My article "Hitting Bottom at Foggy Bottom" is online at ForeignPolicy.com:
Discussion over the fate of Foggy Bottom usually focuses on the tenure of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the troubles of public diplomacy, and the rise of special envoys on everything from European pipelines to Afghanistan and Pakistan. But Americans would benefit more from a reassessment of the core functionality of the U.S. State Department.
Years of neglect and marginalization, as well as a dearth of long-term vision and strategic planning, have left the 19th-century institution hamstrung with fiefdoms and bureaucratic bottlenecks. The Pentagon now funds and controls a wide range of foreign-policy and diplomatic priorities -- from development to public diplomacy and beyond. The world has changed, with everyone from politicians to talking heads to terrorists directly influencing global audiences. The most pressing issues are stateless: pandemics, recession, terrorism, poverty, proliferation, and conflict. But as report after report, investigation after investigation, has highlighted, the State Department is broken and paralyzed, unable to respond to the new 21st-century paradigm. ...
Read the rest at ForeignPolicy.com. Originally titled "Fixing State" (my title was too staid and the "State of State" was taken), it highlights forgotten or ignored structural and capacity issues at State that contributed to Defense leadership in foreign policy and public diplomacy.
Preparing to Lose the Information War? is a related post that gets into some detail where "Hitting Bottom" is high level.
Comparing the Areas of Responsibility of State and Defense gives a bit more detail on converting State to a regional actor.
USAID challenges reflect greater problems at the State Department looks at the importance of development. (See also The Intended 'Psychological By-Products' of Development on the psychological effects of the Marshall Plan; and from last year, USAID and Public Diplomacy.)
House Appropriations Concerned Pentagon's Role in Strategic Communication and Public Diplomacy examines the theory of House Appropriations and Walter Pincus that "State should be doing this".
Defense Department Plan on Strategic Communication and Science and Technology is a report that noted a need for leadership and coordination in strategic communication programs earlier this year.
American public diplomacy wears combat boots from May 2008 highlighted the leadership in basic engagement the Defense Department was exercising in the absence of an effective alternative.
Developing a National Strategic Communication and Public Diplomacy Strategic also from May 2008 highlights Congressman Adam Smith's (D-Wash) effort to get the country's efforts in global engagement on track.
The Cost of Keeping the Principal off the X from October 2007 is particularly relevant post on State's view of the world. This issue resurfaced with the recent "outing" of the behavior of both the contracted Kabul security and the lack of action by the Department. See also an event I put on October 2006 titled American Mercenaries of Public Diplomacy.