International security increasingly requires greater integration of military, diplomatic and development instruments of US power to achieve desired outcomes in developing nations, speakers said at Stimson Center events held Nov. 15 to honor Nokia Corporation and retired US Navy Admiral James Stavridis.
Nokia and Stavridis – who is now dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University – received Stimson’s annual Pragmatist + Idealist Awards at an evening gala at the Embassy of Finland hosted by Ambassador Ritva Koukku-Ronde. The gala followed a morning session at Stimson on the topic of “Bridging the Divide Between Security and Development.”
“Walls don’t really work very well in creating security,” Stavridis said. “You need to build bridges” to people in other nations with assistance programs.
“Diplomacy, defense, development” are all needed for security, Stavridis said. “You need that hard power tool (of military force) occasionally,” but “you build a very different picture of the United States” with humanitarian assistance.
As an example, Stavridis told the story of a nearsighted boy in Nicaragua whose life was transformed when a US doctor provided him with a pair of glasses – enabling him to see the world clearly. Such actions create life-long positive attitudes about the United States, Stavridis said.
Stimson Board Chairman Lincoln P. Bloomfield, Jr., said that “asking whether security is more important than development, or vice versa, doesn’t make sense. It’s like asking someone riding a bike which of the two wheels is more important. You need both.”
Both Stavridis and New York Times reporter Eric Schmitt, who also participated in the morning discussions, said US policymakers need to think long-term when dealing with what Schmitt called “some very steep challenges” created by anti-American attitudes in some countries.
“This is a White House that is just hopping from crisis to crisis” and doesn’t take the long view, Schmitt said. He said the same is true of Congress, where members “barely can get through their basic business every day.”
Stimson Managing Director Brian Finlay, who heads the Center’s Managing Across Boundaries Initiative, organized the daytime panel on two themes: the nexus between security and development, and the role of the private sector as “an integral component” of efforts to find “the solutions to the grand challenges we face.” He said the Initiative has spent the past 10 years looking for and building innovative public-private partnerships.
Nokia Vice President of Government and Industry Affairs Leo Fitzsimon discussed his company’s work to provide information and communications technologies to promote development, sometimes in partnership with the World Bank and the government of Finland. The company has focused on socially responsible investments that improve education and environmental security, reduce crime, strengthen economies and build better futures for people, he said.
Assistant Administrator for Africa for the US Agency for International Development Earl W. Gast discussed the importance of communications with people in other nations, saying radio was especially useful in developing nations, pointing to Mali and Afghanistan as examples. He said USAID is now looking at ways to use mobile phones to get messages out to people in developing countries.
Stimson President and CEO Ellen Laipson said the day’s events were designed to highlight Managing Across Boundaries work on transnational challenges, and to honor those who embody Stimson’s values of idealism and pragmatism.
“We are proud to shine a light on the innovative work of Nokia and the distinguished career of Jim Stavridis, of whom Vice President Biden, in a written statement, said ‘we need more thinkers, warriors and bridge builders like Jim Stavridis,'” Laipson said.
Top photo caption: Retired Admiral James Stavridis, Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University (left), discusses the challenges of US national security and global economic development with Stimson Chairman Lincoln P. Bloomfield, Jr.