Diplomacy & Development: Partners or Competitors?
2010 Sisco Memorial Lecture
November 3, 2010

Under the Administration of President Obama, increased focus has been placed on restoring the balance between development, diplomacy, and defense in foreign policy.  Accordingly, development has risen in prominence over the past years with the Department of State, Department of Defense, and USAID all jockeying for greater control over development and humanitarian aid and programs.  Given this environment, as well as the bureaucratic integration of USAID and the Department of State, questions have arisen as to how the US government can best manage the relationship particularly between development and diplomacy.  Further, the very nature of development has come under greater scrutiny, driving the need to rethink how we deliver aid, how we can do so more efficiently, and how we can build trust internationally of our development goals and motivations in the process.  The Sisco Memorial Lecture: “Diplomacy & Development: Partners or Competitors?” was held in the School of International Service at American University in Washington DC to discuss this uncertain relationship between our most important foreign policy tools.

Featured panel speakers were Dr.  Louis Goodman (Dean, AU School of International Service), Ambassador Wendy Chamberlain (President, Middle East Institute), Professor David Hirschmann (AU School of International Service, International Development section) and Dr. Nancy Birdsall (President, Center for Global Development.  Ambassador Ronald Neumann moderated the discussion.

The discussion centered on the following main themes:

  • Conflict between the Department of State, Department of Defense and USAID over who should be responsible for development aid has led to an unfortunate “turf battle” due to development’s recent rise in prominence and prestige as an integral part of foreign policy
  • The inherent conflict between the goals and strategies of development and diplomacy challenge their integration, though they are bureaucratically associated
  • The integration of diplomatic initiatives and development aid often casts doubt among the recipient population as to the true motivations behind development programs, given diplomacy’s strict allegiance to the national interest
  • Development is, and should be, concentrated on long-term programs and strategies, divorced from short-term diplomatic and military objectives


The panel discussion was followed by a dinner with a keynote address from Donald K. Steinberg, Deputy Administrator of USAID.


About the Joseph J. Sisco Memorial Forum

2011 Joseph J. Sisco Memorial Lecture Series
Crisis Management and Diplomacy

2010 Joseph J. Sisco Memorial Lecture Series "Diplomacy & Development: Partners or Competitors?"

2009 Sisco Memorial Forum
Diplomacy in Iraq

2008 Sisco Memorial Lecture Series
Foreign Affairs Budget for the Future

2007 Sisco Memorial Forum
United Nations Peacekeeping

2005 Sisco Memorial Forum
United Nations Reform


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