06 September 2011
Foreign Service Officer: Crisis, Stabilization, & Governance
U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
Describe the impact on foreign policy you have made in your current/past jobs.
Working as a researcher at the Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science & International Affairs, I often had the opportunity to work alongside our scholars and practitioners-in-residence to review, red-team, and further develop the policy ideas of senior government leaders. By providing analytic rigor, historical context, and academic provocation, the research community can have a major impact on policy.
What personal contribution to foreign policy are you most proud of?
By far the most rewarding thing I have ever done was to teach and mentor undergraduate students studying international relations. Many of them are off doing incredibly impressive things in the policy world, and I am enormously proud to have played a bit role in their professional and personal development.
What is your vision of foreign policy in the 21st Century?
The United States needs a strong, smart, principled, and realistic foreign policy that resists the cynicism of fear, the chimera of power, and the timidity of irresolution.
What is the greatest foreign policy issue facing our generation?
The threat of nuclear terrorism is the single biggest national security challenge facing the world. Future generations will either draw inspiration from how U.S. leadership prevented an impending catastrophe or ask why we failed to prevent the most predictable catastrophe.
What challenges need to be overcome to create better foreign policy?
Now that the policy community has come to terms with the interconnectedness of national security challenges in a globalized world, the challenge will be to prioritize and to make painful choices among disparate threats. Organizing the bureaucracy to focus on the most vital national security threats is essential to coping with the unfortunate simultaneity of austerity and multiplying challenges to U.S. hegemony.
What personal, managerial, and leadership skills and traits must the next generation of foreign policy leaders possess?
This first "internet" era generation of foreign policy professionals should strive to bring the best of the wired world – alacrity, communication, and innovation – to bear on the foreign policy bureaucracy.
How can foreign affairs be made more accessible to Americans, particularly younger generations?
The bifurcation of foreign and domestic policies is anachronistic and does not serve our interests. As foreign policy practitioners we need to do a better job of explaining to our fellow citizens why events abroad bear so heavily on their daily lives.
Which living or dead foreign policy practitioner do you look up to the most?
My parents taught me to admire what people do, not who they are. President Truman's recreation of the international system in the wake of World War II is undoubtedly one of the most impressive feats in modern diplomacy. Among the living, Robert Gates is not only a model statesman, but also a model of bipartisanship, decency, patriotism, and service that we should all aspire to mimic in our own lives.
Which living or dead foreign policy practitioner do you think has missed the mark and why?
French Treasury Minister François de Barbé-Marbois, who saw it fit to sell the United States the entire Louisiana territory for a mere $15 million dollars ($219 million in today's dollars) in 1803.
If you could change a critical decision in history to affect foreign policy, what would it be?
The direct, indirect, and opportunity costs of the Iraq war will forever weigh on our generation. I suspect we could have accomplished an enormous deal with a different set of investments.