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AAAS Diplomacy Expert: S&T Cooperation Vital to Foreign Policy, Solving Global Crises
Norman P. Neureiter
Norman P. Neureiter, senior advisor to the AAAS Center for Science Diplomacy, called on Capitol Hill lawmakers to increase U.S. international scientific cooperation as a key element of a constructive foreign policy.
Testifying in front of the House Subcommittee on Research and Science Education, Neureiter, who also serves as the director of the AAAS Center for Science, Technology, and Security Policy, said that using science as a diplomatic tool "is an effective instrument of non-political, soft-power engagement."
Neureiter added that the most pressing global challenges—climate change, energy, health, food, and clean water—demand scientific cooperation due to the scope and labor intensity of the problems.
"[Science] cooperation is a double winner," said Neureiter, "as it solves problems and builds relationships."
Neureiter testified 24 March alongside Jon C. Strauss, chairman of the National Science Board Task Force on International Science, and Anthony "Bud" Rock, vice president for global engagement at Arizona State University.
Neureiter, educated as a chemist, is a veteran of science diplomacy. In the early 1960s he entered the U.S. Foreign Service and soon was named the first U.S. science attaché based in Eastern Europe. A few years later, serving in President Richard Nixon's Office of Science and Technology, he helped craft scientific elements of historic agreements with the Soviet Union and China.
After more than 20 years with Texas Instruments, he was named in 2000 to the post of science advisor to U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; he continued in that post under Secretary of State Colin Powell. He left State after his three-year term expired in September 2003, and joined AAAS in 2004. He recently served on a delegation to Syria that explored possible cooperation in science, health, and higher education, and has traveled several times to Iran and hosted Iranian visitors to the United States.
This week, during his opening statement to House members, Neureiter called on lawmakers to re-establish the U.S. Committee on International Science Engineering and Technology (CISET), a federal advisory panel that formerly reviewed the wide range of international scientific programs carried by the U.S. government agencies and sought opportunities for additional scientific engagement. CISET was disbanded in 2001 by President George W. Bush.
The committee's charter sought to strengthen the domestic scientific enterprise and promote U.S. economic competitiveness while also promoting democracy, maintaining peace, and fostering global economic growth.
Although Neureiter said reconstituting the committee could likely be done solely by the President's Office of Science and Technology Policy, he added that "establishing [the committee] through legislation as the government's focal point for international science and technology will send a powerful message... about congressional interest in the subject."
Neureiter's proposal includes creating a five-year pilot project in which CISET—comprised of representatives from across the federal government—would designate a multi-million dollar fund to agencies and organizations to finance international scientific cooperation.
For example, CISET could designate a certain amount for the National Science Foundation to be distributed to U.S. universities engaging in international climate change research collaboration with nations identified with State Department guidance.
Neureiter cautioned that the money should come from the State Department budget, not aid organizations like U.S. Agency for International Development, as the project is promoting cooperation, not assistance.
"Using science and technology, we will be solving problems and building relationships," said Neureiter. "These are goals that will be hailed both at home and abroad."
1 April 2009