This is a transcript of an interview Matthew Alan Hill conducted with Xenia Dormandy for the Women and US Foreign Policy Interview Project at The Institute for the Study of the Americas, University of London.
Interviewee: Xenia Dormandy (XD)
Employment positions referred to in interview: Executive Director of PeaceNexus Foundation (2009-2011), Director for South Asia at the USG’s National Security Council (NSC) (2004-2005), Foreign Affairs Specialist in the Bureau of South Asia at the Department of State (2001-2004)
Interviewer: Matthew Alan Hill (MH)
Date: November 1, 2011
Location: London, UK
Website profile: http://www.chathamhouse.org/about-us/directory/70771
General questions about your career [00:16 – 15:18]
Grandfather, Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln, Bill Clinton, Hilary Clinton are all inspirations; integrity of a person is important; importance of conflict and conflict resolution in developing an interest in international affairs; international family helped to define an interest in international affairs; travelling around Europe and the US as a child; international travel to meet family more about cultural than political experiences; moving to US and working for the State Department; no experience of gender discrimination; invited to events because she was a woman; impact on being a woman on career; “affirmative action, in the grey area”; luck and working hard are the keys to success.
Non-gender specific issues and events you were involved in during your FP-related career [15:19 – 38:56]
Pakistan’s intelligence agency; President Musharraf’s support for the US; Pakistan’s support for Taliban based on security threat from India; Pakistan relies on working with ‘militants’ in order to balance its military disadvantage compared to India; Pakistan strategic depth in Afghanistan will not be relinquished by US request; outline of developments in Afghanistan from 2001-2008 regarding US and Pakistani engagement; role of democratisation in US counterterrorism strategy; Secretary Rice, security, stability and democracy; similarities in national interests and values between the US and India.
Experiences and knowledge of US engagement with gender issues in foreign policy [38:57 – 51:47]
Did not work on gender issues for the State Department; role of women in peacebuilding; working at PeaceNexus; gender important but one of many issues that determine US relations with other countries; gender equality not a national interest but a value that has benefits to all societies; promoting gender equality is not a “top five” national interest; US responses to Taliban treatment of women pre-2001.
Views on recent US foreign policy related issues [51:48 – 01:03.51]
Importance of designing foreign-related programmes with the culture in mind; problems of large bureaucracies in changing programmes to fit local conditions; Change of US strategy post-Arab Spring due to new actors to work with in the countries; US vital national interests do not change but the environment in which they are attained does, and thus so does US strategy to achieve them; Obama administration supporting goals of others when they are aligned with US interests and not dictating how its interests should be fulfilled; discusses whether Obama’s policy in the Middle East and North Africa is due to circumstances or individual belief.