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State of Disrepair: Fixing the Culture and Practices of the State Department (Hoover Institution Press Publication) 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0817914547
ISBN-10: 0817914544
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Editorial Reviews

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.

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Product Details

  • Series: Hoover Institution Press Publication (Book 620)
  • Hardcover: 194 pages
  • Publisher: Hoover Institution Press; 1st edition (March 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0817914544
  • ISBN-13: 978-0817914547
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #163,791 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kori Schake is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and an associate professor of international security studies at the United States Military Academy.

During the 2008 presidential election, she was senior policy adviser to the McCain-Palin campaign, responsible for policy development and outreach in the areas of foreign and defense policy.

From 2007 to 2008 she was the deputy director for policy planning in the state department. In addition to staff management, she worked on resourcing and organizational effectiveness issues, including a study of what it would take to "transform" the state department so as to enable integrated political, economic, and military strategies.

During President Bush's first term, she was the director for Defense Strategy and Requirements on the National Security Council. She was responsible for interagency coordination for long-term defense planning and coalition maintenance issues. Projects Schake contributed to include conceptualizing and budgeting for continued transformation of defense practices; the most significant realignment of US military forces and bases around the world since 1950; creating NATO's Allied Command Transformation and the NATO Response Force; and recruiting and retaining coalition partners for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

She has held the Distinguished Chair of International Security Studies at West Point, and also served in the faculties of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, the University of Maryland's School of Public Affairs, and the National Defense University. She is on the boards of the journal Orbis and the Centre for European Reform and blogs for Foreign Policy's Shadow Government.

Her publications include State of Disrepair: Fixing the Culture and Practices of the State Department (Hoover Institution Press, 2012), Managing American Hegemony: Essays on Power in a Time of Dominance (Hoover Institution Press, 2009), "Choices for the Quadrennial Defense Review" (Orbis, 2009), "Dealing with a Nuclear Iran" (Policy Review, 2007), "Jurassic Pork" (New York Times, 2006). She coauthored "How America Should Lead" (Policy Review, 2002), and coedited The Berlin Wall Crisis: Perspectives on Cold War Alliances (2002), and "Building a European Defense Capaibility" (Survival,, 1999).

From 1990 to 1996, she worked in Pentagon staff jobs, first in the Joint Staff's Strategy and Policy Directorate (J-5) and then in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Donald M. Bishop on September 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
According to author Kori Schake of the Hoover Institution, the "culture shock of working in the Department of State for someone who'd professionally grown up in the Pentagon is difficult to overstate." In this book she argues that the Department is in "disrepair" and needs "fixing."

Schake's diagnosis and the strong medicine she prescribes largely stem from the Department's shortcomings in Iraq and Afghanistan. "State has not been able to provide the personnel, readiness, flexibility, agility, and funding to support and shape reconstruction programs." The Department "fails to foster the talent it possesses." "The 'whole of government operations' mantra chanted by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Admiral Mullen should be understood as a plea by the Department of Defense for State to better do its job." To Schake, these organizational shortcomings have "atrophied" the Department, and they have become excuses for failure. Now is the time, she argues, to address training, education, and planning deficits, and to untangle the confusion of executive authorities that hobbled America's response after 9/11.

Fine people in the Department of State have brilliant insights on every regional and functional issue in foreign policy, but without a management and professional upgrade, the Department and the Foreign Service will fall short. Foreign policy specialists must consider this sweeping, brief, and direct call for action.

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Fairly factual, although quite opinionated and biased (negatively) review of the current state of State. The prescriptive solutions do not appear to be based upon sufficient knowledge of State or its legislative affairs challenges. There is little doubt that a comp,tee reformation of the organism that is current,y State is needed, but I would argue that this tome is more a list of the key dis functionality of State than a road map of how to improve the organization.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jones on September 20, 2012
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I work for the State Department. As I read this book I kept thinking "Yes, that is exactly what is happening..." The book is honest. And because of that, people in the Department don't like. They don't like to talk about it - they get nervous when you mention it. But this is the sort of assessment that the Department desperately needs so that it can improve. It is an quick read. Deeply insightful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D.Caraccilo on August 9, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Strong, honest and to the point. Imagine the strength of a strong DOD working along side a strong, educated, methodically organized and well resourced DOS -- imagine what great things - together - they could accomplish... for those that have difficulty imagining such synergy, Kori Schake does it for us in State of Disrepair
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