Tuesday, January 29, 2008

State of the Union: Where’s the Diplomacy?

Ann Vaughan
Ann Vaughan, FCNL
Guest blogger

It was refreshing to hear the president's references during the State of the Union to the importance of confronting global poverty and hunger and to hear his pronouncement about doubling funding for HIV/AIDS --albeit during the next President's tenure. I was especially pleased to hear the President challenge Congress to fix some of the problems of US international food aid by allowing for the US government to buy food locally and help build up foreign countries indigenous capacity to produce food and combat famine.

But I was disturbed and disheartened by the absence of the word “diplomacy,” which was not used once during the State of the Union address. This silence in regards to laying out a comprehensive and effective foreign policy is particular stunning at a time when more and more voices are highlighting the importance of diplomacy. Last November, Secretary of Defense Gates called for more funding for diplomacy and development to address the "Global War on Terror," instead of just focusing on a military solution to defeating the terrorists.

While 2008 has already been written off by many as an election year when nothing much of consequence can happen in Washington, the president could make this year a banner year by working actively to support the State Department and USAID. He could begin by following the advice of his Secretary of Defense to recognize the importance of a balanced foreign policy that focuses on prevention of conflict and support for diplomacy and development.

On a more positive note, I’m thankful the president used his platform last night to mention the crisis in Sudan and keep continued attention on the genocide that is occurring there. The president can make a positive legacy by continuing to focus on Sudan throughout the year and ensuring that there is a focus on an 'all Sudan' solution.


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