@SecPompeo Announces Withdrawal of All US Personnel From Venezuela, Also Who Needs the Next Curveball?

 

In a most worrisome development, Secretary Pompeo announced the withdrawal of all remaining  personnel from US Embassy Caracas in Venezuela. The announcement cites  the “deteriorating situation” and the staff’s presence becoming “a constraint on U.S. policy” as the reasons for the withdrawal.

When the secretary of state calls his own diplomats’ presence “a constraint” — as in a limitation, a hindrance, an impediment — on U.S. policy specific to a particular country, what does that tell you? That the talking is done? What comes after all talks are done, or in this case, after all tweets were sent?

And when the secretary of state announces the evacuation of all remaining personnel from the embassy, what signal is he sending Maduro? How will Maduro respond? We don’t know about you, but we’re worried; why announce this evacuation prior to it actually happening? What arrangements are being made for private Americans still in Venezuela?

Then there’s this, of course, which shows a willingness to assign blame because it was convenient and easy. This was also the week when #miltaryintervention was briefly trending on Twitter. It looks like that’s about to get loud again.

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At the @StateDept’s International Women of Courage Awards, a Regrettable Lack of Courage

Published 12:15 am EDT

 

Secretary Pompeo (Mar. 7  – Excerpt):

Women of courage exist everywhere. Most will never be honored. They face different challenges, but challenges that still matters. I’ve personally, of course, had this experience as well. I’ve witnessed women service in my time in the military and have been inspired by them in my personal life. My mother, too, was a woman of courage. She was born in rural Kansas. She helped make ends meet while raising three kids. She never managed to get to college, but made sure that each of us had enormous opportunity. You all know women like this. They’re strong. She was dedicated to providing opportunity for me and my siblings, and we didn’t appreciate the sacrifices that she had endured. And she also raised me to be really smart; I met another courageous woman, Susan, my wife, who’s here with me today. (Laughter and applause.)

We all know – I know – from a lifetime of experience that women of courage exist everywhere and they’re needed everywhere. That’s one reason I’ve appointed women to dozens of senior leadership roles here at the place I am privileged to work. From under secretaries to assistant secretaries to non-career ambassadorships, we know here we can’t succeed without empowering women worldwide, and that means we need to make sure that we have women empowered at our department worldwide.

And now it’s my honor to welcome our distinguished guest speaker today, a woman of incredible power and courage, a woman who has been a powerful advocate in her own right. Since becoming First Lady, she’s been increasingly outspoken against the enslavement of human trafficking and sexual abuse of women and girls all around the globe. I know she will continue to be an influential leader, an influential voice who inspires future women leaders like herself all around the world. Please join me in welcoming the First Lady of the United States of America, Melania Trump. (Applause.)  Full Text»

Wow, okay, can somebody please tell the secretary of state that he needs better speechwriters, pronto?!

Also you’ve probably seen the news already about the rescinded award for Finnish journalist Jessikka Aro.  FP reported:

“…the State Department spokesperson said in an email that Aro was “incorrectly notified” that she had been chosen for the award and that it was a mistake that resulted from “a lack of coordination in communications with candidates and our embassies.” “We regret this error. We admire Ms. Aro’s achievements as a journalist, which were the basis of U.S. Embassy Helsinki’s nomination,” the spokesperson said.
[…]
To U.S. officials who spoke to FP, the incident underscores how skittish some officials—career and political alike—have become over government dealings with vocal critics of a notoriously thin-skinned president.
[…]
In the minds of some diplomats, this has created an atmosphere where lower-level officials self-censor dealings with critics of the administration abroad, even without senior officials weighing in.

Our understanding is that posts who submit  nominations for this award are typically required to affirm that they had thoroughly vetted their candidates,  including social media.  The nominations do not happen in secret. Posts actually have to tell their candidates that they’re being nominated otherwise they may not be available when the award is handed out. Posts also have to tell their candidates when they are not selected.

It is likely that we won’t now exactly what happened here until we get to the oral history part many years down the road.

For now, we’re just watching out on who will throw those unnamed lower level officials under the bus, then run them over some more until you see the tire tracks on their souls?

AFSA Announces 2019-2021 Governing Board Candidates and Proposed Bylaw Amendments

Posted: 12:02 am EDT

 

Via AFSA:  The AFSA Committee on Elections has approved the following candidates for positions on the ballot for the AFSA Governing Board for the 2019-2021 term. All regular voting members of AFSA who are in good standing as of March 28, 2019 will receive, by email or mail, a ballot, the candidates’ campaign statements, the text of the proposed AFSA Bylaw Amendments, their rationale, and any opposition to the proposals, on or about April 29, 2019. Members can also view the proposed bylaw amendments online here.

Completed ballots must be received by 8:00 a.m. EDT on June 12, 2019, in order to be counted. The new AFSA Governing Board will take office on July 15, 2019.

All AFSA positions are uncontested except the State Department Representatives where there are eight candidates running for six slots, Retiree VP where there are two candidates, and Retired Member Representatives where there are three candidates for two slots. AFSA notes that no eligible candidates came forward for the positions of USAID Vice President, FAS Vice President, FCS Alternate Representative, FAS Alternate Representative and APHIS Representative.

Current State VP Kenneth Kero-Mentz is running as AFSA secretary, current Retiree VP John K. Naland is running for reelection, current State Representatives Don Jacobson and Lillian Wahl-Tuco are also running for reelections.

2019 Governing Board Candidates

Nominee Position
Eric Rubin * President
Kenneth Kero-Mentz Secretary
Virginia L. Bennett * Treasurer
Thomas Yazdgerdi * State VP
John K. Naland Retiree VP
John O’Keefe* Retiree VP
Jay Carreiro FCS VP
Joshua Archibald* State Rep
Matthew Dolbow State Rep
Don Jacobson * State Rep
Holly Kirking Loomis * State Rep
Kristin Roberts * State Rep
Katheryne ‘Kate’ Schilling State Rep
Lillian Wahl-Tuco * State Rep
Tamir Waser * State Rep
Abinet Belachew USAID Rep
Steven L. Herman USAGM Rep
Mary Daly * Retiree Rep
Hilary Olsin-Windecker Retiree Rep
Phillip A. Shull* Retiree Rep

* Member of the Strong Diplomacy slate

A Town Hall meeting has been set for Tuesday, April 2, at 12:00 p.m. in the first floor conference room at the AFSA HQ building, 2101 E Street, NW Washington DC 20037. This event will be taped and available on the AFSA YouTube channel. The candidates’ statements will be posted on the AFSA website on April 1, 2019. Visit the elections webpage to view.

If you have not already done so, please ensure AFSA has your current email and mailing addresses on record. To update your address information, send an email to member@afsa.org.

 

Amb Philip Reeker to Return to @StateDept as EUR’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary

Posted: 12:01 am EDT

 

Via @StateDept deputy spox:

“We are delighted to welcome back Ambassador Philip Reeker to Washington later this month. On March 18th, he will become the principal deputy assistant secretary and acting assistant secretary of the Department of State’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. Now, Ambassador Reeker is a career Foreign Service officer who’s currently the civilian deputy commander at the U.S. European Command in Stuttgart. He’s previously served as the consul general in Milan; as the deputy assistant secretary for the Balkans, Central Europe, as well as Holocaust issues; as the United States ambassador to what is now North Macedonia; and – the only blight on his entire professional career – he was previously the department’s deputy spokesperson.”

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