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Foreign Policy Analysis
GAO: Major National Challenges: Diplomatic Interests and Image

GAO: Major National Challenges: Diplomatic Interests and Image

[ Music ] I’m Jacquie Williams-Bridgers, Managing Director of International Affairs and Trade. Global public opinion of the United States has improved over the last year, but U.S. foreign policies remain unpopular in some countries. In addition, countering violent extremist ideology remains a critical challenge in many regions, such as the Middle East. Since 2001, the United States has spent over $10 billion on communication efforts, such as international broadcasting, exchange programs, and social networking-many of which are focused on young audiences. However, we have found that these efforts need to be more effectively coordinated among agencies such as the Departments of State and Defense, USAID, and others. U.S. efforts rely on having skilled officers overseas. In recent years, the United States government has undertaken several initiatives to recruit and train officers. For example, the Department of State has requested more than 1,600 new Foreign Service positions since 2007 and has increased its efforts to hire individuals proficient in critical languages, such as Arabic and Chinese. However, these initiatives have not been planned and implemented in a comprehensive and strategic manner, and GAO has recommended several actions to improve the staffing and skills of U.S. personnel overseas. As reflected in our recommendations, we encourage the Departments of State and Defense, as well as USAID, to use their quadrennial review of diplomacy, defense, and development operations to improve their approach to diplomatic readiness issues. [ Music ]

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