things like embassies had a shortfall of 20 percent. Also in response to lack of funds, very little training is given to those working in foreign services.

“That’s been a huge problem,” said Harrop.

There are four basic functions of diplomacy, with the first being core diplomacy, said Harrop.

Core diplomacy means all the things one would think of when thinking of diplomacy. Things like negotiation, political agreements, economic agreements, trade agreements, reporting back to America what is going on in a country, representing the U.S, persuading people in the United Nations and forming coalitions.

The second is public diplomacy, which is the face of the U.S. It is when the U.S. explains what it is doing and why.

“Public diplomacy is a big issue,” said Harrop. “Public diplomacy staff is way down, budgets are down, and this is certainly attributed to the international policies of the Bush administration

The third function of diplomacy is foreign assistance, with the main source being United States Agency for International Development or USAID, an independent federal agency guided by the Secretary of State which advances U.S. foreign policy objectives by supporting economic growth, agriculture, trade, health, democracy, conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance.

“USAID is now pretty much a contracting agency,” said Harrop. “We don’t have the hydrologists, the agronomists, the civil engineers, the medical officers – the people who could really do the work of economic development ? We have people who make contracts with private business, which, in fact is not really as effective of a way to provide development assistance.”

The fourth and final function of diplomacy is reconstruction and stabilization. This is directed at countries that have recently experienced wars, like Iraq and Afghanistan.

Overall, Harrop said that diplomacy and communication is key to solving the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

“It’s an extremely difficult situation, and I don’t know where it’s going to end.”

It is communication with groups like Hamas and countries like Iran that will solve the problems the United States and the world faces, he said.