Sunday, May 31, 2009

Diplopundit’s Blog Index for May 2009

If you can't find the materials you're looking for in the "tag cloud" in the right-most column here, you may want to scroll through my monthly post index. * * *

Video of the Week: Presidents and Foreign Policy

Officially In: John V. Roos to Tokyo

Officially In: Timothy J. Roemer to New Delhi

Officially In: Miguel H. Díaz to the Holy See

Officially In: Louis B. Susman to London

Officially In: Charles Rivkin to Paris

Officially In: Laurie Fulton to Copenhagen

Officially In: Vilma S. Martinez to Buenos Aires

Officially In: Michael A. Battle, Sr. to the Africa...

Officially In: Robert S. Connan to Reykjavik

Officially In: Thomas Shannon to Brasilia

Officially In: Ambassador Chris Dell to Pristina

Officially In: Ambassador Pat Butenis to Colombo

Staffing Shortages/Lack of Mid-Level Officers Hinder...

White House Rolls Out First Dozen Ambassadors

It’s the Transfer Season, You’re Jobless Once More...

US Embassy Baghdad Employees Killed by IED

Richard Holbrooke with POTUS

Quickie: Top 100 Government Contractors

State Dept Nominations: End of May Round-Up

US Embassy Jakarta's Underwater Beauty Contest

Rodearmel v. Clinton, et al: DOJ Files Motion to Dismiss...

If You Can’t Walk Your Own Dog …Get a Fish

Would you give $5.25 this Memorial Day?

Quote: Maybe diplomats are more like mice than cat...

Video of the Week: Eric Schmidt Talks to the Facebook...

Confirmed: McHale, Crowley, Benjamin & Blake

Officially In: Amb Nancy Powell to be Director Gen...

4th of July Celebration - in May?

This is how we've always done it...

Insider Quote: It's good to keep busy

H.R. 2410 Clears HFAC, Sec. 333 Stricken from Bill...

The Return of Publicly Accessible American Centers...

SFRC Clears Judith McHale and Robert Blake

Civilian Surge for Afghanistan, Once More...

SFRC Clears Feltman, Crowley & Benjamin

AFSA Constructive Dissent Awards

Amb. Eikenberry’s Kunar Province Photos

H.R. 2410: Foreign Relations Authorization Act...

Jack Lew on the FY10 State Budget

Amb Eikenberry Visits Kunar Prov: Pinhead Photos...

Quickie: Kabul Green Zone Coming Up?

Wolfram|Alpha: The Web’s Brainy Engine

Insider Quote: Hard Places vs. Family

Officially In: Utah Gov Jon Huntsman to Beijing

Welcome to a brand new member of the FS family!

Video of the Week: Leading Organizational Change

Confirmed: EUR’s Philip Gordon

Insider Quote: Song for a Trailing Spouse

Tough Dance at the Podium

Ambassador Eikenberry's First Press Con

Insider Quote: Diplomats' War Zone Training

Grading Condi: Is this a C+ or a D ?

Tricky Job of Protocol Chief Gets Trickier?

AFSA Elections: Town Hall Video, May 8, 2009

Officially In: Capricia Marshall to Protocol (S/CP...

Wanted: AFSA 2.0

SFRC Hearings: Jeffrey Feltman, Robert Blake

Officially In: Arturo Valenzuela to the WHA...

Officially In: María Otero to "G", Philip L. Verveer

AFSA Election Countdown is On – Vote!

SFRC Hearings: Crowley, McHale, Benjamin & Jenkins...

What’s next - a diplomatic surge for Pakistan?

Ambassador Eikenberry Arrives in Kabul

Insider Quote: On Leaving the Foreign Service

Quickie: Senior Officers and Intellectual Leadership...

Office of the Spokesman: Ian Kelly Signs On

In the Loop Name the Flu Contest

Ambassador Kenney: Under the Sea and More

State Dept & International Affairs - FY 2010 Budget...

Video of the Week: Adam Savage on Quests and ...

Insider Quote: An Accepted Part of Culture

Quote: I'm actually a bad man who happens to have ...

Taxes & EERs: April Pain and Suffering About Over?...

Retired Military Analysts: DOD’s IG Withdraws Report...

Confirmed: Ivo Daalder, Johnnie Carson and Luis de Baca...

US Passport Issuance: Closing the Door to Fraud?

Hi-Def Smackdown: Foreign Policy Film Festival

Diplomatic Security’s Gregory Starr Heads to the UN...

Officially In: Ellen Tauscher to “T,” Andrew Shapiro...

Quick Update on State Department Nominations - May...

Quote: Who conducted diplomacy during the war?

Condi Rice: In Her Own Words

No Longer Grandma's Foreign Service

And You Think Twitter is New?

Senate Judiciary Hearing on US Passport Issuance

Goodbye/Hello: General/Ambassador Karl Eikenberry

Cute Alpacas for Visas and Some Corruption News

Brief as Photos: Still Gunning for 52

Video of the Week: Keynote and AFSA Memorial Plaque...

Tomas Perez: Diplomatic Courier Honored for Heroism...

Released: Country Reports on Terrorism 2008

Criminals Exploiting Swine Flu Outbreak?

May 1: Honoring Foreign Service Personnel

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Video of the Week: Presidents and Foreign Policy

A panel discussion was held on the late Peter Rodman's book, Presidential Command: Power, Leadership, and the Making of Foreign Policy from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush. Among the topics they addressed were presidential leadership styles, the role of the Cabinet and advisers, and reaction to events that have shaped U.S. foreign policy.

This is a program from the Brookings Institution with Carlos Pascual, Vice President and Director Brookings Institution Foreign Policy Studies and guests, Lawrence Eagleburger, 62nd Secretary of State, Department of State and Eric Edelman, Undersecretary Department of Defense Policy. The video is from cspan.org (length: 01:40:54). About 13 minutes into the video, watch Secretary Eagleburger talk about those "benighted" people who did not get us into Iraq during the Kuwait invasion, but managed to get us there years later.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Officially In: John V. Roos to Tokyo

Residence of US Ambassador to Tokyo Source: State Department From the Secretary of State's Register of Culturally Significant Property
On May 27, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate John V. Roos to be Ambassador to Japan. Official bio below:

Mr. Roos serves as Chief Executive Officer at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, where he has overseen and managed the global, technology-focused law firm since 2005. Mr. Roos has been a partner at the firm since 1988 and also served in a number of other senior leadership roles. Throughout his tenure, Mr. Roos helped lead the firm during the various waves of innovation in Silicon Valley, from the growth of software and communications to the Internet Age, the emergence of biotechnology to the present focus on clean technology and renewable energy. He has been a leader in cultivating the firm's diversity initiatives, which recently resulted in its number one ranking in the country. Mr. Roos has been responsible for building consensus across all geographies and practice disciplines to develop, communicate, and execute on strategic priorities and growth initiatives for the business. Mr. Roos is a Member of the Dean's Advisory Council at Stanford Law School and at the Stanford School of Education. He holds a Bachelor's degree from Stanford University and a J.D. from Stanford Law School.

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OpenSecrets.org on John V. Roos: “This lawyer has bundled at least $500,000 to Obama's presidential campaign. He and his wife have also contributed at least $77,500 to Democrats since the 1992 election cycle, including $6,900 to Obama. Roos is the CEO of the technology-oriented law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and has been nominated to be ambassador to Japan.”

Four of the last five ambassadors who served in Japan were political appointees, including Walter Mondale and Howard Baker, Jr. The last career diplomat to serve as US Ambassador to Tokyo was Michael Armacost (May 1989-July 1993). If confirmed, Mr. Roos will succeed Thomas Schieffer (one of only three non-career appointees to serve in both the first and second terms of President George W. Bush's Administration as an Ambassador). Mr. Roos will reside at the official residence of the US Ambassador in Japan, at one time called “Hoover’s Folly” -- the chancery and the residence with imported Georgia walnut wall panels and Vermont marble flooring, were completed during The Depression at a cost of $1.25 million dollars. During World War II the compound was under the protection of the Swiss government. And was apparently also called “The Big House,” from 1945 to 1951 during General Douglas MacArthur’s time.

Related Post: White House Rolls Out First Dozen Ambassadors

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Officially In: Timothy J. Roemer to New Delhi

US Embassy New Delhi Chancery Source: State Department From the Secretary of State's Register of Culturally Significant Property

On May 27, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Timothy J. Roemer, to be Ambassador to India. Official bio below: Mr. Roemer is President of the Center for National Policy (CNP) in Washington, D.C. Before joining CNP, he represented the 3rd District of Indiana for six terms as a U.S. Congressman, from 1991 to 2003. Congressman Roemer served as a member of the 9/11 Commission. He was appointed to the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction, Proliferation and Terrorism, a bi-partisan commission created by Congress to examine how the U.S. can best address this threat to the country’s national security. In addition, he serves on the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Presidential Task Force on Combating the Ideology of Radical Extremism, and the National Parks Second Century Commission. As a Distinguished Scholar at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Congressman Roemer works with Members of Congress and staff to improve public policy outcomes by teaching on the legislative branch and policy analysis. Congressman Roemer holds a B.A. from the University of California, San Diego and a M.A. and PhD. from the University of Notre Dame.

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OpenSecrets.org on Timothy J. Roemer: “The former six-term Democratic congressman from Indiana was a member of the 9/11 Commission and provided Obama with a hearty endorsement during the contentious primary race with Hillary Clinton. He currently heads the Center for National Policy, a DC-based public policy organization, and has been nominated to be the ambassador to India. He has not made any personal campaign contributions to federal candidates, but he does appear in our Revolving Door database.”

The last three US ambassadors to India were all political appointees. Previous to that, we had three career diplomats who served consecutively there: Frank Wisner, Thomas R. Pickering and William Clark, Jr. If confirmed, Mr. Roemer will succeed David C. Mulford, appointed during George W. Bush’s second term.

Related Post: White House Rolls Out First Dozen Ambassadors

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Officially In: Miguel H. Díaz to the Holy See

US Embassy to the Holy See Source: US Embassy website

On May 27, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Miguel H. Díaz, to be Ambassador to the Holy See. Official bio below: Dr. Miguel Díaz is a Professor of Theology at St. John's University and the College of Saint Benedict in Minnesota. He is the co-editor of the book "From the Heart of Our People: Explorations in Catholic Systematic Theology" and author of "On Being Human: U.S. Hispanic and Rahnerian Perspectives", named "Best Book of the Year" by the Hispanic Theological Initiative at Princeton Theological Seminary. Dr. Díaz taught Religious Studies and Theology at Barry University, the University of Dayton and the University of Notre Dame. From 2001 to 2003, he taught and served as Academic Dean at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, Florida. He is a Board Member of the Catholic Theological Society of America (CTSA) and Past President of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States (ACHTUS). Dr. Díaz holds a B.A. from St. Thomas University and a M.A. and PhD in Theology from the University of Notre Dame.

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OpenSecrets.org on Miguel H. Díaz: “A professor of theology at St. John's University and the College of Saint Benedict in Minnesota, Diaz contributed $1,000 to Obama's campaign last fall, the only disclosure-worthy federal political contribution he has given since 1989. He also served as a Catholic adviser to Obama's presidential campaign. He has been nominated to be the ambassador to the Vatican.”

Actually, since the United States established diplomatic relations with the Holy See on January 1984, the ambassadors appointed to the Vatican have all been political appointees. If confirmed, Dr. Diaz will succeed Mary Ann Glendon, appointed during President George W. Bush’s second term.

Related Post: White House Rolls Out First Dozen Ambassadors

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Officially In: Louis B. Susman to London

Winfield House: Official residence of US Ambassador to London
Source: US Embassy London

On May 27, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Louis B. Susman, to be Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland. Official bio below: Mr. Susman is retired and was Vice Chairman of Citigroup Corporate and Investment Banking, and was a Member of the Citigroup International Advisory Board. Prior to joining Salomon Brothers, Inc. in June 1989, Mr. Susman practiced law in the City of St. Louis for 27 years and was a senior partner at the St. Louis based law firm of Thompson & Mitchell. His practice focused on mergers and acquisitions and general corporate law, and as part of his practice, he was a member of the Board of Directors and Management Committee of the St. Louis Cardinals from 1975 to 1989. In 1988, Mr. Susman was appointed by President Ronald Regan to the U. S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, which provided oversight to the U.S. Information Agency. USIA’s mission was "to understand, inform, and influence foreign publics in promotion of the national interest, and to broaden the dialogue between Americans and U.S. institutions, and their counterparts abroad." He was a Director of the Center for National Policy in Washington, D.C. a nonpartisan organization that examines national public policy issues. Mr. Susman holds an A.B. from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) from Washington University.

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OpenSecrets.org on Louis B. Susman: “This lawyer and investment banker has reportedly earned the nicknames the "vacuum cleaner" and "big bundler" for his prowess as a bundler of campaign cash. He bundled nearly a quarter-million for Obama's presidential campaign and at least $300,000 for his inauguration, according to Public Citizen. This includes $50,000 from his personal funds. Further, he and his wife have contributed at least $581,400 to federal candidates, committees and parties, with 99 percent of that sum going to Democrats, including at least $12,800 to Obama. He has been nominated to be the ambassador to the United Kingdom.”

Only one out of the six ambassadors assigned to London in the last 20 years was a career diplomat (Raymond George Hardenbergh Seitz). If confirmed, Louis B. Susman will succeed Robert Holmes Tuttle, a non-career appointee (who reportedly raised more than $200,000 for President Bush's 2004 re-election campaign and his inauguration ceremony). Mr. Susman will reside at Winfield House - the residence of the Ambassador of the United States of America to the Court of St. James's - occupying twelve and a half acres on the northwest side. Visiting U.S. Presidents regularly stay at the residence. Apparently, President Reagan was a frequent visitor. Read more here.

Related Post: White House Rolls Out First Dozen Ambassadors

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Officially In: Charles Rivkin to Paris

Source: Published State/OIG Report

On May 27, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Charles H. Rivkin, to be Ambassador to France. Official bio below: Mr. Rivkin is a Member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC), a Member of the Pacific Council on International Policy and is active with many other organizations. Mr. Rivkin and his family have presented the "Rivkin Award" at the U.S. State Department since 1968, honoring constructive dissent in the American Foreign Service. Mr. Rivkin joined W!LDBRAIN, an award-winning entertainment company, as President and Chief Executive Officer in 2005. In 1988, Rivkin served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The Jim Henson Company. Previously, Rivkin was a Corporate Finance Analyst at Salomon Brothers Inc. In addition, Rivkin served as an at-large California delegate to the Democratic National Convention for Senator Kerry in 2004 and for President Obama in 2008.

Rivkin holds a B.A. in Political Science and International Relations from Yale University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.

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OpenSecrets.org on Charles H. Rivkin: “The head of the entertainment company W!LDBRAIN, he served as a delegate to the Democratic National Committee in support of Obama last summer. Moreover, he sent at least half-a-million towards Obama's campaign committee as a bundler and another $300,000 toward his inaugural committee. Since the 1994 election cycle, he has personally contributed more than $97,500 to Democrats, including $6,600 to Obama, and now he has been nominated to be the ambassador to France.”

Our ambassadors to Paris in the last 20 years have all been well-connected political appointees. Previous occupants to this position include the late, Pamela Harriman, and also Felix G. Rohatyn and Howard H. Leach. If confirmed, Charles H. Rivkin will succeed Craig Roberts Stapleton (a non-career appointee who is Bush's cousin by marriage and top campaign fund-raiser). He will reside at the official residence of the US Ambassador to France, the Hôtel de Pontalba, a Parisian mansion located at 41 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in the 8th arrondissement of Paris. The residence has been called “one of Paris’ outstanding mansions with its beautiful gardens and magnificently restored historic reception rooms.” See photo from exclusive Paris tour company, eventsofprestige. You can read about the residence here.

Mr. Rivkin does have a long Foreign Service connection. He is the son of the late US Ambassador to Luxembourg, Senegal and Gambia in the 1960s. AFSA's Rivkin Award for "Constructive Dissent" given to a midcareer Foreign Service officers is named after his father, William Rivkin, who died in Dakar in 1967. Charles Rivkin along with his siblings, Julia Wheeler, Laura Ledford, and Robert Rivkin, selects the winner for that annual dissent award.

Related Post: White House Rolls Out First Dozen Ambassadors

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Officially In: Laurie Fulton to Copenhagen

Rydhave Official residence of the United States' Ambassador to Denmark Source: US Embassy Copenhagen

On May 27, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Laurie S. Fulton, to be Ambassador to Denmark. Official bio below: Ms. Fulton is a Partner at Williams & Connolly LLP, where she has a national practice in complex civil litigation, internal investigations and white collar criminal defense. In 2004, she was named one of "Washington’s Top Lawyers" by the Washingtonian magazine. Ms. Fulton is co-chair of the Criminal Litigation Committee of the Section of Litigation of the American Bar Association. She was appointed and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve on the Board of Directors of the United States Institute of Peace from 2004 to 2008, and serves as Co-Chair of USIP’s International Advisory Council. She has been active in non-profits and community organizations such as Bright Beginnings, Inc., Girl Scouts Women’s Advisory Board, Alumni Admissions Interview Program at Georgetown Law School and the South Dakota Farmers Union Foundation. Prior to entering the field of law, Ms. Fulton worked on Capitol Hill and as Executive Director of Peace Links and Access, A Security Information Exchange. Ms. Fulton holds a B.A. from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a J.D., magna cum laude from Georgetown University.

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OpenSecrets.org on Ms. Fulton: “The long-time lawyer who also served on the Board of Directors of the United States Institute of Peace from 2004 to 2008 bundled at least $100,000 for Obama's presidential campaign. Moreover, she has personally contributed at least $48,900 to Democrats since the 1992 election cycle, including $4,850 to Obama.” Of the 33 ambassador who previously served in Copenhagen in the last 100 years, only 7 were Foreign Service Officers, 26 were non-career political appointees. If confirmed, Laurie S. Fulton will succeed James P. Cain (non-career appointee). She will reside at the official residence of the US Ambassador to Denmark, Rydhave.

Related Post: White House Rolls Out First Dozen Ambassadors

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Officially In: Vilma S. Martinez to Buenos Aires

First non-career ambassador to Argentina in 20 years

Palacio Bosch Source: State Department From the Secretary of State's Register of Culturally Significant Property

On May 27, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Vilma S. Martinez, to be Ambassador to Argentina. Official bio below:

Ms. Martinez has been a Partner at Munger, Tolles & Olson since 1982, where she specialized in federal and state court commercial litigation. Currently, her practice focuses on providing advice to companies enhancing their equal employment opportunity policies and building diversity and inclusion initiatives into their business plans. She served as President and General Counsel of the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) for nine years. Previously, she was a litigation associate at Cahill, Gordon & Reindel in New York and also a staff attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Ms. Martinez was Chair and a Member of the University of California Board of Regents. She also chaired the Pacific Council’s Study Group on Mexico and served on the advisory boards of Columbia Law School and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California. Ms. Martinez holds a B.A. from the University of Texas in 1964 and a LL.B. from Columbia Law School.

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According to OpenSecrets.org, Ms. Martinez has contributed more than $9,800 to Democratic candidates and groups since 1989, including at least $1,900 to Obama.

In the last twenty years, the five ambassadors we have to Argentina had been Foreign Service Officers. The last non-career appointee was Theodore E. Gildred who served from Nov 1986 - May 1989 during Ronald Reagan’s second term. Another non-career appointee Hassan Nemazee was appointed in Jan 6, 1999 but the nomination was returned without confirmation on Aug 5, 1999. Career diplomat, William Graham Walker was also nominated on May 12, 1992 but nomination was not acted upon by the Senate.

If confirmed, Ms. Martinez will succeed Earl Anthony Wayne, a career diplomat who has been US Ambassador to Buenos Aires since August 2006. She will reside at the official residence of the US Ambassador in Argentina called Palacio Bosch, designated a historic property by the Buenos Aires municipality and the Argentine Republic. The residence was designed by French architect René Sergent for Ernesto Bosch and his wife Elisa de Alvear. Bosch sold the residence to the United States government in 1929 following recurrent propositions by U.S. Ambassador Robert Wood Bliss. Some of the furniture preserved in the residence was donated by Ambassador Bliss.

Related Post: White House Rolls Out First Dozen Ambassadors

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Officially In: Michael A. Battle, Sr. to the African Union

On May 27, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Michael A. Battle, Sr., for United States Representative to the African Union with the Rank of Ambassador. Official bio below:

Dr. Battle serves as the 7th President of the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) in Atlanta, Georgia. He has been an administrator at several higher education institutions, including Chicago State University, Virginia State University and Hampton University. At Hampton University, he served as pastor to The Hampton University Memorial Church and as Executive Secretary/Treasurer of the Hampton University Ministers’ Conference, the nation’s largest interdenominational conference among African American clergy. Dr. Battle served as a Chaplain in the United States Army Reserve for 20 years, retiring with military honors and a rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 1997. Dr. Battle served as Vice President of the American Committee on Africa from 1994 to 1998. He was an Election Observer for the first South African free election in 1994, and also served as a liaison between the Hampton University Ministers’ Conference and The South African Council of Churches. He served as chair of The Robert W. Woodruff Library of The Atlanta University Center, and as a member of the UNCF Institutional Board of Directors, the Atlanta Rotary Club, 100 Black Men of Atlanta and the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Congressional Forum Steering committee. Reverend Battle holds a B.A. from Trinity College, a Master of Divinity from Duke University and a Doctor of Ministry from Howard University.

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According to OpenSecrets.org, Dr. Battle has no known history of giving federal campaign cash. He has also been an administrator at several higher education institutions, including Chicago State University, Virginia State University and Hampton University. If confirmed, Dr. Battle, Sr. will succeed John Simon (non-career appointee).

Related Post: White House Rolls Out First Dozen Ambassadors

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Officially In: Robert S. Connan to Reykjavik

On May 27, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Robert S. Connan, to be Ambassador to the Republic of Iceland.

Mr. Connan has served as Minister Consular for Commercial Affairs to the US Mission to the European Union since September 2008. Mr. Connan began his international career in the private sector. In 1980, he entered the U.S. Commercial Service. His first assignment was Commercial Officer in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, followed by Johannesburg, South Africa. He was Senior Commercial Officer (SCO) in Algiers and then Stockholm, Sweden. Next, he was assigned as SCO in Kuwait from 1991 to 1992, right after the end of the Gulf War, to rebuild the Commercial Section. In 1992, he was assigned as SCO in Seoul, Korea, where he went on special detail to Beijing China as acting SCO for the first Secretary Commerce trade mission into China. From 1996 to 2000, he served as SCO in Rome, Italy. From 2000 to 2004, he was Minister Counselor for Commercial Affairs for Australia and New Zealand, at the American Consulate General in Sydney. During this period, Mr. Connan also served in Baghdad, Iraq from 2003 to 2004, setting up the Iraqi Business Center as part of the reconstruction process. From 2004 to 2008, he was the Minister Counselor for Commercial Affairs in Paris, France. Mr. Connan holds a Bachelors of Science from Carnegie Mellon University and earned his MBA from University of Pennsylvania.

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If confirmed, Robert Connan will succeed career diplomat Carol Van Voorst in Reykjavik. I should note that five of the last seven ambassadors assigned to Iceland in the last 20 years have been career diplomats. The last non-career appointee to this position was Sigmund A. Rogich of Nevada who served from Jun 4, 1992- Oct 14, 1993. OpenSecrets.org on Robert S. Connan: "Working for the U.S. Commercial Service within the Department of Commerce since 1980, Connan has not made any contributions exceeding $200 to federal candidates, committees or parties. His most recent position has been with the European Union, and he has been nominated to be the ambassador to Iceland."

Related Post: White House Rolls Out First Dozen Ambassadors

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Officially In: Thomas Shannon to Brasilia

On May 27, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Thomas A. Shannon, to be Ambassador to the Federative Republic of Brazil.

Mr. Shannon has served as the Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs since October 2005. A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Mr. Shannon entered the Foreign Service in 1984. Mr. Shannon also served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the National Security Council from 2003 to 2005. From 2002 to 2003, he was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the Department of State, where he was Director of Andean Affairs from 2001 to 2002. He was U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS) from 2000 to 2001. He served as Director for Inter-American Affairs at the National Security Council from 1999 to 2000; as Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela from 1996 to 1999; and as Regional Labor Attaché at the U.S. Consulate General in Johannesburg, South Africa from 1992 to 1996. During his career as a Foreign Service Officer, Mr. Shannon also served as Special Assistant to the Ambassador at the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia, Brazil from 1989 to 1992; as Country Officer for Cameroon, Gabon, and Sao Tome and Principe from 1987 to 1989; and as the Consular/Political Rotational Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City, Guatemala from 1984 to 1986. Mr. Shannon holds a Doctorate and a Master's degree in Politics from Oxford University, and a B.A. in Government and Philosophy from the College of William and Mary.

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Thomas A. Shannon will succeed Clifford M. Sobel (non-career appointee). Previous ambassadors to Brasilia in the last 20 years have been about 50-50 between career diplomats and non-career appointees (with one non-career nomination withdrawn).

OpenSecrets.org on Thomas A. Shannon: "A career member of the U.S. Foreign Service, which he joined in 1984, he is the current Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Ambassador. He has not given any disclosure-worthy federal campaign contributions, and he has been nominated to be the ambassador to Brazil."

Related Post: White House Rolls Out First Dozen Ambassadors

Related Item: President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts, 5-27-2009

Officially In: Ambassador Chris Dell to Pristina

On May 27, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Christopher William Dell, to be Ambassador to the Republic of Kosovo.

Mr. Dell has served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Kabul, Afghanistan since 2007. Mr. Dell, a career United States Foreign Service Officer since 1983, served as United States Ambassador to the Republic of Zimbabwe from August 2004 to July 2007. Previously, Mr. Dell served as Ambassador to Angola from 2001-2004. He was Chief of Mission in Kosovo from 2000-2001 and Deputy Chief of Mission to Bulgaria from 1997-2000. Mr. Dell has also served as Deputy Director of the Office of Regional Political Affairs in the Bureau of European and Canadian Affairs from 1994-1996 and was Special Assistant to the Undersecretary for International Affairs from 1989-1991. Mr. Dell holds a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University and a Master of Arts from Oxford University.

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If confirmed, Ambassador Dell will only be the second US Ambassador to Pristina, succeeding Tina Kaidanow, a career diplomat who was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Kosovo on July 18, 2008. OpenSecrets.org says that "he does not have any known federal campaign contributions."

Related Post: White House Rolls Out First Dozen Ambassadors

Related Item: President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts, 5-27-2009

Officially In: Ambassador Pat Butenis to Colombo

On May 27, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Patricia A. Butenis, to be Ambassador to the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and the Republic of Maldives.

Ms. Butenis has served as the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq since July 2007. Prior to this assignment, she served as Ambassador to Bangladesh, a position for which she was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on February 16, 2006, and sworn in on March 17, 2006. She is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, rank of Minister-Counselor. Ms. Butenis was previously Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan (2004-2006), serving with Ambassador Ryan Crocker. Ms. Butenis joined the Foreign Service in 1980. She has served as Vice Consul in Karachi, Pakistan (1980-1982); Vice Consul/Political Officer in San Salvador, El Salvador (1982-1985); Consul in New Delhi, India (1985-1988); El Salvador Desk Officer (1988-1990); and Consul (American Citizen Services Chief) in Bogotá, Colombia (1990-1993). She attended the National War College (1993-1994) and also served at the Visa Office, Field Liaison, in the Department of State (1994-1997). She then served as Consul General in Warsaw, Poland (1998-2001) and Consul General in Bogotá, Colombia (2001-2004). Ms. Butenis received a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.A. in International Relations from Columbia University.

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If confirmed, Ambassador Butenis will be based in Colombo. She will succeed Ambassador Robert O. Blake, a career diplomat who was recently appointed to head the South Central Asia (SCA) Bureau. OpenSecrets.org says that "Butenis has not given contributions greater than $200 since 1989."

As a side note, all US ambassadors assigned to Sri Lanka in the last 20 years have been career diplomats. The last non-career political appointee assigned to Colombo (and the Maldives) was John Hathaway Reed who served there twice from 1982-85 and from 1976-77.

Related Post: White House Rolls Out First Dozen Ambassadors

Related Item: President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts, 5-27-2009

Staffing Shortages/Lack of Mid-Level Officers Hinder U.S. Outreach Efforts

The GAO has just released its report on U.S. Public Diplomacy: Key Issues for Congressional Oversight on May 27 (GAO-09-679SP). It discusses the background, strategic and operational planning, performance measurement, and coordination of communication efforts on public diplomacy. It also talks about outreach efforts in high threat posts as well as the State Department’s Public Diplomacy workforce. Excerpt below:

State has experienced a shortage of public diplomacy staff since 1999 when the United States Information Agency was merged into the department. In 2003, GAO reported that State experienced a 13 percent vacancy rate in its public diplomacy positions. Similar findings were reported by GAO in May 2006, and data from November 2007 show a vacancy rate of over 13 percent. In our 2003 report, we noted that more than 50 percent of those responding to our survey of public diplomacy officers felt the number of Foreign Service officers available to perform public diplomacy duties was inadequate. Our May 2006 report noted that while several recent reports on public diplomacy had recommended increased spending on U.S. public diplomacy programs, several embassy officials told us that, given current staffing levels, they lacked the capacity to effectively utilize increased funds. In August 2006, we reported that State’s consular and public diplomacy positions were the hardest to fill, with 91 percent of the vacancies in these two tracks at the mid-level. We noted this staffing gap placed pressure on State to appoint junior officers to so-called “stretch positions”—whereby they serve in a position above their pay grade—to fill as many of these vacancies as possible. For example, at the time of our visit in 2006 the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria—which had the third largest mission in Africa with nearly 800 employees—told us the embassy had only three senior officers, and public affairs were handled entirely by first-tour junior officers. Ambassadors at posts GAO visited stated that junior officers, while generally highly qualified when entering the Foreign Service, lack sufficient training to handle some of the high-stress situations they encounter and therefore often end up making mistakes. A January 2008 analysis by State’s Human Resources Bureau indicates that mid-level shortages continue. The report notes the public diplomacy cone has the highest mid-level deficit among the five generalist cones, and public diplomacy officers are being promoted through the mid-levels at higher rates than other cones. State officials expect it will take several years before the mid-level deficit is erased. One senior State official noted accelerated rates of promotion have led to concern that some public diplomacy officers may not have the requisite experience and expertise to perform effectively at their current levels.

The GAO has posted the following oversight questions:

1. What is State’s strategy to obtain a sufficient number of staff to create the desired training float needed to fill vacant public diplomacy positions and meet all required language training needs?

2. What is State’s strategy to address the deficit in mid-level management expertise?

3. Are public affairs officers at posts overburdened with administrative duties? If so, what can be done to alleviate this situation?

Related Item:

(GAO-09-679SP): U.S. Public Diplomacy: Key Issues for Congressional Oversight dated May 27, 2009

White House Rolls Out First Dozen Ambassadors

The White House has rolled out its first dozen ambassadors late last night; the names are not even posted in its website yet as of this writing. The following names via The Cable, were posted at 10:21 pm last night. I have added the names of the prior occupants to these positions. In the last Bush term, eight from this list were non career political appointees, and four were Foreign Service Officers (career diplomats). In this list, nine eight of Obama’s nominees are also non-career political appointees, while the remaining three four are Foreign Service Officers: Shannon, Dell and Butenis, plus Connan who is with the Foreign Commercial Service. Note that Christopher Dell was most recently the #2 official at US Embassy Kabul and Patricia Butenis is currently the #2 in US Embassy Baghdad. Will have some additional posts later.

African Union (AU) (Addis Ababa) U.S. Representative to the African Union with the Rank of Ambassador Michael A. Battle, Sr., vice John Simon, non-career appointee

Ambassador to Argentina (Buenos Aires)
Vilma S. Martinez vice Earl Anthony Wayne, career diplomat

Ambassador to the Federative Republic of Brazil (Brasilia)
Thomas A. Shannon, FSO, vice Clifford M. Sobel, non-career appointee

Ambassador to Denmark
(Copenhagen) Laurie S. Fulton vice James P. Cain, non-career appointee

Ambassador to France
(Paris) Charles H. Rivkin vice Craig Roberts Stapleton, non career appointee

Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (London)
Louis B. Susman vice Robert Holmes Tuttle, non career appointee

Ambassador to the Holy See
(Rome) Miguel H. Díaz vice Mary Ann Glendon, non career appointee

Ambassador to the Republic of Iceland (Reykjavik)
Robert S. Connan, FCS, vice Carol Van Voorst, career diplomat

Ambassador to India (New Delhi)
Timothy J. Roemer vice David C. Mulford, non career appointee

Ambassador to Japan (Tokyo)
John V. Roos vice J. Thomas Schieffer, non career appointee

Ambassador to the Republic of Kosovo (Pristina)
Christopher William Dell, FSO, vice Tina S. Kaidanow, career diplomat

Ambassador to the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and the Republic of Maldives (Colombo)
Patricia A. Butenis, FSO, vice Robert O. Blake, career diplomat

Updated @6:07 pm:
Added notation on Connan as career officer in the US Foreign Commercial Service (USFCS). 




It’s the Transfer Season, You’re Jobless Once More…

June is almost upon us. In many places around the globe, Foreign Service families are conducting pre-pack surveys, packing out their houses and saying goodbye to colleagues and friends. They return homeless to the United States for a few weeks, staying with relations and friends or shuffling themselves, the kids and their pets from one hotel to another until they are ready to move again, to another part of the globe. This is all part of life that is considered normal in the Foreign Service.

I have great sympathy for those FS spouses and partners who were able to find jobs, because the transfer season also means something else – they are jobless once more. One of my best friends is riding this unicycle again. A job at one post, does not translate to another job at the next post. Excelling at a job at one post, does not mean a whole lot in your next post. A new assignment for the employee also means starting from scratch for their spouses/partners. And when they are in the “starting from scratch” stage, they hear that seemingly broken record of advice from the old -- “be flexible,” “reinvent yourself,” keep busy.”

As one male spouse passionately puts it: “I want to shout “Goddamit, I’m not trying to ‘keep busy,’ like poor old grandpa shuffling around his retirement condo, I have a career! I’m good at what I do! I’ve busted my ass to get the experience that I want to put to work!”

Two things made me write this post today. One is an article in State Magazine this month about what the Department is doing to “help” spouses find jobs, and the other is an official report from the OIG about compensation issues for locally employed (LE) staff at U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide. It includes among other things an example of local employees earning less than $1.00 per day, excuse me $3-$4 a day (corrected on May 16).

The article in State Magazine says “Missions help where they can.”

Really?

From what I’ve seen, I don’t know about partners, but at least with spouses – most on the first few years of their tours, appear happy to believe that the Agency is helping where it can to allow them to continue working overseas. You can tell those who have been in the Service for 5-6 years because you can hear them start to question if this were really true. And you can spot those who have reached their 10 year mark, because most have finally come to realize the gravity of their career prospects in the Foreign Service.

The State magazine quotes the director of the State Department’s Family Liaison Office, Leslie Teixeira: “There are not enough employment opportunities within the embassy, and most are clerical and support positions by nature,” she said. What she did not say but the article helpfully points out is that “limited budget means that many positions go to local nationals who are paid on a local scale.”

Let’s put this in context.

The Family Member Employment Statistics - November 2008 currently returns a 404 Error, so I’ll have to use the previously published statistics from 2007.

In the fall of 2007, with 217 overseas posts reporting, the total population of family members overseas was 9,243. Female spouses comprised 80% of the population. MOH and partners are currently not considered EFMs so I presumed that these numbers excluded them. Since no significant hiring also occurred after these stats were published, the 2008 numbers would probably be only slightly changed, accounting for births/adoptions of new dependents and the aging out of dependents. (Children retain the status of eligible family member until they turn 21. Once a child turns 21, he/she can no longer remain on the parent(s) orders and is considered a Member of Household). According to the FLO numbers, out of this total population – exactly 5,775 family members overseas or a whopping 63% are not working; of those working -- 25% do so inside the mission while the remaining 12% works outside the mission.

Extracted from Family Member Employment Statistics 2007 Family Liaison Office, Department of State

In the fall of 2008, U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide employed more than 51,000 Locally Employed (LE) staff in about 170 overseas missions. The total numbers of positions and staff for the Department and other Federal agencies are shown below:

Extracted from OIG Report
There is no way to tell from that FLO statistics how many family members do not work by choice. I think it is telling that there is no statistics reflecting this. I would suggest however, that whatever is the number of the unemployed by choice, they do not constitute 63%. So -- there were almost 6,000 family members not working overseas in 2007, and there were some 5,000 LE positions vacant as of fall 2008. Isn't this a match made in heaven? Not so fast... One of the few times when the State Department was forced to hire family members and US contractors for local jobs, was in Moscow back in the 1980's when 260 Soviet employees were withdrawn from the embassy. That does not happen very often. “Missions help where they can.” I'm sorry -- but I think believing that is like eating a thick soup of disappointment, with a strong dash of habanero. Too harsh? But see -- even when they can, they won't. Not because they are evil but because post overseas are holding tight purse strings and must make hard choices. Look -- the lowest foreign service position for family members that pays maybe $8/hour would still allow an embassy/consulate to hire a local at $8/day in some places in the world. Or even $3-4 dollar/day as indicated in the OIG report. Maybe not in Seoul, Tokyo or in Europe but certainly, in a large swath of the globe that is possible. So for one US-salaried position, depending on location and standard of living, posts could potentially afford to fund multiple local positions. I would not put the entire lot of blame on post management, after all, its job is to stretch the budget for as far as it can go to fund the mission. In the end the choice is rather simple from a post management perspective -- either you keep some spouses unhappy in their journey to self actualization, or you keep most of your mission population together by hiring essential support staff needed to keep the mission and the residences humming. Somebody said that an unhappy loved one does not have to be the norm ... ah, but -- As long as FS family member positions are not centrally funded, we will continue to see high rates of unemployment among the EFM population. And as long as State continue to look at spouses and partners seeking jobs as problems instead of solutions, no one will get central funding for any position. Tomorrow Next I'll write about State's soft power approach to spouse employment.

Related Item: Review of Locally Employed Staff Compensation Issues Report Number ISP-I-09-44, April 2009 (pdf)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

US Embassy Baghdad Employees Killed by IED

MNF Baghdad reported that three people were killed and two were wounded May 25, when an improvised explosive device detonated during a visit of construction sites near Fallujah. The IED struck a vehicle traveling as part of a convoy that included Coalition Forces and U.S. Government civilians and contractors. The two wounded personnel were medically evacuated to a hospital for treatment.

A statement from Ambassador Hill dated May 26 says in part: “It is with deepest regret that we announce the tragic loss on May 25, 2009 of our Embassy Baghdad colleague Terrence Barnich, who was an employee of the U.S. Department of State. Mr. Barnich was the Deputy Director of the Iraq Transition Assistance Office (ITAO). Another employee from the Department of Defense detailed to the Embassy staff also died and will be identified pending notification of next of kin. They were killed when their car drove over an Improvised Explosive Device. They were returning from an inspection of a waste water treatment plant under construction in Fallujah, the largest and most complex U.S. government-funded project in Anbar Province. A Department of Defense military employee was also killed in the explosion."

DOD has now identified one of the two unnamed casualties as Navy sailor, Cmdr. Duane G. Wolfe, 54, of Port Hueneme, California.He died May 25 from injuries suffered as a result of an improvised explosive device attack on his convoy southeast of Fallujah. Wolfe was assigned to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Gulf Region Division in Iraq.

Updated 5/29/09: On May 28, DOD announced the death of Department of the Army civilian employee Maged M. Hussein, 43, of Cairo, Egypt. He died May 25 in Al Taqaddum, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his convoy vehicle in Fallujah, Iraq. He was employed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, Jacksonville, Florida.

Related Items:

Richard Holbrooke with POTUS

What did you say?

Source: White House/Flickr
Above is an official White House photo taken by Pete Souza. It shows President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, right, and Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke, in the Oval Office during a briefing prior to meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai on May 6, 2009. Update (revised post): A blog friend cautions against reading too much into this picture. Without knowing what happened there, we can assume too much and read more tea leaves into this scene than necessary, including Hillary's absence. It is also true that this is only one instant, a moment in time when the three were caught together in Pete Souza's viewfinder. I did look back at the SoS appointment that day. That morning, she had bilateral meetings with Hamid Karzai then Pakistan's Asif Ali Zardari. Afterwards she led the US-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Consultations II, in the Benjamin Franklin Room. The larger photo is better, see it here.