This is a transcript of an interview Matthew Alan Hill conducted with a Senior State Department Official for the Women and US Foreign Policy Interview Project at The Institute for the Study of the Americas, University of London.
Interviewee: Anonymous Interviewee 3 – AI3
Employment positions referred to in interview: Senior State Department Official; State Department Coordinator for the OSCE; Deputy Assistant Secretary for Strategic Communications and Public Diplomacy in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs; Director at MEPI; Minister Councillor for Provincial Affairs at the US Embassy in Baghdad.
Interviewer: Matthew Alan Hill (MH)
Date: August 17, 2011
Location: Washington, D.C., USA
General questions about your career [00:03 – 22:27]
Inspiration of former Professor and Director General of the Foreign Service; influence of former DG in interviewee’s management style; discusses philosophy to management; Iranian hostage crisis and personal experience of Iranians in Austria developed an interest in international relations; influence of Professor at Kentucky in developing further interest in international relations; internship at the Pentagon on US NATO policy; importance of knowledge of other cultures (particularly Middle East and Europe), and management of people and policies have led to career progression; details experience working for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe; details experience in the art of negotiation in developing successful projects; working in Iraq with the US military in running Provincial Reconstruction Teams; reactions by Iraqis to being a woman and a US official; role of lawsuit against the Foreign Service in the 1970s in improving opportunities for women to do policy work.
Non-gender specific issues and events you were involved in during your FP-related career [22:28 – 47:32]
Election observation in former Soviet bloc states by the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutes and Human Rights; election observers in US elections after Florida hanging chads in 2000; role at the State Department in analysing the Arab Spring; US supporting aspirations of the people in the Arab Spring; importance of empowering women in Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) projects; restrictions on what women’s projects can be focussed on in closed societies; empowering Yemeni and Saudi women through supporting their establishment of projects supporting street children; impact of MEPI projects in developing the Arab Spring; role of US-sponsored gender programmes in Iraq; impact of insecurity in Iraq stymied success of projects; determinants of success of a US-sponsored project in Iraq.
Experiences and knowledge of US engagement with gender issues in foreign policy [47:33 – 55:53]
Supporting women’s rights around non-threatening issues to a regime such as breast cancer in Saudi Arabia; gender equality is not a national interest it is a value and “you wouldn’t send US troops in for a gender issue”; gender-based programming by Foreign Service officials.
Views on recent US foreign policy related issues [55:54 – 1:03:45]
Obama’s long-term foreign policy strategy of dealing with the aspirations of people in the MENA region has not changed since 2009; impact of Iraq democratisation in US understanding that the local people need to want change; importance of indigenous capacity to sustain a US-sponsored project; importance of the right people in the right place for successful projects.
Audio not supplied in order to fulfil anonymity request of interviewee