General Petraeus Takes Command in Kabul

ISAF Commander Gen. David Petraeus arrived at Kabul International Airport just after 6 p.m. today. He was accompanied by U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry and NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative to Afghanistan, Mark Sedwill.

Photo from US Embassy Kabul/Flickr

“General Petraeus, whose appointment was approved 99-0 by the Senate on Wednesday, took pains at his confirmation hearing on Tuesday to back a unified civilian and military effort. He noted then that he had telephoned Mr. Holbrooke and would rendezvous with Ambassador Eikenberry in Brussels, so the two could land in Kabul together.

“Holbrooke has been my wingman, to a great degree,” General Petraeus said in an interview. “We have had, and do have, a very good relationship.” That role, he said, will now fall to Ambassador Eikenberry.”

You may need to start bringing your own pencil to work soon …

Josh Rogin of The Cable writes that the House panel just slashed $4 billion from the State and foreign aid budget. Gosh, I can’t count…. is that 4 plus nine zeros?  That’s like … a lot of zeros, dude! 

Congresswoman Nita Lowey cites the following highlights of the bill:

  • The bill provides $8.864 billion for Diplomatic and Consular Programs at the State Department, $678 million below the President’s request, but $637 above the FY 2010 enacted level.
  • $1.41 billion is included for USAID’s Operating and Expenses Account to add 100 positions to USAID’s capacity in the field and reduce its dependency on the U.S. military to implement assistance programs.
  • To preserve and protect our environment and fight global climate change, this bill includes over $1.34 billion in bilateral and multilateral funds for clean energy, biodiversity, and climate change initiatives, which is $258 below the request.
  • The committee is aware of the bipartisan interest in increasing the size and strength of the Peace Corps and, despite significant budget constraints, provides the President’s budget request, $446 million, for the Peace Corps.

You probably know what’s coming.  There’ll be cuts all around except for I’AfPak posts. Folks will be asked to slash another 10-15% off their mission budget from the previous year. Do more with less as a mantra will be back with a vengeance (although I was never convinced it ever did go away). The good news is before too long, you’ll be able to do everything with nothing. Imagine that — especially for 4th of July gigs next year.

H/T to Josh for the chart showing which accounts got whacked:

FY2011 State Summary Table

Quickie: Diplomatic immunity makes news in London

Diplomatic Immunity (album)Image via Wikipedia

This one from the Guardian under an enticing headline “Diplomatic crime sprees: foreign embassy staff exempted from charges Officials and dependants in UK have got off scot-free from 78 charges due to diplomatic immunity.”  Excerpt:

Foreign embassy staff been exempted from a range of serious charges that in normal cases would have carried a penalty of at least 12 months in prison, according to figures released in parliament today.

Five diplomats have escaped shoplifting charges since 2005, including an official from the Gambian embassy caught last year, a staffer at the Cameroonian embassy in 2008, and one member of each of the Egyptian, Equatorial Guinean and Zambian embassies accused in 2005.

But perhaps the single biggest offender – albeit on less serious allegations – is the US, which has run up £3,821,880 in unpaid fines incurred in a seven-year diplomatic stand-off over the congestion charge.

There are 25,000 embassy staff and their dependants in the UK covered by diplomatic immunity: over the past five years there were 78 exemptions from serious charges.

One member from each of the Brazilian, German, US and Russian embassies were caught drink-driving but released without charge this year.

Diplomats or their dependants from Saudi Arabia and one from Sierra Leone were alleged to have been involved in human trafficking, and one from Saudi Arabia was accused of sexual assault.

A member of the Pakistan embassy was accused of threatening to kill, and one from Cameroon accused of neglect of a young person.

Embassy staff in London from more than 57 countries have clocked up £534,060 in unpaid parking tickets and minor traffic offences in 2009.

Read the whole thing here.

Ambassador Chris Hill to lead DU’s Korbel School

Josef Korbel School of International StudiesImage via Wikipedia

DENVER, PRNewswire-USNewswire/Christopher Hill, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, has been chosen to lead the University of Denver‘s Josef Korbel (Joseph core-BELL) School of International Studies, one of the top international studies schools in the world founded in 1964 by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s father. Hill’s appointment was announced today by DU Chancellor Robert Coombe.

Hill has served as the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq since 2009. He is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service with more than 30 years of service whose prior assignment was Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.  He has also served as Ambassador to the Republic of Korea.

In April 2009, Foreign Policy magazine released a survey in its March–April issue that ranked the Josef Korbel School’s professional master’s program among the top-20 Ph.D., master’s and undergraduate programs in the world.  In the master’s listing, the school tied for 12th with Yale University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and University of California-San Diego, and it ranked ahead of schools such as Stanford University and the University of Pittsburgh.

“We are delighted that Ambassador Hill will be joining the DU community as the new dean of the Josef Korbel School,” says Chancellor Coombe. “If one considers his tremendous experience and great success as a Foreign Service officer and diplomat, it’s apparent that this is just the sort of career for which we are educating our students at the Korbel School. He’s going to be a great dean.”

In 2005, Hill was selected to lead the U.S. delegation to the Six-Party Talks on the North Korean nuclear issue. Previously, he has served as U.S. Ambassador to Poland (2000-2004), Ambassador to the Republic of Macedonia (1996-1999) and Special Envoy to Kosovo (1998-1999).  He also served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Southeast European Affairs in the National Security Council.

Earlier in his Foreign Service career, Ambassador Hill served tours in Belgrade, Warsaw, Seoul and Tirana, and on the State Department’s Policy Planning staff and in the Department’s Operation Center. While on a fellowship with the American Political Science Association he served as a staff member for Congressman Stephen Solarz working on Eastern European issues.  He also served as the State Department’s Senior Country Officer for Poland.

Hill received the State Department’s Distinguished Service Award for his contributions as a member of the U.S. negotiating team in the Bosnia peace settlement and was a recipient of the Robert S. Frasure Award for Peace Negotiations for his work on the Kosovo crisis.  Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Hill served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon.

“I am delighted to be coming to the Korbel School this fall. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime to work with such talented faculty and staff and to do my part in providing the finest education possible for graduate and undergraduate students alike. I also look forward to being a member of the broader University of Denver community, and to contributing in any way I can to the friendly and scholarly atmosphere of this extraordinary center of learning,” Hill says.

Ambassador Hill graduated from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine with a B.A. in Economics.  He received a Master’s degree from the Naval War College in 1994.  He speaks Polish, Serbo-Croatian, and Macedonian. His appointment is effective Sept. 1.

The Korbel School has a number of distinguished alumni, including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey, Jr. and Heraldo Munoz, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General, United Nations Development Programme and Director for its Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean.