Monday, January 26, 2009

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

I've been remiss in telling you anything about the new folks coming in at the State Department, and I thought I would begin to try to remedy that.

You may have heard long ago that Secretary Clinton will have two Deputies (D in State Department shorthand), James B. Steinberg and Jacob Lew.

Steinberg will have the role vacated by Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte (and will be considered the Principal Deputy). Steinberg served as deputy national security adviser in Bill Clinton's administration.

Lew, former Office of Management and Budget director during President Clinton's administration, will focus on budget and resources. His appointment is to what is essentially a new position at the Department. There is usually there is only one deputy, and this may be a sign of Secretary Clinton's interest in expanding resources for the department. I certainly hope so. It is clear from her welcoming remarks and the subsequent visit by President Obama that both Secretary Clinton and the President are committed to revitalizing the role of diplomacy in national security policy, and the Department needs more resources to do that job.

It seems that Under Secretary for Political Affairs Bill Burns (P in State Department shorthand) and Under Secretary for Management Pat Kennedy (M) will both be staying on. I think that will be good both for continuity and for keeping careerists in prominent positions.

A former top State Department official during President Clinton's administration, Wendy R. Sherman, may be to be returning to the Department, possibly in another stint as counselor (C) to the Secretary.

Al Kamen, in today's In the Loop in the Washington Post, had these picks:

Daniel Benjamin, a terrorism expert at the Brookings Institution who had been Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's terrorism adviser during the presidential campaign, appears to be joining the State Department as assistant secretary for counterterrorism. "The Next Attack," a book he co-authored, opens with: "We are losing . . ."

Jennifer E. Sims, a former deputy assistant secretary of state for intelligence coordination and Senate intelligence committee aide who is now a Georgetown professor, is returning to Foggy Bottom to head the Bureau of Intelligence and Research.


Rose Gottemoeller is reportedly coming back from the Carnegie Institute's Moscow office to be assistant secretary of state for verification.


There still appear to be openings at State for top jobs minding South Asia -- but no one seems to want them now, because the odds are you'll never know what's really going on in your region what with special envoy Richard C. Holbrooke in charge. Ditto for the Middle East post, but they might decide to just elevate the highly regarded career deputy, Jeffrey D. Feltman, to take care of things new special envoy George J. Mitchell (and maybe Dennis Ross) don't care about.

I guess this also means that Elizabeth Jones, the former Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (EUR), who had been mentioned as the new A/S for Near Eastern Affairs (NEA), has bowed out of consideration. I would be happy to see Ambassador Feltman get the top spot at NEA, not just because he is a careerist but because he is an all-around decent guy. As for who would take the A/S position in SCA, I haven't heard. Kurt Campbell, who had been at the Pentagon in the Clinton administration as deputy assistant secretary for Asia-Pacific matters, is still apparently the choice to be assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific affairs (EAP).


Chris said...

Just wondering if anyone has heard if Michael Guest might be brought back for any role? I was hoping that the administration might bring him back into the fold if they were to make any advances on the whole MOH issue.

Digger said...

I've heard rumors that he might be. I am keeping my fingers crossed.