From the Inside Flap
Earnest advocates of effective US engagement in the world envision the military's role returning to a smaller role as other government agencies, principally the US Department of State, increase their influence and activity. Yet few believe that the State Department is currently performing at a level adequate to the need. As Kori Schake shows, we can and should strengthen our civilian power. State must develop the means of assessing activity so that it can make a credible case that money spent on civilian power is a better investment than other alternatives.
Developed in reaction to the proposition that America's civilian agencies could not be made as successful as the military, State of Disrepair: Fixing the Culture and Practices of the State Department presents a vision of what a successful State Department should look like and seeks to build support for creating it. The book describes a State Department whose ideas for shaping the world in positive ways drive the agenda of America's engagement and build a broad base of public support to which elected leaders can respond. The author outlines her ideas on how to create a State Department that attracts entrepreneurial people, developing in them the means and providing the support to effectively promote US values and interests throughout the world: a State Department that cultivates support by understanding and solving problems, our own and other those of other countries, that has as its core mission the protection of Americans at home and abroad, and that has built a solid basis of domestic support for its needs and activities. Her specific proposals include tighter focus on consular activity as the department's raison d'etre, limbering up the personnel system, providing professional education, encouraging greater risk tolerance in the performance of duty, reconsidering where representation needs to be physically located, and establishing a stable basis for long-term funding—all basic elements of good management.
Such a State Department is within reach, the author concludes. We owe it to our diplomats to make that effort, and we owe it to the soldiers, sailors, members of the air force, and marines of our military to take diplomacy as seriously as we take warfare.
From the Back Cover
Imagining a State Department as effective as the US military
Conventional wisdom in Washington in recent years has maintained that the US State Department is dramatically undernourished for the work required of US civilian power. In State of Disrepair: Fixing the Culture and Practices of the State Department, Kori Schake shows how the deficiencies in focus, education, and programmatic proficiency impede the work of the State Department and suggests how investing in those areas could make the agency significantly more successful at building stable and prosperous democratic governments around the world.
Schake explains why, instead of burdening the US military with yet another inherently civilian function, work should focus on bringing those agencies of the government whose job it is to provide development assistance up to the standard of success that our military has achieved. She offers suggestions aimed at creating a more solid basis for civilian-led US diplomacy, imagining a State Department that actually does lead US foreign policy and makes possible the projection of US civilian power as well as US military force.