The government of Peru has declared a state of emergency for 60 days in two southeast provinces due to heavy rains. The region has suffered flash floods, landslides and flooding that have closed roads, bridges and railines. The airport in Cusco is operating sporadically.This measure covers the provinces of Cusco and Apurimac, and their towns of Calca, Cusco City, Urubamba, Canchis Quispicanchi, Anta and the Convention. Included in affected areas are Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu Pueblo.The U.S. Embassy has sent field teams to Aguas Calientes, where many tourists are stranded; to Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley, where tourists who are being evacuated from the area of Machu Picchu are arriving; and to Cusco, to assist American citizens who are stranded there. The road from Ollantaytambo to Cusco is open and transportation is being provided to the evacuees. American citizens may wish to contact the US consular agency located at Avenida Pardo #845, in Cusco.The Embassy is attempting to send helicopters to Aguas Calientes, at the base of the Machu Picchu ruins, to assist in removing American citizens, and in support of Peruvian Government assistance operations. Delays resulting from the rains, high altitude and fuel shortages may hamper air operations.
Gordon Duguid, acting Deputy Spokesman for the State Department is presently serving with the Haiti Joint Information Center (HJIC) in Port-au-Prince. He recently pens “On the Ground in Port-au-Prince” for DipNote. Excerpt below:
Our consular officers are working 20-hour days to provide assistance to those who are entitled based on legal or humanitarian grounds. Their work is not only exhausting, but heartbreaking. Many people have compelling stories about why they should travel to the United States, but not all are allowed under U.S. law. And because we have so many people in line, it is difficult to render service to those who are entitled to it while sorting through those who are just hoping we will let them travel. For example, there was an American citizen child in the line today suffering from a swollen brain and very ill. He was being cared for by a French woman and a Haitian man. Had they had to wait in line like all the rest to get to the consular section, the child might have been endangered. I just happened to be giving an interview near the spot where they were standing, and the TV producer saw the child and pointed him out. We then got the child and woman on the next flight out.
Frustrations in the line are high. All day today, the press section has been broadcasting public affairs messages via Haitian radio explaining who we can help and who we can’t. We are now planning more aggressive information campaigns to convince people to come only if they really are entitled to U.S. help. With the situation as it is now, we are really worried someone who survived the earthquake will be crushed on our doorstep.
The editor at large for The Daily Beast, Lloyd Grove, asks “Can This Man Outsmart the Taliban?” He is talking about – you guess it — former war correspondent David Ensor who is shipping out for his toughest assignment yet: helping the State Department win Afghan hearts and minds. The long article is here; quick excerpt below:
Ensor, who spent three decades in broadcast journalism (at National Public Radio, ABC and ultimately CNN) and then 3½ years as a London-based PR executive for an oil-trading company, will operate from the heavily fortified American compound in Kabul, and get around using armored vehicles with bullet-proof windows and teams of bodyguards. He has committed to at least a year in country, and will coordinate his efforts with those of two-star Rear Admiral Gregory J. Smith, the Pentagon’s top spokesman in Kabul, and report to U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, a former three-star Army general.
Ensor wasn’t the Obama administration’s first choice. Before he started discussing the position with State Department officials in November, it was offered to Asia Society executive vice president Jamie Metzl, a frequent visitor to Afghanistan and a longtime protégé of Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan. The 41-year-old Metzl—who has been a diplomat, a member of the National Security Council, a spy novelist and a congressional candidate—has spent a good deal of time in Afghanistan, serving as a monitor for last fall’s hotly disputed presidential election that is widely believed to have been rigged by the incumbent, Hamid Karzai. But Metzl passed when he and the State Department couldn’t come to terms on logistical issues, which I hear included the question of whether the post would carry ambassadorial rank. It doesn’t.[…]Ensor brings with him the street cred of a well-traveled foreign correspondent, who spent years reporting from Soviet bloc countries and the Middle East, covered wars in Chechnya and the Balkans, and boasts a deep and wide knowledge of America’s national security and intelligence institutions, especially the CIA. As a Washington correspondent for CNN during the Clinton and Bush administrations, he enjoyed top-level access to government officials, especially the longtime director of the National Security Agency, General Mike Hayden. His early career at NPR also gives him a background in radio, the key mode of mass communications in Afghanistan, and his years supervising the two dozen ABC News employees in the Warsaw bureau potentially lend him relevant management experience.[…]Why would he leave his comfortable life in London, to say nothing of his wife Anita and their two children, in order to put himself in harm’s way? A mixture of career restlessness, a desire to serve his country and simple curiosity, says Dobbs. “As a journalist, you always want to know what it’s like being on the inside.”Ensor, for now, is keeping his own counsel. “Thanks very much for your interest in my upcoming work in Kabul,” he emailed me on Sunday. “I am sorry but I am not prepared to discuss it yet. Perhaps we could talk after I have taken office, and spent a little time in Afghanistan.”
However, the embassy’s POL/MIL guy according to the latest listing is Phil Kosnett, a senior Foreign Service officer who served three tours in Iraq. The POL counselor is Annie Pforzheimer, who might be in the SFS, too although we can’t confirm it. So there’s still room for more former or current ambassador ranked officials to join the Kabul embassy team.
- David Ensor to US Embassy Kabul? | Dec 16, 2009
- US Embassy Iraq: 5 Years Later, Some Questions Answered | August 10, 2009
- That Unprecedented Title of Deputy Ambassador | March 30, 2009
- Coming Soon – Civilian Surge for Afghanistan? | March 18, 2009
Quickie: Kabul Green Zone Coming Up? May 18, 2009
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- U.S. Envisions a Continuing Civilian Presence in Afghanistan and Pakistan (nytimes.com)
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- Holbrooke: U.S. Will Back Taliban Reintegration (abcnews.go.com)
Caitlin Kelly for True/Slant has a piece on the male trailing spouse: I remembered I actually know a “trailing spouse” and asked if he’d be willing to share some of his life with us. I’m delighted that he agreed; his answers to my many questions are below.
On January 20, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Theodore Sedgwick to be US Ambassador to the Slovak Republic. The WH released the following bio:
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I’ve asked the FLO how the Foreign Service community can help and send support to Andrew Wyllie in this time of bereavement. I’m passing along the following information for those interested. I’ve requested and received permission from the family to release this information here:
Many of you have inquired about ways that you could help the Wyllie family during this extremely difficult time. In lieu of flowers, a financial gift would be greatly appreciated and would be put to good use in order to assist with the numerous expenses that will be incurred during the coming months and weeks.
The monetary gifts will be collected by Andy’s brother-in-law, on Andy’s behalf, and should be made payable and sent to:
6214 Duntley Place
Springfield, VA 22152
The memorial for Andy’s family will be this weekend in Washington, DC. Please contact Matt above for time and location.
As far as cards for Andy, you might direct those to: 8090 Winding Way Court, Springfield, VA 22153.
Updated 1/29 per request of the family.
The U.S. Joint Information Center – Haiti confirmed that following numbers on the locally employed staff at the US Embassy in Port au Prince are correct as of 1/27. USJIC-H also said that “We are working however to update those figures as we receive new information.”
The New York Times has posted online two Secret cables from Ambassador Eikenberry on the U.S. Strategy in Afghanistan.
In November 2009, Karl W. Eikenberry, the United States ambassador to Afghanistan and retired Army lieutenant general, sent two classified cables to his superiors in which he offered his assessment of the proposed U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. While the broad outlines of Mr. Eikenberry’s cables were leaked soon after he sent them, the complete cables, obtained recently by The New York Times, show just how strongly the current ambassador feels about President Hamid Karzai and the Afghan government, the state of its military, and the chances that a troop buildup will actually hurt the war effort by making the Karzai government too dependent on the United States. Related Article »
Hamid Karzai won the 2009 presidential election after his opponent Abdullah Abdullah withdrew from the run-off. He’ll be president of Afghanistan beyond the Obama Administration’s first term so they have to deal with him whether they like it or not. How effective a representative would Ambassador Eikenberry be after this?
Mother Jones has reported that the State Department just launched a probe on the Afghanistan leak. Read it here. The piece quoted the Department Spokesman saying, “My suspicion is that a copy of a copy or a copy of a copy of a copy found its way to the New York Times.” Aha! Whose copy … and how … and why? A NODIS cable with extremely limited distribution? Mother Jones also cited NYT for the “why” part. “According to the Times, the full versions of the memos were ultimately provided to the paper by an “American official” who believed Eikenberry’s assessment “was important for the historical record.”
Pleaze! I’m dense at times but not that dense. We have the FRUS (Foreign Relations of the U.S.) series for the historical record, folks! The “American official” seemed more interested in the “historical record” that he/she did not worry about how this makes life and work more difficult for our man in Kabul and the US Mission in Afghanistan? This is a firing offense.
On the Foreign Service loss:
QUESTION: Thank you. Thank you. And my second question is that employment opportunities for eligible family members overseas are an important factor in recruitment, retention, and post morale. Seventy-five percent of eligible family members have college degrees, of whom 50 percent have advanced degrees. Can you comment on the prospects for increasing eligible family member employment overseas and also address the possibility of increasing opportunities for employment through the use of teleworking?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, on the last one, teleworking, we are constantly exploring what more can be done. We think it has a lot of advantages. One that we have been promoting is more conferences by teleconference, SVTS, and the like. It saves money, it saves wear and tear, and it can often lead to the same or better outcome than you would get if people had to travel distances. On the teleworking side, similarly, we’re going to explore all kinds of options. I mean, technology gives us the chance to do that.
QUESTION: My name is Dorothy Burkette and I’m sort of coming behind Major Bruce in the sense that I am concerned that I’ve been here 11 years and I’ve never had a good supervisor. I’ve always had – (laughter).