Foreign service officers are on the front line of national security, according
to a former State Department official.
“Diplomacy must carry, in my view, a particularly heavy load in building
peaceful constructive relationships between nations,” said Norman Neureiter,
the former science and technology adviser to the secretary of state.
“Diplomacy will, by necessity, be a primary instrument for security in
this post Cold War Era,” he told an Office of Naval Research conference.
“Remember that phrase the ‘New World Order?’ We do not have
a New World Order, we have a new world of inordinate disorder.”
The list of people who recently have died in the diplomatic service is growing,
he said. Many officers take immense chances living in dangerous environments,
such as Pakistan, for example, “but they are out there doing it,”
Neureiter said. “Unless you try to understand what is going on in these
countries, unless you can report back, and unless you can work on building relationships
with the people who support you out there, it would be very tough to carry on.”
Science and technology—the development or the lack thereof—are
major considerations in foreign policy, said Neureiter.
“It’s a world today that is totally driven by technology,”
he said. “That is a major challenge for all of us when…terrorism
proliferates to a degree that will be unbelievable.”
The proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), cyber security and
global networks, and biotechnologies are “huge issues, which are going
to affect every one of you in your international relationships,” he told
Added to the list are export controls, the dilemma of what to do with Iraqi
weapons scientists, or how to keep Russian scientists occupied constructively.
Infectious disease, such as the rapid spread of SARS or AIDS, also becomes a
stringent diplomatic issue, he said.
A four-year old study by the National Academy of Science pointed out that out
of 16 stated foreign policy goals, 13 of them involved significant consideration
of science, technology and health, according to Neureiter. Nevertheless, the
State Department has not been adequately equipped, for a while, to infuse these
considerations into the foreign policy initiatives.
Things are starting to change now, however. Partnerships with industry are
starting to grow, The State Department has implemented a science exchange program
with other organizations, and is beginning to create science and technology
advisers at embassies around the world.