The recent crisis in Kenya, a key ally of the United States, almost caused the disintegration of the country. Tension remains and there’s a real possibility of the country joining the ranks of failed states.
Failed states are ideal breeding grounds for terrorists and drug traffickers, and the US, has been mulling over how to deal with such situations. “Today, it is clear that managing the problems of state failure and ungoverned spaces will be a feature of U.S. foreign policy for the foreseeable future: whether we like it or not,” admits Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.
“Supporting leaders and citizens who seek to rebuild after conflict, to strengthen their state institutions, or at times even to build new institutions of governance … is a mission that requires the integration of security, diplomacy, and development.” Rice was speaking during the launch of the Civilian Response Corps in Washington D.C.
The Civilian Response Corps (CRC) will consist of federal employees that are trained and equipped to deploy rapidly to countries in crisis or emerging from conflict. Their work will be to provide reconstruction and stabilization assistance. CRC will be composed of diplomats, development specialists, public health officials, law enforcement and corrections officers, engineers, economists, lawyers, public administrators, agronomists and other professionals.
The US experience in Iraq demonstrated that the military alone cannot reconstruct a state. CRC is designed to offer the full range of civilian skills needed to help fragile states restore stability and the rule of law, and achieve economic recovery and sustainable growth as quickly as possible.
According to Rice, the US Congress has already appropriated funding in the 2008 Supplemental budget that will enable the State Department to begin setting up the Civilian Response Corps.
The Civilian Response Corps is a partnership of the Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Justice, and Treasury.
“Ultimately, our goal is to enable countries in crisis to transition as quickly as possible to governing themselves, sustaining themselves, and securing themselves without U.S. or international assistance,” explained Dr. Rice.