Officially Back: Marc Grossman, Our New Man in Af/Pak

US Under Secretary Marc Grossman meets with Fo...Image via WikipediaAs expected, Secretary Clinton, during the launch of the Asia Society’s Series of Richard C. Holbrooke Memorial Addresses made an official announcement on the new Special Representative for Af/Pak. No other than the much rumored Marc Grossman, a retired American diplomat with almost three decades of experience with the State Department.  Ambassador Grossman was Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (2001-2005), Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (1997-2000) and U.S. Ambassador to Turkey (1994-1997)

Until this appointment, he was also the Vice Chairman of The Cohen Group (TCG), a group put together by former SecDef William Cohen “to provide enterprises large and small the help they need to compete and succeed in the global market place.”

Below an excerpt from his TCG bio: Read the full entry here. Try not to blink when you see the names of other members of TCG team:

A native of Los Angeles, California, Ambassador Grossman graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara and later received an MSc. in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science. As a result of his outstanding service to his country, Ambassador Grossman is the recipient of numerous honors and awards. He attained the Foreign Service’s highest rank in 2004 when the President appointed him to the rank of Career Ambassador; he received the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award the following year.

Here is Secretary Clinton during the launch of the Asia Society’s Series of Richard C. Holbrooke Memorial Addresses in New York on February 18, 2011:

As promised, we are launching a diplomatic surge to move this conflict toward a political outcome that shatters the alliance between the Taliban and al-Qaida, ends the insurgency, and helps to produce not only a more stable Afghanistan but a more stable region.

Now, of course, we had always envisioned Richard Holbrooke leading this effort. He was an architect of our integrated military-civilian-diplomatic strategy, and we feel his loss so keenly.

But Richard left us a solid foundation. Over the past two years, he built an exceptional team and a strong working relationships with our allies and regional partners.

And today, I am pleased to announce that the President and I have called back to service Ambassador Marc Grossman, a veteran diplomat and one of Richard’s most esteemed colleagues, as our new Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Ambassador Grossman’s first tour in the Foreign Service was in Pakistan. He knows our allies and understands how to mobilize common action to meet shared challenges. He played a crucial role in the Dayton talks, and Richard described him in a memorable book that Richard wrote as “one of the most outstanding career diplomats.” Ambassador Grossman has followed in Richard’s shoes before when he served as Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs in the ‘90s, and I am absolutely confident in his ability to hit the ground running.

Now, Ambassador Grossman and the rest of his interagency team will marshal the full range of our policy resources to support responsible, Afghan-led reconciliation that brings the conflict to a peaceful conclusion, and to actively engage with states in the region and the international community to advance that process.

As I said, important groundwork has already been laid, both by Richard and his team, and by the Afghans themselves.

Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty has an interesting item on this appointment:

Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute who specializes in national security and defense issues, says the administration first and foremost wanted someone with established diplomatic credentials.
“I’m not going to suggest that he’s the last choice they wanted to make either, but he is perhaps the fourth or fifth person they tried,” O’Hanlon adds. “And what that suggests is they wanted someone of a certain stature. All the names that we’ve seen floated were people who had been undersecretary or deputy secretary — not so much sort of the young, workhorse regional expert, but more the established, silver-haired diplomat — and that’s the personality type they went for.”

Senior administration officials confirmed to “The Washington Post” and “The New York Times” that among the candidates considered were Nicholas Burns, former undersecretary of state for political affairs under President George W. Bush; Strobe Talbott, former deputy assistant secretary of state under President Bill Clinton;  former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Frank Wisner; and former Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta.

O’Hanlon says Grossman has “probably as many [attributes for the job] as you’re going to find in any one person” and says his deep knowledge of how the State Department works is going to come in handy as he tries to integrate the various government bureaucracies that come into play in the White House’s Af-Pak strategy.
So why does he think Grossman said yes when others said no? “It’s exciting to be engaged in some of the most challenging and yet some of the most important foreign policy issues we face today, to be in a position of leadership on those issues,” he says.

“Given all the negatives, professionals like Grossman believe that they can make a positive difference and they’re willing to give it a shot.”

Grossman will get his shot as soon as the State Department finishes its background check.

Read the whole thing here.

It’ll be interesting to see who follows Ambassador Grossman to the Af/Pak interagency team.  When the late Richard Holbrooke put together his group, the then DCM at the US Embassy in Manila, Paul Jones (now US Ambassador to KL) was pulled into Af/Pak and became his number #2 and other guy at the SCA bureau. Ambassador Grossman had nearly 30 years with the State Department.  He worked with a good number of folks. Ambassador Ricciardone who is on a recess appointment in Ankara was previously Grossman’s DCM there. Another old Turkey hand, Scott Kilner, now Consul General in Istanbul was Grossman’s Econ Counselor in Ankara.

I’m sure we’ll see some new faces in that interagency team.

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