SFRC’s Top Staff Members Announced

Incoming Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) today announced several top staff members for the 111th Congress. David McKean, the Senator’s former Chief of Staff, will serve as Staff Director on the committee. Doug Frantz joins the committee as Chief Investigator, Frederick Jones as Communications Director, and Frank Lowenstein as Chief Counsel.

“This incoming Foreign Relations Committee intends to face the serious international military, security, political, and humanitarian issues head on,” said Sen. Kerry. “The knowledgeable, experienced staff we’ve assembled shares with me a deep personal commitment to meet these challenges and once again restore America’s standing in the world. I’m incredibly confident that this committee, headed by the exceptionally able David McKean, will work tirelessly to get this country back on track.”

David McKean, Staff Director

David McKean served as Chief of Staff in Sen. Kerry’s personal office from 1999 to 2008 and was a key player in laying the groundwork for the Senator’s presidential run in 2004. Raised in South Hamilton, MA, McKean graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1980 and went on to earn graduate degrees from both the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and Duke Law School. He taught at the Waterford Kamhlaba School in Swaziland from 1981-1982 and served as Chief of Staff to Joe Kennedy from 1993-1994. He is the author of two highly acclaimed political biographies and coauthor of a forthcoming book on the early Supreme Court. McKean is married with three children and lives in Washington D.C.

Doug Frantz, Chief Investigator

Douglas Frantz, a former managing editor of the Los Angeles Times and former investigative reporter for The New York Times, has joined the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as chief investigator. Frantz was part of the team of NY Times reporters who won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2002 and he was a Pulitzer finalist twice for investigative reporting. Frantz was the Istanbul bureau chief for the NY Times from 2000 to 2002 and he was based in Istanbul as an investigative reporter for the LA Times from 2003 to late 2005 when he became managing editor. He is a graduate of DePauw University and has a master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Frederick L. Jones, Communications Director

Frederick L. Jones II was a career Foreign Service Officer for over ten years, serving both domestically and abroad in positions with the State Department and Executive Office of the President during the Bush and Clinton Administrations. In his last position with the State Department, Jones served as Deputy Director of the State Department’s Office of Strategic Communications. Previously, he was detailed to the National Security Council, where he served first as Deputy Press Secretary for Foreign Affairs and later as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for the Office of Communications, Press, and Speechwriting. Jones also served as Media Coordinator/Deputy Press Secretary for Secretary of State Colin Powell and Deputy Press Secretary at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid. Jones earned a J.D. from the University of California Davis School of Law and a B.A. in Political Science, with a minor in History, from Howard University. He is a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Frank Lowenstein, Chief Counsel

Frank Lowenstein received a BA from Yale in 1990 and a JD from Boston College Law School in 1997, spending his third year in law school as visiting student at Yale. Lowenstein served as Legislative Assistant for Foreign Policy and Defense issues for Senator J. Robert Kerrey of Nebraska from 1990 to 1994. He was a Director of National Security Policy on the Kerry-Edwards campaign in 2003-2004. He practiced law for five years in Boston before joining the Kerry campaign, and for six months here in Washington after the campaign and before joining Senator Kerry’s personal staff. For the past three years, he has been Senator Kerry’s Senior Foreign Policy Advisor.

101 Ways to Become Secretary of State

My New Year’s resolution is not complete without a peek at my career plan for the next 30 years. If you’re like me, you would be reviewing that plan, too; can’t hurt in this day and age when companies are digesting jobs like the Venus flytraps and no longer even bother to burp out recycled, lower paying jobs.

Career planning is simply a vehicle we get to ride on. The journey might be interesting or not, might be an adventure or not, but it is the destination that truly grips our attention. Is success waiting for us at the end of the rainbow?

Richard St. John hints at some of the real secrets of success: passion, persistence, and apparently pushy mothers help, too — but that’s for another post. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also has something to say about passion and the road to success (Women’s Conference 2008 Remarks, October, Long Beach, California):

“Look, the first thing that I try to do is to explain to everyone that I try to mentor or that I’m trying to give advice – there isn’t really any particular road to success. You have to find the road that works for you. And so my conversations go something like this: A young student or maybe, now, a young Foreign Service officer will come in and then they’ll say, well, how do I get to do what you do? And what they mean is, how do I get to, one day, be Secretary of State? And I say, well, you start out as a failed piano major and you go on from there. […] And so the most important piece of advice that I can give is, don’t let somebody else define what you ought to be and what you want to be. When they look at you, they say, oh, you’ll want to do this because you look a certain way or you come from a certain background. I’m a perfect example of someone with no Russian blood who decided to study a culture that I had never seen, a place that I had never been, and it’s worked out for me. And so my advice is: Do what you love and forget the rest of it.”

That’s wonderful advice and all, and I hate sounding cantankerous but I should point out — perhaps her speechwriters did not realize this — a young Foreign Service Officer (FSO) can perhaps dream of becoming U.S. Ambassador one day but to get, to be Secretary of State, one day?

I think the Italians have a beautiful peachy word for this — “nonsenso.”

In the long history of the United States Secretary of State as the highest ranking cabinet secretary in both the line of succession and precedence, from Thomas Jefferson (SoS #1) in September 26, 1789 to Condoleezza Rice (SoS #66) appointed on January 26, 2005 — we had one career diplomat, one who went on to encumber this position.

The only FSO to ever become Secretary of State was a guy nicknamed “the Burg,” or more formally, Lawrence Eagleburger, the 62nd Secretary of State. Do you know how long he was in office? From December 8, 1992 – January 20, 1993. That’s right – exactly 43 days and some hours, give and take some minutes.

So — if I were a young person with fire in the belly and burning ambition of becoming Secretary of State one day, I’d skip the Foreign Service Officer’s Test (FSOT). You don’t have to but I would. Why? Because as a career diplomat, and given our history, the chance of rising up to the top position as Secretary of State is exactly 1.5%.

As an aside — if you simply want to be ambassador one day, please go ahead take the Foreign Service Exam. Um, unless you’re sitting on a large trust fund because as one political ambassador says, “in 90 days, you can become a diplomat,” (the type of diplomat you’d be after three months would be debatable but quick translation – why spend your life in cubicles with some hell-holes thrown in for adventure when there’s an easier way). Here’s a list of 50 who had the “smarts” and did it the easier way during the previous go round.

Anyway, if we go twenty appointments back just for fun – this should bring us to Cordell Hull, our 47th Secretary of State and longest serving SoS. A quick run down from the last 75 years shows that we had five SoS who came out of the academe, five from the legal profession (AG, Deputy AG) and five who were politicians (representative, senators, governors-Senator Clinton makes six); three from the military profession, one from corporate America, and one career diplomat.

There are 101 ways to become Secretary of State. One is to start as a career diplomat but that route is a long obstacle course, kinda bumpy and the outcome is not at all certain. Frankly, when you get to be “P” that’s probably as good as it gets in the career ladder. So take this route at your own risk.

The remaining 100 paths seem clear – crystal clear – kick-off that political campaign for town mayor, city council, school board, or whatever – anything that gets you on a ballot. I mean, you do have to start somewhere even if it is a tinsy winsy town — as long as it’s in America. Start somewhere …or elsewhere … as a journalist once sang at a Gridiron dinner (with music from “When I Was A Lad” by Gilbert and Sullivan – h/t to John Brown):

When I was a Stanford professor,
I tutored a certain Texas governor.
I showed him the countries on a great big map,
And I never scolded him when he made a gaffe.

Okay, there are other ways, too — but only those who knows the secret handshake are allowed to share. Speaking of songs, Lenore Skenazy has come out with The Year in Carols. The lead song is The Secretary of State Girl (to “The Little Drummer Boy”). A tad late news but when has the Secretary of State ever made it to the caroling collection?

Come, they told me, pa rum pum pum pum.
The prez-elect to see, pa rum pum pum pum.
He ran a perfect race, pa rum pum pum pum.

One for the Huh? News – From India With Love

PTI News dateline Jan 10 New Delhi has this piece on President Bush’s man in India doing his contribution to the Legacy Project, plus his take on how to deal with the foreign policy conundrum between India and Pakistan. His solution is quite simple: “the United States should not insert itself as the manager or the referee of the process.”

“Amid reports of the Barack Obama administration planning to appoint a special envoy for India and Pakistan, outgoing US Ambassador David C Mulford has said Washington should not “insert” itself as a “referee” between the two South Asian countries.

“I think the two sides (India and Pakistan) should be encouraged but the United States should not insert itself as the manager or the referee of the process,” Mulford told Karan Thapar in ‘Devil’s Advocate’ programme.

When referred to reports that a special envoy might be appointed by the incoming Obama administration, he said, “that issue is going to be addressed by other people. I don’t think that is going to happen”.

He, however, said, “I think the foreign policy which has encouraged both the sides to talk without inserting United States in the middle has been the right thing to do. The Bush approach has been successful. It has produced good results.” The Ambassador’s comments came in the midst of reports that the next US administration may appoint former diplomat Richard C Holbrooke as a special envoy for India and Pakistan.


Wait, wait – if the U.S. is not a player and should not be a manager or a referee, then the U.S. should be what – a cheerleader?!?

Oh, why would he say something like that? I hate it when folks deviate from the program because it messes up with the folders in my brain. The State Department/USAID Strategic Plan for FY 2007-2012 states under Strategic Goal #1: conflict prevention, mitigation, and response:

We will support conflict mitigation, peace, reconciliation, and justice processes. Our diplomatic and development activities will reduce the threat or impact of violent conflict by developing early warning, crisis response planning and management, and rapid response capability. Peace, reconciliation, and justice processes will stress opportunities to bring together opposing parties, support negotiation processes, promote indigenous peace building efforts, and support appropriate processes to hold accountable perpetrators of mass atrocities. We will emphasize regional solutions to regional problems and sustainable, long-term strategies to address complex challenges.

Can you really do all that by being on the sideline, as a cheerleader? Is it possible to emphasize regional solutions to regional problems by staying on the sidelines and shouting “you go guys! just don’t fire your nukes at each other?” I’m going to be walking around confused for the next 168 hours, doggone it!

I don’t know how many people have this report in their reading list, but can we at least get our ambassadors, especially our non career ambos have this in their mandatory reading list before they conduct diplomatic stuff? Oops, forget I said that. A new strategic plan for 2009-2012 is probably in order. That one should be required reading.