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Home | Why Diplomacy Matters | Protect America

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Diplomacy is one of the best ways to protect the United States and the American people. We use diplomacy with other nations of the world to successfully deal with a number of challenges that cross national boundaries and affect us here in the United States, including:
  • Terrorism; 
  • The threat of weapons of mass destruction; 
  • HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases; 
  • Dangers of illegal drug trafficking and crime; 
  • Humanitarian needs of migrants and refugees; and 
  • Environmental degradation. 

Americans at home and abroad face threats to their physical and economic well-being. The State Department protects our nation, its people, and our prosperity by helping to: 


  • Prevent terrorist attacks and strengthen international alliances to defeat global terrorism; 
  • Ensure America's homeland security by promoting policies and practices to keep travel, trade, and important infrastructure safe; 
  • Provide guidelines to manage the entry of visitors to the U.S.; 
  • Promote stability in all regions of the world; 
  • Prevent enemies from threatening the U.S. or our allies with weapons of mass destruction; 
  • Reduce the impact of international crime and illegal drugs on Americans; and 
  • Protect and assist American citizens who travel, conduct business, and live abroad. 


Following are just a few of the many ways the State Department uses diplomacy to protect America: 


Fighting Terrorism 

After the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, the U.S. learned firsthand the serious threat it faces from terrorists and from countries supporting them. Terrorists who performed these attacks had no respect for human life or national borders. Terrorists threaten not only Americans, but all people who believe in freedom and democracy. They are the enemy of all civilized nations, and they will be defeated only through the united action of nations throughout the world. 


To provide leadership in the fight against terrorism, the State Department works with other U.S. agencies and foreign governments to: 


  • Identify terrorist organizations and countries that support terrorists; 
  • Investigate the activities of terrorist organizations; 
  • Shut down terrorist financial networks; and 
  • Bring terrorists to justice. 


The State Department's annual report on terrorism explains what the United States and its allies are doing to contain the dangers and sponsors of worldwide terrorism. Also see  http://www.state.gov/j/ct/index.htm.


Homeland Security 

Security for Americans begins at home but extends beyond our borders. In pursuit of homeland security, the State Department conducts visa operations and leads U.S. diplomatic efforts to gain international cooperation on measures to deter threats to travel, communications, and other critical infrastructure networks--information systems, transportation, and energy--and to secure our borders. 


Visas: Welcoming Foreign Citizens 

Immigrants and visitors have contributed greatly to our country, and we welcome them to continue their important cultural contributions. Immigrants and visitors who want to enter the U.S. must apply for a visa from the State Department. The State Department carefully reviews more than 7 million visa applications per year. The visa regulations help ensure that no visas are approved for foreign citizens who might harm our country, thereby keeping us safe while continuing to welcome citizens from around the globe. Learn more on travel.state.gov/.


Regional Stability 

The State Department uses diplomacy in all regions of the world to keep local conflicts from becoming wider wars that may harm U.S. interests. The State Department joins with other countries in international organizations to promote stability and economic prosperity. Following are some of the regional issues the State Department manages: 


Middle East - Promote and support the development of democracy in Iraq. Continue to work with Israel, Egypt, other Middle Eastern countries, and the Palestinians to find a way for them to live peacefully together. Also see www.state.gov/p/nea.


Western Hemisphere - Join with other countries to confront terrorism and illegal drug trafficking, while promoting institutions that support democracy and freedom. Also see www.state.gov/p/wha.


Africa - Help fragile nations confront poverty, disease, and war that afflict the continent. Also see www.state.gov/p/af.

East Asia and the Pacific - Participate in organizations such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum that deal with a wide range of economic issues facing its member nations. Also see www.state.gov/p/eap.  


South and Central Asia - Support developing democracy in Afghanistan. Work with India and Pakistan and the international community to deal with problems between these countries, including the status of Kashmir and nuclear arms. Also see  http://www.state.gov/p/sca.


Europe and Eurasia - Promote the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and its expansion as keys to international cooperation and security. Also see www.state.gov/p/eur.


Weapons of Mass Destruction 

Weapons of mass destruction--such as nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons--pose a serious danger to the United States and the world. We must be concerned about the possibility that terrorists may acquire these weapons for use against innocent people. The State Department works to ensure that more countries do not obtain these weapons and to verify that international agreements restricting such weapons are being honored. Also see http://www.state.gov/t/isn/


International Crime and Illegal Drugs 

International crime and illegal drug trafficking affect Americans and people from every country. The State Department helps other countries establish and implement anti-crime and anti-drug laws, share costs and political burdens, and strengthen courts and government institutions so that it is easier to bring criminals to justice. 


Controlling the trafficking in illegal drugs has required increased international cooperation from all countries. The State Department has provided technical assistance and training programs for other governments. We have increased our support for law enforcement and assistance for developing countries--such as Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia--to stop production of illegal drugs and their shipment to the United States and other countries. The State Department's annual report on international narcotics control (see www.state.gov/j/inl) outlines the strategy for dealing with this issue. 


Trafficking in persons is a modern-day form of slavery. Criminals force or deceive their victims into labor or sexual exploitation and often move them across borders into other countries. This crime of trafficking human beings has been increasing at an alarmingly fast rate.


Annually, approximately 800,000-900,000 people, mostly women and children, are trafficked worldwide, including 20,000 persons into the United States. The State Department's annual report on trafficking in persons (see www.state.gov/j/tip) is an important diplomatic tool for ending this modern day slavery. 


Helping Americans 

The State Department helps U.S. citizens travel, conduct business, and live abroad safely by:


  • Providing information, including pamphlets and Travel Warnings, on traveling and living abroad; 
  • Issuing passports to U.S. citizens; 
  • Helping U.S. citizens obtain emergency funds; 
  • Checking on the welfare and whereabouts of U.S. citizens abroad; 
  • Helping families with arrangements if a U.S. citizen dies overseas; 
  • Assisting U.S. travelers who become ill or are arrested while overseas; 
  • Assisting in international child custody disputes and adoptions; and 
  • Protecting and assisting U.S. citizens living or traveling abroad during crises. 

Also see www.travel.state.gov


Economic Prosperity and Security 

The State Department supports U.S. businesses at home and abroad. Officers at U.S. Embassies around the world are experts on the business practices of foreign countries and what products and markets are important in those countries. They identify opportunities for American firms and help support them in exporting or working within the country. The State Department: 


  • Helps ensure that American workers, businesspeople, and farmers can fairly compete for foreign investment and trade; 
  • Negotiates trade agreements to open foreign markets to increase opportunities to sell American products and services abroad; 
  • Supports U.S. business interests overseas by pointing out potential problems and helping make sure that American companies can sell products or services within a foreign country;
  • Works with international and U.S. organizations to represent business interests;
  • Promotes and licenses exports that contribute tens of billions of dollars to the U.S. economy; 
  • Protects American intellectual property rights, such as copyrights and patents; and 
  • Helps other countries develop strong, freemarket economies that provide investment and export opportunities. 

Also see www.state.gov/e/eb

Protect America photo

More Resources

Terrorism Booklet [Print ]

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