Women and US foreign policy |

Joanna Spear

Joanna Spear



This is a transcript of an interview Matthew Alan Hill conducted with Joanna Spear for the Women and US Foreign Policy Interview Project at The Institute for the Study of the Americas, University of London.

Interviewee: Joanna Spear (JS)

Employment positions referred to in interview: Associate Professor of International Affairs, George Washington University

Interviewer: Matthew Alan Hill (MH)

Date: August 17, 2011

Location: Washington, D.C., USA

Website profile: http://elliott.gwu.edu/faculty/spear.cfm


General questions about your career [00:16 12:54]

Interest in international relations and foreign policy at a polytechnic university; being the only woman in the BA programme; doctoral programme in Carter and Reagan administrations’ arms sales policies and practices; the role of bureaucracy in policy implementation; interviewing US government officials; dysfunction of the interagency process in US government; impact of being a young female in a traditionally male-dominated subject; gender imbalances in government departments relating to security; being tested by people regarding knowledge of security issues.  

Non-gender specific issues and events you were involved in during your FP-related career [12:55 32:45]

Redefining policy goals through the rhetoric of conflict prevention; Obama administration rhetoric of conflict prevention but not reality; moving away from democracy promotion under the Bush administration; Obama administration learning from previous US experiences in the world; difficulties of the DC world to understand other perspectives to international events; Bush administration Muslim PR campaign backfires; DC international experts lack of experience in target countries; Condoleezza Rice and Transformational Diplomacy.

Experiences and knowledge of US engagement with gender issues in foreign policy [32:46 – 59:31]

Importance of dealing with fighters over gender issues in disarmament demobilisation and reintegration programmes; US military doing development work through Commander’s Emergency Response Programme; Marine Female Engagement Teams; ‘macho’ nature of women in US Marines; complicated role of development work in US military thinking and activities; supporting more female military officials in participating in the National Security Studies programme; military participants testing civilians in the National Security Studies programme; difficulties of female US government officials implementing programmes in countries where gender inequality is high; subtle introduction of women’s rights in US foreign policy; role of Secretary Clinton in elevating the importance of gender issues in DC think tanks; gender as a second order national interest.

Views on recent US foreign policy related issues [59:32 1:10:20]

Arab Spring took Obama administration by surprise; evolution of US policy towards Libya; US engagement in Syria; State Department lack of focus on Maghreb; importance of local engagement and decision-making in development programmes of recipient society.

Joanna_Spear_17.08.2011_audio.mp3 (to download right-click and ‘Save link as…’)