U.S. Deputy Secretary of State emphasizes the importance of America’s role abroad in first Future of Diplomacy Project interview
October 14, 2010
Author: Sarah Kneezle, Coordinator, The Future of Diplomacy Project
Belfer Center Programs or Projects: The Future of Diplomacy Project
The world “hungers” for American engagement and leadership, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg said in the first Future of Diplomacy Project interview, a series aimed at gaining insights on international affairs from prominent policy makers.
In a one-on-one discussion with Nicholas Burns, Project faculty director and professor of the practice of diplomacy and international politics at Harvard Kennedy School, Steinberg emphasized the importance of using diplomacy as a critical tool in advancing U.S. interests.
“If there is an opportunity through dialogue to reach a result that meets our national security interests, then why not?” he said. Steinberg cautioned, however, that diplomacy was only one tool toward achieving unilaterally and multilaterally set objectives.
“If the dialogue doesn’t succeed you’re in a better position to pursue other avenues,” he said.
Steinberg also argued that diplomacy is not only a means of engaging in constructive dialogue with adversaries such as North Korea and Iran, but also a means of maintaining and enhancing existing partnerships, such as that with the European Union. These ties, he claimed, are critical in meeting policy objectives abroad.
“Having capable partners who see you as someone they want to work with allows us to be able to do more, to expand our field of vision and be actively engaged,” Steinberg said.
In the 15-minute interview, Steinberg also addressed the United State’s relationships with China and India, and described the crucial balance between utilizing diplomacy, development and defense.
The Future of Diplomacy Project aims to deepen the public understanding of diplomacy’s indispensible role in an increasingly complex and globalized world. The interview series will draw on the experience of accomplished leaders, such as Steinberg, to highlight this critical topic.
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