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Transformational Diplomacy' or 'Regime Change' Doctrine?

By Paul T. Shipale
The recent revelation by Wiki leaks that former US Ambassador to Namibia, Dennis Mathieu, sent diplomatic cables saying H.E. Hifikepunye Pohamba, President of both the SWAPO Party and Namibia, held "little influence" in the country and that two opposition parties in Namibia- the RDP and COD-held secret meetings with the US diplomat in Windhoek in 2008, this is in line with the US's so called "Transformational Diplomacy" crafted in 2006 by that country's former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.

In a August 23, 2007 CRS report for the US Congress, foreign policy analysts Kennon H. Nakamura and Susan B. Epstein of the Congressional research service' division of foreign affairs, defense and trade, alluded to this so-called "Transformational Diplomacy" which is nothing else than the " Regime Change" doctrine. Already in 2007, many foreign affairs experts believed that the international system has undergone a momentous transition which affected its very nature. On January 18, 2006, in a speech at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Secretary Rice outlined her vision for diplomacy changes that she referred to as "transformational diplomacy" to meet this 21st Century world. According to Secretary Rice in her February 14, 2006 testimony before Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the objective of transformational diplomacy was: "to work with (their) many partners around the world to build and sustain democratic, well-governed states that will respond to the needs of their people and conduct themselves responsibly in the international system."

Secretary Rice's announcement included moving people and positions from Washington, D.C., and Europe to "strategic" countries; it also created a new position of Director of Foreign Assistance, modified the tools of diplomacy, and changed U.S. foreign policy emphasis away from relations among governments to one of supporting changes within countries. Many viewed the first term of the George W. Bush Administration as not engaging in diplomacy often enough or as a first line of action in implementing its foreign policy. The Administration gained the reputation in some quarters as conducting "cowboy diplomacy" or having a "go-it-alone" approach to international relations.

The Bush Administration has responded to its critics by saying that the world is a different place since September 11th, and traditional diplomacy may not always be the right strategy. Many foreign affairs experts believed that the international system has undergone a momentous transition affecting its very nature. For indicators of this change, they pointed to the end of the bipolar world of the Cold War, the changing nature of the nation state on which the existing international system is based, the rise of new national power relationships, as well as the growth in the number and the role of non-state participants in the international arena.

These experts also noted the impact that the changes in worldwide communications, due to advances in technology, have had on international relations. For the United States to continue to lead in this world, they argue, it will have to make adjustments to how it operates and relates within the changing system and the new, intense political aspirations causing these changes.

Against this background, on January 18, 2006, Secretary Rice outlined her vision for diplomacy that she referred to as "transformational diplomacy." Implementing the transformational diplomacy proposal included significant changes to the very culture and views of diplomacy, as well as the structure of the foreign affairs institutions in Washington and abroad; to diplomats' posts assignments and their roles at the post; and to the tools of diplomacy. Fully instituting transformational diplomacy was expected to take years, beyond the Bush Administration's second term.

A starting point in understanding the reforms proposed for transformational development is the new Foreign Assistance Framework as a tool to help policy makers with strategic choices on the distribution of funds and to ensure that U.S. foreign assistance advances the Administration's foreign policy objectives, in other words, the US foreign strategic interests.

The Framework identified as the ultimate goal "to help build and sustain democratic, wellgoverned states that respond to the needs of their people, reduce widespread poverty and conduct themselves responsibly in the international system", in other words, regime change, in case they don't adhere to the US foreign policy. Five transformational diplomacy objectives funnel funds and programs toward that goal.

The five objectives are; Peace and Security, Governing justly and Democratically, Investing in People, Economic Growth, and Humanitarian Assistance. These five objectives are linked to the traditional account structure, and are also linked to activities such as "Rule of Law and Human Rights programs" under the "Governing justly and democratically" objective.

Corresponding to the five foreign assistance objectives, the new Foreign Assistance Framework also has five country categories as follows: Rebuilding States - States in, or emerging from, and rebuilding after internal or external conflict. Developing States - States with low or lower-middle income, not yet meeting certain economic and political performance criteria. Transforming States - States with low or lower-middle income, meeting certain economic and political performance criteria. Sustaining Partnership States - States with upper- middle income or greater for which U.S. support is provided to sustain 'partnerships, progress, and peace'. Restrictive States - those States where the State Department or Congress has determined that serious freedom and human rights issues are of concern. And finally, Global or Regional Programs, that extends beyond country boundaries.

Furthermore, several new programs were created to advance the transformational public diplomacy agenda in today's communications environment. In this connection, there is a Rapid Response Unit that monitors foreign broadcasts and blogs and produces a daily oneto- two page report on stories and issues that are discussed.

This daily report, which is sent to an e-mail list of several thousand senior officials from Cabinet Secretaries to Ambassadors and Military Commanders, serves to provide a common "American message" through an "Echo Chamber" Technique where Policy statements are posted on the State Department Intranet to present what they call a unified message on key issues attracting attention in the international media. This provides a common position for those who need to write speeches, draft editorials, and prepare responses to inquiries.

A common message is "echoed" instead of several different messages. "Unleashing" ambassadors means the eliminated former pre-clearance rules so that ambassadors or senior embassy officers can engage the media in their host countries without permission from Washington. Ambassadors and senior embassy officers are expected to speak out, and the ability to engage in public diplomacy is now part of their rating system.

Further, transformational diplomacy also treats public diplomacy on a regional basis by establishing new regional public diplomacy hubs such as the one in London, Dubai, and Brussels, to focus on regional news outlets, such as Al- Jazeera, instead of focusing on the bilateral relations with those countries.

Burns (1978) distinguished transactional from "transforming" leadership which occurs when "leaders and followers raise one another to higher levels of motivation and morality." (p. 20) Bass & Riggio (2006) further clarified the difference between the two concepts stating: Transformational leadership is in some ways an expansion of transactional leadership based on the leader discussing with others what is required and specifying the conditions and rewards these others will receive if they fulfil those requirements.

Transformational leadership involves inspiring others to commit to a shared vision and goals for an organization or unit, challenging them to be innovative problem solvers, and developing followers' leadership capacity via coaching, mentoring, and provision of both challenge and support. (p. 4).However, this transformational diplomacy is about the nature of political regimes in other countries, and it promotes the United States "working with partners to build and sustain democratic, well-governed, responsible states that will respond to the needs of their people." In other words, this is clearly a "regime change" policy and the allegations in the diplomatic cables sent to Washington in 2008, which was leaked by Wiki-Leaks, confirm that hypothesis.

These allegations have annoyed the SPYL leadership, prompting the militant SWAPO Party wing to issue a statement denouncing the three opposition parties and condemning the former Ambassador for the alleged connivance to effect "regime change" in the country, as it was reported in the weekly Namibia Today newspaper. Surely, it is within the mandate of diplomats to meet with many divergent stakeholders in the host country but from there to hurl insults at the host country's leaders is far from the spirit of 'cordial' and 'excellent' diplomatic relations.

The unedited cables in not so diplomatic language ridiculing their host with derogatory remarks and 'expressed under the fig leaf of diplomatic confidentiality' also revealed who are those likely to be used as puppets by the West. One just wonders who else apart from politicians is used by these diplomats.

Lest we forget, Raila Odinga Orange Democratic Movement in Kenya and Morgan Tsivangarai's MDC in Zimbabwe entered the political scene in those countries backed by trade unions. With the new discovery of oil and gas in Namibia, will the country also be part of the west's 'transformational diplomacy' or 'regime change' under the pretext of "working with partners to build and sustain democratic, well-governed, responsible states that will respond to the needs of their people" in yet another neo-colonialist wealth grab? And who knows, perhaps the wagging tongues unleashed against Malema are part of the same scheme to silence the vibrate youth leader?

In this regard, I strongly condemn former Ambassador Dennise Mathieu when she hurled insults at our Head of State and questioned the SPYL's support to the Founding President as well as the country's foreign policy with regard its fellow African neighbouring countries. The timing of the revelation or the release of these cables is also questionable as if meant to gauge the public opinion and to launch the next phase of their sinister plans.

Undoubtedly, the writings of the former Ambassador were also meant to sow discord between the leaders in the country and give enough ground for the opposition to counter attack with talks of the Head of State holding "Little influence". Nevertheless, those are just wishful thinking because we all know who the Head of State is and what our foreign policy entails.

These views do not necessarily represent the views of my employer nor am I paid to write them.


SWAPO Headquarters Mandume Strt
Windhoek, Katutura