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Pinstripes to cargo pants -- Clinton tailors new vision for diplomacy

By Elise Labott, CNN
  • It is the first-ever undertaking for the State Department
  • Approach will focus on American leadership through civilian power
  • Going forward, diplomats likely to wear cargo pants as a pinstriped suit.

Washington (CNN) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is outlining how she plans to redefine U.S. diplomacy and development ahead of a top-down review which has taken place this year and will be released in the coming weeks.

In an essay in the November/December issue of Foreign Affairs, Clinton previews the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, commonly referred to as the QDDR. The review, the first-ever such an undertaking for the State Department, is meant to balance a similar quadrennial review by the Defense Department that projects their strategy and priorities.

The new approach to development, Clinton says, will focus on American leadership through civilian power. Both Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and have talked about "demilitarizing" foreign policy, and Clinton says the QDDR will suggest how to do that, with a whole new set of resources for diplomacy and development, much of which will be geared toward fragile states in conflict or crisis.

In the article, Clinton painted the broad strokes of the document, which she called a blueprint for reforms to be implemented over the next four years. Those reforms include modernizing and coordinating diplomacy across U.S. government agencies, creating a stronger nexus between diplomacy and development and ensuring that development undertaken by the U.S. has a lasting and "sustainable" impact.

"Economic growth is the surest route out of poverty, and expanding and strengthening middle classes around the world will be key to creating the just and sustainable international order that lies at the heart of the United States' national security strategy," Clinton wrote in Foreign Affairs. She said that the U.S. ultimate goal in development was to "put itself out of business" by boosting up countries to assume responsibility for their own projects and future.

President Barack Obama laid out the vision and the basic pillars of the policy in September at the United Nations General Assembly when he released the "U.S. Global Development Policy," which changes U.S. efforts to focus on building up countries that demonstrate good governance and economic potential.

But the QDDR will outline how to put that policy into practice. Officials say the 150-page document will detail everything from how the United States conducts multilateral diplomacy, how the United States undertakes "stabilization" efforts in post-conflict areas, how the State Department works with USAID and contractors to the types and numbers of personnel needed to implement the new approach.

American diplomats going forward, Clinton said, are as likely to wear cargo pants as a pinstriped suit.