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Understanding the Role of the Department of State

Updated on April 13, 2015

The Department of State mission is presented below and while reading through it the mission is an admirable one but one which takes some determination not only by the Secretary but those who work for the organization. The mission statement is:
“The Department's mission is to shape and sustain a peaceful, prosperous, just, and democratic world and foster conditions for stability and progress for the benefit of the American people and people everywhere. This mission is shared with the USAID, ensuring we have a common path forward in partnership as we invest in the shared security and prosperity that will ultimately better prepare us for the challenges of tomorrow.”

The most critical function of this government entity is associated with the implementation of the foreign policy of the President. It is directly involved with U.S. Foreign affairs as the secretary is the lead in this agency. It takes not only the secretary but the individuals who work for this entity to be involved with conducting diplomacy. Diplomacy actions involve many things not the least of which is promoting peace and stability in regions of vital interest to the United States. This is an activity in support of strategic goals. One such action today is the negotiations with Iran. It is definitely a vital area but the content of any negotiations and agreement must be beneficial to both sides. Both sides must agree on the interpretation. One way to eliminate this situation is to have clear language which cannot be interpreted. Any negotiations whether it is an agreement or treaty must be approved by Congress for it to be binding. In addition if it impacts the security and stability of the region regardless of the country involved these concerns must address these elements. Security and stability should be increased not decreased with the completion of any negotiations if it is not then there should be no agreement.

Along with implementing the President’s foreign policy and there are five strategic goals associated with the overall mission of this entity. They are listed below along with some discussion as to what they represent in association with the mission. The first goal involves the strengthening of America’s economic reach and positive economic impact. While this is a viable goal how it is accomplished makes the difference between success and failure. In addition another strategic goal is to modernize the way diplomacy activities are developed. The world as we know it today is much different and as a result our diplomacy efforts must change tactics to be successful.

As a country we have strategic challenges and our foreign policy has an impact on those challenges which is another strategic goal. Two other goals involve the promotion of a

low-emission, climate-resilient world while expanding global access to sustainable energy. Another goal involves protecting our interests as a country by advancing democracy and human rights while strengthening civil society. With respect to the energy aspect it is not and should not be the responsibility of the state department to be involved with energy access around the world unless it involves negotiations to provide some of our energy resources if applicable to other countries. The energy department is the one which should address energy concerns.

In support of strategic goals other aspects not already mentioned is that the state department is involved in promoting and protecting the interests of Americans by creating jobs at home by opening markets abroad. In addition our involvement with other countries at least in the past was to help developing nations establish investment and export opportunities. Forging partnerships to address global challenges, such as climate change and resource scarcity, nuclear proliferation, terrorism, gender inequality, human trafficking, the spread of communicable diseases, cross-border pollution, humanitarian crises, nuclear smuggling, and narcotics trafficking. This activity to be mentioned as part of the responsibilities and authority given

to this department.

One last point to make is the activity of the state department getting involved in the educational system by establishing agreements with states such as Arkansas. The state department has launched an activity titled the "Arkansas Declaration of Learning" in Support of Secondary Education & Learning With Historic Objects & Art” This agreement with the state of Arkansas and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, and the Arkansas Department of Education should not be something within which the state department should be involved.

The objective of the above initiative is not the problem it is the involvement of the state department, it should be the education department which should have initiated this activity.

It is understood that this initiative is part of a national Inter-Agency Educational Initiative which began when representatives from 14 national partnering organizations signed the “Declaration of Learning” in 2012. Again this should be an education department activity to initiate and be the focal point for such agreement not the state department. It is not a part of the mission or their strategic goals which have been identified above.



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