“Vocation Crisis” in the State Department:
Problems of Converting US Foreign Policy Potential into Influence
Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO University), Moscow, Russia, email@example.com_id: 240313 | ORCID: 0000-0003-2076-7332 | RESEARCHER_ID: F-8930-2017
Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO University), Moscow, Russia, firstname.lastname@example.org_id: 845426 | ORCID: 0000-0003-1128-2106 | RESEARCHER_ID: AAC-1764-2020
Despite the high aggregate level of the US’ power, including its “soft power”, and significant amounts of funding allocated for diplomacy and the staffing thereof, a number of events in recent years indicate the problem of converting the foreign policy potential of the United States into real influence. An analysis of the evolution of US State Department priorities and work processes since the end of the Cold War suggests that presidential administrations have repeatedly approached this problem with various reform projects. However, none of them worked to solve the fundamental problem of the State Department. Secretaries of State entered the ministry with a new, often deeply idealistic, normative program, seeking to “reset” their department in a new way. Considering the practice of the State Department functioning in the administrations of George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump, the authors come to the conclusion that the American foreign policy process suffers from a set of chronic problems which cannot be resolved and in some cases have even been incorrectly identified by the actors of US foreign policy. These include (1) the use of foreign policy as a tool for the implementation of domestic political goals, (2) an excessive normative emphasis on foreign policy goal-setting, and (3) the American foreign policy community losing the culture of developing qualification skills necessary for diplomacy. The authors state that the problem of converting the US foreign policy potential into influence is difficult to overcome, but the US is satisfied with the current state of affairs as long as there is a significant imbalance in foreign policy financing between them and key international rivals.
Art R.J. 1996. American Foreign Policy and the Fungibility of Force. – Security Studies. Vol. 5. No. 4. P. 7-42. https://doi.org/10.1080/09636419608429287
Burns W.J. 2019. The Back Channel: A Memoir of American Diplomacy and the Case for Its Renewal. New York: Random House. 512 p.
Daalder I., Destler I. 2009. In the Shadow of the Oval Office: Profiles of the National Security Advisers and the Presidents They Served – from JFK to George W. Bush. New York: Simon & Schuster. 400 p.
Deibel T.L. 2007. Foreign Affairs Strategy: Logic for American Statecraft. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 450 p.
Fettweis Ch. 2018. Psychology of a Superpower: Security and Dominance in U.S. Foreign Policy. New York: Columbia University Press. 280 p.
Gans J. 2019. White House Warriors: How the National Security Council Transformed the American Way of War. New York: Liveright Publishing. 272 p.
Herring G. 2011. From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations since 1776. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1056 p.
Hook S.W. 2019. U.S. Foreign Policy: The Paradox of World Power. 6th Edition. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press. 376 p.
Jentleson B. 2013. American Foreign Policy: The Dynamics of Choice in the 21st Century. 5th Edition. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. 768 p.
Kennan G.F. 1984. American Diplomacy. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. xii, 171 p.
King Ch. 2015. The Decline of International Studies. Why Flying Blind Is Dangerous. – Foreign Affairs. Vol. 94. No. 4. P. 88-98.
Pape R.A. 1997. Why Economic Sanctions Do Not Work. – International Security. Vol. 22. No. 2. P. 90-136. https://doi.org/10.1162/isec.22.2.90
Preeg E.H. 1999. Feeling Good or Doing Good with Sanctions: Unilateral Economic Sanctions and the U.S. National Interest. Washington, D.C.: Center for Strategic and International Studies. 263 p.
Scoville R.M. 2019. Unqualified Ambassadors. – Duke Law Journal. No. 71. P. 71-196.
Thompson K.W. 1967. Normative Theory in International Relations. Journal of International Affairs. Vol. 21. No. 2. P. 278-92.
Khrustalev M.A. 2008. Analiz mezhdunarodnykh situatsii i politicheskaya ekspertiza: ocherki teorii i metodologii [Analysis of International Situations and Political Expertise: Essays on Theory and Methodology]. Moscow: MGIMO-AEFIR. 232 p. (In Russ.)
Foreign policy process. – Polis. Political Studies. 2012. No4
Melville A.Yu., Ilyin M.V., Makarenko B.I., Meleshkina Ye.Yu., Mironyuk M.G., Sergeev V.M., Timofeev I.N.,
Russian Foreign Policy as Seen by the Expert Community. – Polis. Political Studies. 2009. No4
POLITICAL DISCOURSE: NATIONAL AND STATE INTEREST IN MODERN WORLD POLITICS. – Polis. Political Studies. 2000. No1
Round Table of the «Polis» Journal, Streltsov D.V., Chugrov S.V., Karelova L.B., Oznobishchev S.K.,
Russia and Japan. Part II. View from Russia. – Polis. Political Studies. 2014. No1
National and State Interests of Russia: Play on Words or Play with Words?. – Polis. Political Studies. 2000. No1