Who Will be Secretary of State in January 2017? Giuliani and Bolton Reported as Front Runners

Posted: 3:31 am ET
Updated: 12:13 pm PT
Updated: 2:57 pm PT
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Updated: 2:57 pm | Media reports now say that the front-runners for the SecState job are former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former UN Ambassador John Bolton. Also included in the rumor mill is Richard Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations who served under the Bush Administration. Given that Giuliani was one of the president-elect’s most aggressive surrogate during the campaign, it is conceivable that he will get this job if he wants it. But since no announcement has been made yet … we’ll continue hearing updates on who is  favored, or “being vetted” or who is “close” to being named 69th Secretary of State.

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We previously blogged about the names floated around as the next Secretary of State. In October, career diplomat Bill Burns was the prediction market’s favorite (see Who will be Secretary of State on Jan. 31, 2017?).  As of this writing, the former UN Ambassador John Bolton is running at $0.53 cents in the prediction market, way ahead of SFRC’s Senator Bob Corker and former House Speaker New Gingrich.

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There may be a good reason for it.  It looks like Newt Gingrich has taken himself out of the running:

The New York Times has a short-list of  other possibles including Zalmay Khalilzad, a former ambassador to Afghanistan,  and retired General Stanley McChrystal.

We don’t know who will eventually end up in Foggy Bottom, but here is former Ambassador John Bolton in an interview with Hugh Hewitt back in August 2016, who endorsed the former for the cabinet position with then candidate Trump.

On November 12, the National Review writes that “none is better suited to the job than former U.N. ambassador John Bolton.”

Bolton has been around the block—starting his career as a protégé of James A. Baker III—but has never become an establishmentarian or lost his edge. He would understand that he is the president’s emissary to the State Department, not the other way around, and avoid getting captured by Foggy Bottom’s bureaucrats the way, say, a Colin Powell did, or others with less experience likely would.

The National Review editorial went all in and writes that “John Bolton is an ideal pick, and his appointment would be a sign that the Trump administration intends to get off to a strong start.” 

Random person online says,”He will make heads explode!” In Washington DC and Turtle Bay. So apparently, that is a potential attraction at the Internets near you.

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Taliban Attacks German Consulate, Building Previously Abandoned by USG For Being “Too Dangerous”

Posted: 2:04 am ET
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In December 2009, the US Embassy in Kabul announced that Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry and the Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta, signed a new agreement under which the United States would lease an historic 1930’s hotel in Mazar-e-Sharif for use as the new U.S. Consulate. At that time, the United States has agreed to invest approximately $26 million to renovate the Mazar Hotel facility so that it may be used as an office building and housing for consulate employees (see US Consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif Moving Forward and DIY Home Renovation Opportunity in Mazar-e-Sharif.

After signing a 10-year lease and spending eventually more than $80 million on a site envisioned as the United States’ diplomatic hub in northern Afghanistan, American officials were reported to have abandoned their plans, deeming the location for the proposed compound too dangerous according to WaPo in May 2012. The WaPo report cited an internal memo written by Martin Kelly, then acting management counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul saying that the facility was far from ideal from the start:

The compound, which housed a hotel when the Americans took it on, shared a wall with local shopkeepers. The space between the outer perimeter wall and buildings inside — a distance known as “setback” in war zone construction — was not up to U.S. diplomatic standards set by the State Department’s Overseas Security Policy Board. The complex was surrounded by several tall buildings from which an attack could easily be launched.[…] Responding effectively to an emergency at the consulate would be next to impossible, Kelly noted, because the facility does not have space for a Black Hawk helicopter to land. It would take a military emergency response team 11 / 2 to 2 hours to reach the site “under good conditions,” he said.”

Also this:

In December (2011), embassy officials began exploring alternative short-term sites for their diplomatic staff in northern Afghanistan. A Western diplomat familiar with the situation said the United States has sought, so far in vain, to persuade the German and Swedish governments to sublet it. The diplomat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the matter, said European diplomats have found the prospect laughable.”

Read more US Consulate Mazar-e-Sharif: $80 Million and Wishful Thinking Down the Drain, and Not a Brake Too Soon.

In June 2013, the German Consulate opened at the old Mazar Hotel in Mazar-e-Sharif.

Last Thursday, a suicide bomber rammed a truck into the German Consulate in Mazar, killing at least six civilians and wounding 120.  The Telegraph reported that Afghan special forces have cordoned off the consulate, previously well-known as Mazar Hotel, as helicopters flew over the site and ambulances with wailing sirens rushed to the area after the explosion. On November 12, the US Embassy in Kabul announced that it will be closed for routine services on Sunday, November 13 as a temporary precautionary measure.

We don’t as yet know if this property with a 10-year USG leased was sublet by the German Government or purchased by the Germans from its owners. We will update if we know more. There were local casualties but there were no reported casualties for German consulate workers. We understand that this was a reasonably secure building after all the fit-out and upgrade work was done prior to the USG suspending the project in 2012 but that the site is hemmed in by other structures and too close to high-traffic venues like the Blue Mosque. Then Ambassador Ryan Crocker decided that the location was too risky when he arrived in Afghanistan and so the USG abandoned this building.

And the Ambassadorship Race Is On: Ivana Wants the Czech Republic

Posted: 1:43 am ET
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