The Fragility Study Group is an independent, non-partisan, effort of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Center for a New American Security and the United States Institute of Peace. The chair report of the study group, U.S. Leadership and the Challenge of State Fragility, was released on September 12. This brief is part of a series authored by scholars from the three institutions that build on the chair report to discuss the implications of fragility on existing U.S. tools, strategic interests and challenges. 

Development, diplomacy, and defense advance U.S. interests in a world of rapid and complex transitions. Since 2010, considerable progress has been made to increase the capacity and co-ordination of these “three D’s” through integrated strategic planning and the rebuilding of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) policy and planning functions. Nevertheless, embassies are often challenged to translate broad strategic goals into specific actions that combine the capabilities of development, diplomacy, and defense, particularly in complex transition environments. Integrating these tools does not suggest subordinating one to the other. Each is a distinct tool that brings a comparative advantage to U.S. foreign policy.  

As practitioners in Mission Rangoon during a highly consequential and sensitive moment in the history of Burma (Myanmar) between 2012 and 2016, we offer lessons learned from our experience in seeking to integrate our operations to advance U.S. goals of reform. In that effort, only two of the D’s – diplomacy and development – were considered appropriate tools given the political and social moment in which we operated during those four years. As a result, what follows will spotlight our efforts to integrate those two D’s in particular, with a comment at the end about the unique context of U.S. defense engagement in Burma. This paper is written in support of the U.S. Institute of Peace’s Fragility Study Group project.

Related Publications

South Sudan’s Pitfalls of Power Sharing

South Sudan’s Pitfalls of Power Sharing

Friday, February 16, 2018

By: USIP Staff; Susan Stigant; Aly Verjee

This week, a new proposal for a power sharing government was tabled at the ongoing Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) High Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) peace talks for South Sudan. An earlier, 2015 peace deal also contained a formula for power sharing; that arrangement failed and the civil war re-ignited a year later. Power sharing arrangements are appropriate if certain conditions are met, but not enough has been done to ensure the latest proposal will overcome the obstacles present in South Sudan, according to Susan Stigant, USIP’s director for Africa programs and Aly Verjee, a visiting expert at USIP and a former senior advisor to the IGAD mediation, who comment on the proposal and suggest how it could be improved.

Democracy & Governance; Fragility and Resilience; Global Policy

Understanding China’s Response to the Rakhine Crisis

Understanding China’s Response to the Rakhine Crisis

Thursday, February 8, 2018

By: Adrienne Joy

Following attacks on police posts by an armed Rohingya militia in August 2017, reprisals by the Burmese government have precipitated a humanitarian crisis. More than six hundred thousand Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh, where they face an uncertain future. Publicly stating that the root cause of conflict in Rakhine is...

Global Policy

Reframing the Crisis in Myanmar’s Rakhine State

Reframing the Crisis in Myanmar’s Rakhine State

Monday, January 22, 2018

By: Gabrielle Aron

In the aftermath of attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army and subsequent military clearance operations, two competing narratives have emerged. One frames the attacks as a critical threat to national security and the majority cultural-religious status quo. The second focuses on the human cost...

Global Policy; Human Rights

View All Publications