Monthly Archives: June 2013

Officially In: Ambassador Patricia Marie Haslach — From the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization to Ethiopia

— By Domani Spero

On June 14, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Ambassador Patricia Marie Haslach as the next Ambassador to Ethiopia.  The WH released the folowing brief bio:

Ambassador Patricia Marie Haslach, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career-Minister, is Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations.  Previously, from 2011 to 2012, she was Iraq Transition Coordinator in the Office of the Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources.  From 2010 to 2011, she was Deputy Coordinator for Global Hunger and Food Security, and from 2009 to 2010, she was Assistant Chief of Mission for Assistance Transition at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq.  Ambassador Haslach’s additional assignments include: United States Senior Coordinator for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum, with the rank of Ambassador, from 2007 to 2009; Ambassador to Laos from 2004 to 2007; Director of the Office for Afghanistan at the Department of State from 2002 to 2004; and Economic Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan from 2000 to 2002.  Ambassador Haslach began her career with the federal government in the Foreign Agriculture Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

She received a B.A. from Gonzaga University and an M.I.A. from Columbia University.

 

If confirmed, Ambassador Haslach would succeed career diplomat Donald E. Booth who was appointed chief of mission to Addis Ababa in December 2009. Of the 15 ambassadors appointed to Ethiopia since 1960, only three or 20% were political appointees.

 

 

Related items:

June 14, 2013 | President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

April 2013 | Q&A with Ambassador Patricia Haslach, a Lake Oswego native to be honored for career as U.S. diplomat

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Officially In: John B. Emerson — From Capital Group to the Federal Republic of Germany

—By Domani Spero

 

On June 14, President Obama announced his intent to nominate John B. Emerson to be the next Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany. The WH released the following brief bio:

John B. Emerson is President of Private Client Services for the Capital Group Companies, a global investment management firm.  From 1994 to 1997, Mr. Emerson served as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the White House.  From 1993 to 1994, he was Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of Presidential Personnel at the White House.  From 1987 to 1992, he was the Los Angeles Chief Deputy City Attorney.  He began his career in 1978 as an attorney with Manatt, Phelps, Rothenberg, and Tunney in Los Angeles.  Mr. Emerson is a Member of the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations, a position he has held since his appointment in 2010.   He served as Chairman of the LA Mayor’s Council on the Arts from 2004 to 2005.

Mr. Emerson received an A.B. from Hamilton College and a J.D. from the University of Chicago.

OpenSecrets.org listed Mr. Emerson as one of President Obama’s bundlers who raiser over $500,000 in the 2012 campaign. According to Roll Call, Mr. Emerson was also the 2012 co-chairman of the DNC’s Southern California finance committee.  The couple’s bio via PCIP says that Mr. Emerson’s wife, Kimberly Marteau Emerson is an attorney and civic leader who served in the Clinton Administration as Director of Public Liaison for the U.S.  Information Agency (USIA), where she was the domestic spokesperson, and traveled as the senior USIA political liaison on President Clinton’s overseas trips to the Far East, Europe, Russia and the former Soviet Union.

If confirmed, Mr. Emerson would replace Philip D. Murphy, a former Goldman Sachs executive and former National Finance Chair of the Democratic National Committee who was appointed to the US Embassy Berlin in September 2009.  According to the AFSA statistics, non-career ambassadors make up 70.6% of all ambassadorial appointments to Germany since 1960

(‘_’)

 

Related item:

June 14, 2013 | President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

 

 

 

 

 

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Officially In: James Costos — From HBO to Spain

— By Domani Spero

 

On June 14, President Obama announced his intent to nominate James Costos as the next Ambassador to Spain. The WH released the following brief bio:

James Costos is Vice President of Global Licensing and Retail for Home Box Office (HBO).  Before joining HBO in 2006, he was President and CEO of Eight Cylinders, Inc., an entertainment marketing and licensing agency.  Previously, from 2002 to 2004, he was head of Promotions and Consumer Products at Revolution Studios in California.  He began his career in New York as a fashion and retail executive.  From 2001 to 2002, he was Vice President of Retail for Hermes in New York, and from 1991 to 2001, he was Vice President of Retail Operations for Tod’s in New York.  Mr. Costos currently serves on the Board of Directors of The Humane Society of the United States.

He received a B.A. from the University of Massachusetts.


According to OpenSecrets.org Mr. Costos and his partner, designer Michael Smith, raised at least $500,000 for Obama’s reelection campaign in the 2012 cycle.  In 2009, Smith was selected by the first lady to redecorate the residential quarters of the White House, and he later designed a makeover of the Oval Office.

If confirmed, Mr. Costos would replace political appointee Alan Solomont who was appointed chief of mission to the US Embassy Madrid in December 2009.  Non-career ambassadors make up 73.7% of all ambassadorial appointments to Spain since 1960.

(‘_’)


Related item:

June 14, 2013 | President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Officially In: Liliana Ayalde — From WHA to Brazil

—By Domani Spero

On June 14, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Ambassador Liliana Ayalde as the next Ambassador to the Federative Republic of Brazil. The WH released the following brief bio:

Ambassador Liliana Ayalde, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career-Minister, is Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs.  From 2008 to 2011, she served as the U.S. Ambassador to Paraguay.  Ambassador Ayalde began her career in the Foreign Service at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), where she served for 24 years.  At USAID, she served as Mission Director in Colombia from 2005 to 2008, Mission Director in Bolivia from 1999 to 2005, and as Deputy Mission Director in Nicaragua from 1997 to 1999.

Ambassador Ayalde received a B.A. from the School of International Studies at American University and an M.P.H. from the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at Tulane University.

Via US Embassy Paraguay

Via US Embassy Paraguay

If confirmed Ambasador Ayalde would succeed career diplomat Thomas A. Shannon, Jr. who appointed to the US Embassy in Brasilia in December 2009.

(‘_’)

 

Related post:
Why the Legacy Tours? Rutherford B. Hayes Memorial BP Station

Related item:
June 14, 2013 | President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

 

 

 

 

 

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US Mission Egypt Now on Authorized Departure But July 4th Celebration Still On

— By Domani Spero

On June 28, the State Department announced the authorized departure of “a limited number” of non-emergency USG personnel and family members from Egypt due to the ongoing unrest.  Since we’re now in the summer season and school is out, hopefully a good number of family members have already left the country. The Travel Alert dated May 15, 2013 has now been replaced with a Travel Warning that U.S. citizens defer travel to Egypt at this time.

The embassy had previously announced that it will be closed to the public on Sunday, June 30 and later announced closure also for Monday, July 1.  (See US Embassy Cairo: To Close on June 30, Be Prepared to Shelter in Place).  But as of today, we understand that the Embassy Front Office has yet to cancel post’s July 4th celebration for next week.

The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens traveling to or living in Egypt to defer non-essential travel to Egypt at this time due to the continuing possibility of political and social unrest.  On June 28, 2013, the Department of State authorized the departure of a limited number of non-emergency employees and family members.  U.S. citizens are urged to remain alert to local security developments and to be vigilant regarding their personal security. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Alert issued for Egypt dated May 15, 2013.

On June 28, the Department of State authorized the departure of a limited number of non-emergency U.S. government personnel and family members from Egypt due to the ongoing political and social unrest.

Political unrest, which intensified prior to the constitutional referendum in December 2012 and the anniversary in 2013 of Egypt’s 25th January Revolution, is likely to continue in the near future due to unrest focused on the first anniversary of the President’s assumption of office.  Demonstrations have, on occasion, degenerated into violent clashes between police and protesters, resulting in deaths, injuries, and extensive property damage. Participants have thrown rocks and Molotov cocktails and security forces have used tear gas and other crowd control measures against demonstrators. There are numerous reports of the use of firearms as well. While violent protests have occurred in major metropolitan areas, including downtown Cairo, Alexandria, and Port Said, the security situation in most tourist centers, including Luxor, Aswan, and Red Sea resorts such as Sharm el Sheikh, continues to be calm. Of specific concern is a rise in gender-based violence in and around protest areas where women have been the specific targets of sexual assault.

Read the June 28 Travel Warning here.

In related news,  Ahram Online is reporting that a 21-year old American has become a second casualty amidst clashes in Alexandria.  The report citing  Amin Ezz El-Din, head of Alexandria’s security directorate said that the young American had been taking pictures with his mobile phone near one of the offices of the Muslim Brotherhood, the group from which President Morsi hails, when he was stabbed to death.  Neither the US Embassy Cairo or USCG Alexandria has confirmed the death. Then there’s this side story from McClatchy Newspapers’ Middle East Bureau chief:

Screen Shot 2013-06-28

Update @ 10:04 pm PST:  The American killed in Alexandria has been identified by Kenyon College as Andrew Pochter.  Pochter, 21, of Chevy Chase, Md., died during clashes between opponents and supporters of President Mohamed Morsi.  He was an intern at AMIDEAST, an American non-profit organization engaged in international education, training and development activities in the Middle East and North Africa.  There is troubling report that the victim was asked if he was an American prior to stabbing. If true, this would be the second incident in a few weeks that appears directed at U.S. citizens.  Until May 9th this year, security advisories from the embassy were still saying that “in general, anti-American sentiment is not directed at individual U.S. citizens in Egypt.”

The ongoing protests leading up to the mega-protest organized for June 30 while directed at President Morsi and his party are taking on an increasingly anti-American tenor.

The Tamarod (Rebel) Campaign collecting signatures for an early presidential election has listed its reasons online including one why it rejects its sitting president: “We reject you… Because Egypt is still following the footsteps of the USA.” More about the Tamarod campaign here.

The protesters are saying it with banners, too; all posted on Twitter and cc’ed to @USEmbassyCairo.  The banners are made with specific messages; as well, there are photos circulating of the U.S. ambassador’s photos spray painted with red X marks.  That looks like a lot of anger just waiting to burst …

Twiiter_patterson

Twiiter_patterson2

Twitter_Obama

Meanwhile, CNN’s Barbara Starr said that U.S. Marines stationed in southern Europe have been put on alert as a precaution in advance of expected large demonstrations and potential unrest in Egypt this weekend:

About 200 combat capable Marines in Sigonella, Italy, and Moron, Spain, have been told to be ready to be airborne within 60 minutes of getting orders to deploy, according to two administration officials.

The units have several V-22 tilt-rotor aircraft that would carry troops and infantry weapons to Egypt to protect the U.S. Embassy and American government personnel and citizens if violence broke out against Americans.

The officials both emphasized this is contingency planning in advance of the expected demonstrations to ensure American military assets, including rescue forces, can act if needed. In the event Americans had to be evacuated from Egypt and could not get to the airport due to the unrest, there are about 2,000 additional Marines on board three Navy warships in the Red Sea, officials said.

A third official said the decision to keep the warship in the Red Sea was “very precautionary.”

Continue reading:  Out of precaution, Marines on ready to go to Egypt to protect U.S. Embassy, citizens.

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After 1,989 Day-Vacancy — President Obama Nominates Steve Linick as State Dept Inspector General

– By Domani Spero

President Obama nominated Steve A. Linick as State Department Inspector General today filling a 1,989-day vacancy. U.S. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said the nomination today of a full-time Inspector General at the U.S. State Department is long overdue.

“A full time, independent watchdog at the State Department is essential to protect the interest of taxpayers. While this nomination is long overdue, I appreciate the president responding to the concerns that I’ve expressed to him and Secretary Kerry regarding this vacancy, and I look forward to getting to know the nominee as our committee considers his fitness for this important position,” said Corker.

 

Steve A. Linick is currently the Inspector General of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.  Below is his official bio posted on the FHFA website:

Steve A. Linick has led the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) since his U.S. Senate confirmation in 2010. As Inspector General, Mr. Linick is the senior official responsible for audits, evaluations, investigations, and other law enforcement efforts to combat fraud, waste, and abuse within or affecting the programs and operations of FHFA. FHFA-OIG’s oversight includes FHFA’s regulation of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the 12 Federal Home Loan Banks. Mr. Linick heads an independent organization of more than 100 professionals who are dedicated to promoting economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in all FHFA programs.

Mr. Linick has also spearheaded an initiative among Federal inspectors general who play significant roles in supporting U.S. housing. In November 2011, this initiative resulted in the Compendium of Federal Single Family Mortgage Programs and Related Activities, which is a guide to Federal agencies’ major housing efforts. In addition, Mr. Linick is a member of the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Taskforce; the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE), Investigations Committee, where he serves as the Vice-Chair of the committee’s Suspension and Debarment Working Group; and a permanent member of the Council of Inspectors General on Financial Oversight.

Mr. Linick is trained as a lawyer, and prior to his appointment as Inspector General, he served in several leadership positions in the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). From 2006 to 2010, he served in dual roles as Executive Director of DOJ’s National Procurement Fraud Task Force and Deputy Chief of its Fraud Section, Criminal Division. As Deputy Chief, Mr. Linick managed and supervised the investigation and prosecution of white-collar criminal cases involving procurement fraud, public corruption, investment fraud, telemarketing fraud, mortgage fraud, corporate fraud, and money laundering, among other cases. In addition, he was the front-line official at DOJ for contract fraud cases relating to the U.S. wars and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan. In October 2008, Mr. Linick received the Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award for leading DOJ’s procurement fraud initiative. Previously, Mr. Linick was an Assistant United States Attorney, first in the Central District of California (1994-1999) and subsequently in the Eastern District of Virginia (1999-2006).

Mr. Linick received his BA (1985) and MA (1990) in Philosophy from Georgetown University and his JD (1990) from the Georgetown University Law Center.

Did the senator from Texas just got lucky or had excellent timing? (See Still No Junkyard Dog? Senator Cruz Warns He’ll Place a Hold on All State Dept Nominations).

We are pleased to see that the nominee is an outsider but is not totally a stranger to the role of the Inspector General.

(^o^)

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Officially In: Denise Bauer — from Women for Obama to Belgium

—By Domani Spero
On June 21, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Denise Bauer as the next Ambassador to Belgium. The WH released the following brief bio:

Denise Bauer is Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Belvedere Community Foundation in Belvedere, California.  Ms. Bauer was Finance Chair for Women for Obama from 2011 to 2012, and served on the Obama for America National Finance Committee from 2011 to 2012 and from 2007 to 2008.  From 2008 to 2012, she served on the Democratic National Committee, serving as Chair and Co-chair of the Women’s Leadership Forum and as Co-chair of the National Issues Conference.  Prior to this, Ms. Bauer worked in television news and public affairs.  From 1993 to 1994, she was a Public Affairs Officer for the American Red Cross Bay Area in San Francisco.  From 1990 to 1992, she was a freelance film and video producer in Los Angeles, and from 1988 to 1990, she was the News Producer for the North American Bureau of Nine Network Australia in Los Angeles.  She began her career in television in 1985 as a Field Producer and Researcher for KCBS-TV News in Los Angeles.

Ms. Bauer received a B.A. from Occidental College.

According to www.barackobama.com, Ms. Bauer is one of the fundraisers who bundled $500,000+ for the Obama campaign in 2012.

The Center for Public Integrity notes that the actual amount Ms. Bauer  raised could be much higher as the Obama campaign only used broad ranges to describe the activities of its bundlers, the highest of which was “more than $500,000.” She’s considered one of the top ten bundlers for President Obama in the 2012 campaign.

The NYT’s list of Obama Top Fund-Raisers in September 2012 listed Ms. Bauer as a homemaker from Belvedere Tiburon, California who raised a total of $4,367,187 since 2007.

If confirmed by the Senate, Ms. Bauer would replace Ambassador Howard Gutman. According to OpenSecrets.org, Ambassador Gutman was one of the two dozen major campaign bundlers who became ambassadors following the 2008 election.  The outgoing ambassador raised at least $775,000 for President Obama’s 2008 campaign and first inauguration.  The new nominee announced raised almost six times that amount for President Obama’s reelection campaign which may or may not mean anything for the 2016 bundlers who wants Belgium.

(.-.)


Related item:

June 21, 2013 | President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

 

 

 

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Officially In: Victoria Nuland — From State Spokesperson to EUR Bureau

—By Domani Spero
On May 23, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Ambassador Victoria Nuland as the next Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs (EUR). The WH released the following brief bio:

Ambassador Victoria Nuland, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, has served as the State Department Spokesperson since 2011.  Previously, from 2010 to 2011, she was Special Envoy for Conventional Armed Forces in Europe.  Ambassador Nuland served on the faculty of the National War College from 2008 to 2010, after serving as the U.S. Permanent Representative to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) from 2005 to 2008.  From 2003 to 2005, she was Principal Deputy National Security Advisor to the Vice President, and from 2000 to 2003, she served as U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to NATO.  From 1997 to 1999, Ambassador Nuland was Deputy to the Ambassador-at-Large for the former Soviet States at the Department of State.  Ambassador Nuland served overseas at the U.S. Embassies in Moscow from 1991 to 1993, Mongolia in 1988, and at the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China from 1985 to 1986.

She received a B.A. from Brown University.

Screen Shot 2013-06-27

Look at that career trajectory!

Next to Susan Rice, Ambassador Nuland is probably the most recognizable name associated with Benghazi. The Benghazi “talking points” that is, which proved to be a most controversial subject with more lives than a cat.   She is also one of the 13 former and current officials of the State Department that the House Oversight Committee would like to chat with.

If confirmed, Ambassador Nuland who is a career diplomat would succeed political appointee Philip Gordon, who was appointed to the National Security Staff as Special Assistant to the President and White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa, and the Gulf Region in March 2013.

Ambassador Nuland’s nomination is scheduled to be taken up by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 11, 2013 at 2:15 pm.  It should be an interesting hearing or … a boring one, depends on who shows up for the hearing.

(._.)

Related item:

May 23, 2013 | President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

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Don’t name your sibling charge d’affaires and other zero warranty advice for the road

— By Domani Spero

Late last Friday, the WH released the names of individuals who President Obama intends to nominate as ambassadors to a few cushy appointments in Belgium, Australia, Chile and some not so cushy ones like Cote d’Ivoire, Lebanon, the Lao Republic and others. A week previously, President Obama also announced his nominees for our posts in Spain, Germany, and Denmark.

There’s just enough time for the Senate to hold confirmation hearings before it goes on a summer break. No Paris, London, Tokyo, Luxembourg yet, but they sure will come before much longer.

It  is funny-ha-ha to see the elephant crowd deride the Obama appointments of “bundlers” to ambassadorial posts. We should recall that not too long ago, the donkey crowd also once derided the Bush ambassadorial appointments of “pioneers,” “rangers,” and “super rangers” after two prior elections.

Screen Shot 2013-06-22

Click image to go to AFSA’s Ambassador List

Meanwhile, the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) continues to appeal for a bipartisan commitment to a more professional, better trained and better resourced diplomatic service. It also argues that “the appointment of non-career individuals, however accomplished in their own field, to lead America’s important diplomatic missions abroad should be exceptional and circumscribed, not the routine practice it has become over the last three decades.”

Not bad arguments, of course, except that they’re talking to the wall.

The notion that this practice of appointing mega donors as ambassadors is going to end soon or later (when there’s a new administration) is rather absurd.  The reality is both political parties have an interest in perpetuating this practice. So the people who can put a stop to it, will not stop it.

The American Foreign Service Association statistics on ambassadorial appointments indicate that Presidents Carter and Clinton appointed 26.73% and 27.82% political ambassadors respectively, the lowest in the group.  President Carter has the most number of career appointees at 73.27%.  President Ford who was only in office from August 1974-January 1977 topped the appointment of political ambassadors at 38.2%.  President Bush (41), President Bush (43) and President Obama all have political ambassadorial appointees hovering slightly above the 30 percent mark.  (The AFSA stats did not include a tally of President Reagan’s appointments as of this writing).

It must be said that both parties are equal opportunist during elections.  And the results when it comes to ambassadorial appointments following every election reflect that.

Nixon. Remember former President Nixon’s grand jury testimony unsealed in 2011 where he talked about  the selling of ambassadorships? (see Nixon’s 1975 Grand Jury Testimony: No selling of ambassadorships, but gave a price tag of $250K in 1971).

“I would say, looking at the smaller countries like Luxembourg, that Pearl Mesta wasn’t sent to Luxembourg because she had big bosoms. Pearl Mesta went to Luxembourg because she made a good contribution. But may I say she was a very good ambassador in Luxembourg. And when you talk about selling ambassadorships, I don’t want the record of this Grand Jury 11 even to indicate that people of wealth, because they do make contributions, therefore should be barred from being ambassadors.

The record should clearly indicate that certainly no commitment, no sale of ambassadorships should be made, but, on the other hand, the fact that an individual has proved himself on the American scene, has proved himself by legitimately building a great fortune, rather than being a disqualifier is a factor that can be considered and should be considered in determining whether he should get a position.”

In the face of this long and persistent tradition, we think that an outside group such as, perhaps the American Academy of Diplomacy or a similar entity should consider rating ambassadorial nominees as “well qualified,” “qualified” or “not qualified” before they are confirmed. This is what the American Bar Association has done in over five decades when it comes to judicial nominees and it has shown some influence in the Senate confirmation process.  It will not stop presidents from nominating top donors to plum ambassadorships, but perhaps it will encourage more scrupulous care on the vetting of nominees at the WH and at the Senate during their confirmation hearings.

In the absence of that, political ambassadors ought to follow a few straight-forward rules when going overseas — provided unsolicited below with zero warranty, of course:   (Also see WhirledView: A Primer for first-time U.S. political appointee ambassadors)

1.  First, do no harm.

The governing rule of diplomats, like that of doctors, must be ‘first, do no harm’.  When you get into a tough situation, and you will, whatever you do, do not make it worse.  If your post is working well, be a good steward of the mission. If it’s working badly, try your darnest to make it better.  If you don’t like your DCM, think hard before you kick him/her out and ask for a replacement. And whatever you do, do not/do not ask for a replacement DCM every six months; it won’t end well. (See Which Ambassador is planning to unload his/her DCM shortly and other curtailment news).


2.  Try not to be too memorable that you live on in embassy and host country lore.

Retired FSO George West recalls that “President Truman, in his infinite wisdom and on the advice of his wife, sent Perle Mesta to Luxembourg.”  She was known as “The Hostess with the Mostest” and the inspiration of the Irving Berlin musical ‘Call Me Madam.’  To read more about that appointment in 1948-1950, click here for Mr. West’s oral history.

Remember when? Host countries have long memories.  According to Robert Fritts who was previously our ambassador to Ghana and Rwanda:

“I heard lots of unflattering Luxembourg anecdotes, for example, about Perle Mesta, who had been appointed by President Truman. She also lived on in embassy lore as having named her resident sister rather than the DCM as charge d’affaires a.i. when she left post on one her frequent absences. It got straightened out, but the Luxembourgers never forgot it.”


3.  Not all projects are created equal

President Bush’s Ambassador to Italy, Ronald P. Spogli marked his tenure in Rome in a most tangible way. He presided over the wine cellar construction at the Villa Taverna, the 16th century residence in Rome that has served as home for our ambassadors in Italy for the last 75 years. The project which cost over a million dollars was funded and supported by Italian wineries. (See More on Embassy Rome’s Donated $1.1 Million Wine Cellar).

One of the 2009 ambassadorial appointees during President Obama’s first term in office is Bruce Oreck who went to Finland.  He made the renovation of the US Embassy in Helsinki his top project. His persistence “revived a stalled project to renovate the antiquated and unsafe chancery buildings.” (See US Embassy Helsinki: Ambassador Bruce “Biceps” Oreck Launches Innovation Center).

So perhaps a project that fits a need to a T?   Somebody had already tried a Song and Verse Competition, to iffy results.  Another one had personally designed a health campaign, Let’s Live to unrealistic expectations.

4.  Uncle Sam is cheap, be prepared to spend out-of-pocket

In 2008, forbes.com had an article on ambassadors, primarily on the outgoing Bush Ambassador to London, Robert H. Tuttle.

America’s ambassador to Britain, Robert H. Tuttle, was hosting one of his last lavish breakfasts for guests at his residence near the U.S. embassy in London, the morning after Barack Obama’s election victory.
[...]
American ambassadors picked for desirable posts like London and Paris tend to be wealthy as they are expected to entertain guests more extravagantly than the State Department budget might allow. (Tuttle would no doubt have served highest-quality marmalade and croissants at his post-election breakfast last Wednesday, for instance.) “Ambassadors are given representational funds, but some have chosen to use personal funds to go into their own pockets,” an embassy spokesman said.

No one says why some have chosen to use personal funds.  Perhaps that’s because the official representational funds is nothing to write home about?  An NYT article in January 2013 says that “Deep pockets are an unofficial requirement for many postings” and that “in some capitals they can expect to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on entertaining.”

“The expectation is so ingrained that Timothy J. Roemer, a former congressman, felt compelled to bring up his bank account when Mr. Obama named him ambassador to India. “I told the White House and the State Department early on, I can’t afford to do the job like that,” Mr. Roemer said.”

Not to mention the ambassador’s wife changing clothes three times a day. In Paris.

Harold Geisel, the State Department’s Acting Inspector General is a retired FSO. From 1986-1988, he was the management counselor at the US Embassy in Rome where he served under political ambassador Maxwell Rabb. Below from his oral history via ADST:

About two days into my posting I was up to see him and his wife Ruth was there as well. And he started crying to me about how he was, I think, $20- or $30,000 out-of-pocket on his representation. And I looked at him and I said, look Mr. Ambassador. You live in Villa Taverna, one of the most glorious houses in Rome that was once the summer residence of the Holy Fathers. You go all over Rome in a Cadillac limousine with a motorcycle escort to beat the traffic, you have one of the best cooks in Rome and you get a salary of $90,000 a year. I’ll tell you what. If you’re not happy with it, I’ll pay the $30,000 out-of-pocket and take your place. He looked at Ruth and the two of them just started laughing and laughing. And we were great friends ever since and we even became business partners in a partnership after Rome. You have to know the guy you’re talking to. I mean, there are guys who would have thrown your rear end right out of there on the spot.


5. Ambo call home

A WH official reportedly told an ambassador, “You cannot realistically expect the leader of the free world to stop everything to rescue you from bad guys.” Is the direct line to the president overrated?  When political appointees take the short cut to join the diplomatic service and represent the United States of America, even they, must follow the rules, and there are tons of them in/out of the Foreign Affairs Manual.  This includes the landline and other connections that hook them directly to the mother ship with its corresponding multiple hierarchies.  And the mother ship, like it or not, is in Foggy Bottom, not the White House, even if the latter is the appointing authority.  (see WH to US Ambassador to Malta: Don’t Expect Leader of the Free World to Stop Everything to Rescue You From Bad Guys).

6.  Ambassadors charm school maybe helpful but it’s not enough.

WaPo’s Emily Heil recently reported about the ambassadors charm school, currently in session with some quotes from former ambassadors including this one:

One former ambassador says “charm school” is a misnomer for a rigorously educational and informational session. “Trust me, it’s not about china and teacups,” the graduate said. “It’s about the belly of the beast. It’s ‘here’s how it all works.’ ”

Right.  The US Ambassador to France Charles Rivkin described by the 2012 OIG report as a “dynamic and visionary noncareer ambassador” told Nicholas Kralev in March 2013 that the formal preparation process to become ambassador “was not sufficient for the standards he set himself, and that he “interviewed dozens of former ambassadors, took a lot of notes and learned a lot.”

The former ambassador to Sweden Matthew Barzun (rumored to be the front runner as the next US Ambassador to London)  who also got good marks in the OIG inspection report in 2011 told the IG inspectors that although he took the Department’s course for new chiefs of mission, he feels that “it did not adequately prepare him for the work he faced upon his arrival at post.”

New ambassadors get about two weeks of training at the Foreign Service Institute, the State Department’s training facility in Arlington, Virginia.  Then FSI director Ruth Whiteside told Nicholas Kralev that there is no plan to extend the course and that “The expectation is that they (the ambassadors) will be doing individual consultations on their particular post, have briefings at various agencies and other preparations.” She added that FSI’s job is “to give them the maximum chance for success.”

In two weeks.

(o_o)

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Filed under AFSA, Ambassadors, Ambassadorships, Diplomatic Life, Follow the Money, Foreign Service, Govt Reports/Documents, Nominations, Obama, Political Appointees, Politics, State Department, U.S. Missions

AFSA Urges State Dept to Move Swiftly to Ensure Equality of All FS Families

The American Foreign Service Association released the following statement urging the State Department to move swiftly  to ensure equality of all FS families in light of the June 26, 2013 SCOTUS decision on DOMA:

AFSA welcomes today’s Supreme Court decision declaring the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional.

AFSA President Susan R. Johnson said “AFSA has long advocated for full equality for the same-sex spouses of our Foreign Service employees.  Much progress was made during Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s time in office as far as access to benefits is concerned.  Given that he was one of only fourteen Senators to vote against DOMA in 1996, we know Secretary of State John Kerry is committed to full equality.  Now it’s time to finish the job on a federal level.”  She added: “We urge the Department of State, USAID and the other foreign affairs agencies to move swiftly to ensure full equality for all Foreign Service families, including health, pension, and immigration rights.”

AFSA urges a quick resolution of any outstanding bureaucratic issues that may hinder any legally-married same-sex couples from having immediate and full access to over 1,100 federal benefits.  Our LGBT Foreign Service personnel perform admirable service on behalf of this country all over the world, and their full right as Americans should now be recognized as quickly as possible.

Secretary Kerry also released a Statement on Supreme Court Ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act with this:

“To fully implement the requirements and implications of the Court’s decision, we will work with the Department of Justice and other agencies to review all relevant federal statutes as well as the benefits administered by this agency. We will work to swiftly administer these changes to ensure that every employee and their spouse have access to their due benefits regardless of sexual orientation both at home and abroad.”

Life After Jerusalem writes, “No more skim milk marriage for me and my wife!”

Adventures by Aaron writes, “I just want you to know that, today, I am incredibly happy.”

To our blog pal D and his beloved somewhere  in Asia, and to 4G and her house full of love, we’re sending you hugs and kisses.  To a friend and his family somewhere in the far continent, you can come home again, dude!

(♥_♥)

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Court Cases, Foreign Service, FS Benefits, FSOs, John F. Kerry, Life After Jerusalem, Secretary of State, Spouses/Partners, State Department