Season’s Greetings

Season’s Greetings to Diplopundit’s readers in the United States and across many interesting places around the world. Have a Merry Christmas, an exuberant Kurban Bayram, a joyous Kawanzaa, a festive Hannukah and a warm night by the fire with all your loved ones and friends!

And I’d like to send extra warm thanks to Diplopundit’s blogging friends and referrers who helped us through our start-up year: Digger at Life After Jerusalem, Jerry at Avuncular American, Consul-at-Arms, TSB at the Skeptical Bureaucrat, Jill at The Perlman Update, and Brian at Foreign Service Husband.

A Foreign Service Christmas Story

Photo by Tomasz Sienicki licensed under cca 2.5

James Wagner, staff member of The Times editorial pages, former FS kid and son of U.S. diplomat Jim Wagner, pens in the LAT, The Best Present Ever, on how his father’s return after being held hostage in Peru made Christmas for him when he was 10 years old:

The greatest Christmas present I have ever received came two days early and with a rough beard. It was my father, weary and unshaven, after five days as a hostage.

He and my mother left our home in Lima, Peru, on Dec. 17, 1996, to attend a party at the Japanese Embassy in honor of the Japanese emperor’s birthday. My mother returned later that night.

My father didn’t.

A lanky and reserved man, my father grew up in Ohio but left to see the world and serve his country in the U.S. Foreign Service. In 1996, he was a political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Peru.


My parents weren’t strangers to violence. My mother grew up in Nicaragua as the country was torn apart by civil war. My father was shot in the leg and left for dead at a shopping center one night in Venezuela after three thieves stole our family car. My parents knew how to react on hearing explosions. Inside the mansion, they took cover near an interior wall.

Continue reading the story here.

Officially In: Steinberg and Lew, the New "D"

The WSJ posted on December 23, 2008, 4:05 pm the announcement of key members of Obama’s national security team, including James B. Steinberg for Deputy Secretary of State, and Jacob Lew for Deputy Secretary of State, and the appointment of Thomas E. Donilon as Deputy National Security Advisor and Antony “Tony” Blinken as National Security Advisor to the Vice President.

WaPo has more on this:

“Obama’s Secretary of State designate Hillary Rodham Clinton will have two deputies, according to an announcement from the transition office. One, former Clinton administration official James B. Steinberg, will focus on policy, while the other, former Office of Management and Budget director Jacob Lew, will focus on budget and resources.

Lew’s appointment to what is essentially a new position at State — usually there is only one deputy — is a possible sign of Clinton’s interest in expanding resources for the department. While many past secretaries have voiced interest in growing the size and influence of the department, some of Clinton’s informal advisers say she is deeply interested in revitalizing the role of diplomacy in national security policy — and needs more resources to do so.”

Brief bios from the announcements made late yesterday:

James B. Steinberg, Deputy Secretary of State

James B. Steinberg became dean of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs on January 1, 2006. Before joining the School, he was the vice president and director of Foreign Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. (2001-2005), where he supervised a wide-ranging research program on U.S. foreign policy. From December 1996 to August 2000, he served as deputy national security advisor to President Bill Clinton. During that period he also served as the president’s personal representative (”Sherpa”) to the 1998 and 1999 G-8 summits. Prior to becoming deputy national security advisor, he served as chief of staff of the U.S. State Department and director of the State Department’s policy planning staff (1994-1996), and as deputy assistant secretary for analysis in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (1993-1994). Steinberg is a member of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board, the President’s Council on International Activities of Yale University, the board of directors of the Pacific Council on International Policy, the senior advisory council of The American Assembly’s Next Generation Project, the board of advisors of the Center for a New American Security, the board of advisors of The Yale Journal of International Law, and the editorial board of The Washington Quarterly. He also is a member of the D.C. Bar. Steinberg is the author of and contributor to many books and articles on foreign policy and national security topics, including Difficult Transitions: Foreign Policy Troubles at the Outset of Power, Protecting the Homeland 2006/2007 and An Ever Closer Union: European Integration and Its Implications for the Future of U.S.-European Relations. Steinberg received his B.A. from Harvard in 1973 and J.D. from Yale Law School in 1978. Steinberg is married to Ms. Sherburne B. Abbott, director of the Center for Science and Practice of Sustainability at the University of Texas at Austin. They have two daughters, Jenna and Emma.

Jacob Lew, Deputy Secretary of State

Jacob J. “Jack” Lew is a Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer of Citi Alternative Investments, where he is responsible for operations, technology, human resources, legal, finance and regional coordination. Previously, Mr. Lew was Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of New York University, where he was responsible for budget, finance, and operations (including capital projects and human resources). Prior to joining NYU, Mr. Lew served in President Clinton’s cabinet as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and led the Administration budget team, from the preparation of the President’s budget through final negotiations with Congress. He was also a member of the National Security Council. From 1979 to 1987, he was a Senior Policy Advisor to House Speaker Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr. Mr. Lew serves on the Corporation for National and Community Service Board and chairs its Management, Administration, and Governance Committee. He co-chairs the Advisory Board for City Year New York and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Brookings Institution Hamilton Project Advisory Board, and the National Academy of Social Insurance. He is a member of the bar in Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.

Read more on the other nominees here.

Update: 1/22/2009:
Nominations: Secretary Clinton’s Deputies