Retired Army General John P. Abizaid to be U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

 

On November 13, the White House announced the president’s intent to nominate retired U.S. Army four-star General John P. Abizaid to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. The WH released the following brief bio:

John P. Abizaid of Nevada, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
General Abizaid currently serves as the first Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and works as a private consultant at JPA Associates. Previously, he held the Distinguished Chair of the Combating Terrorism Center at the United States Military Academy at West Point.  He has worked with the Preventative Defense Project at Stanford University and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.  General Abizaid began his career in the U.S. Army as an infantry platoon leader and rose to become a four-star general and the longest serving commander of United States Central Command.  He served as the Director of Strategic Plans and Policy on the Joint Staff and then Director of the Joint Staff among other leadership positions.  General Abizaid was a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and earned his M.A. in Middle Eastern Area Studies from Harvard University.  He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies.  General Abizaid is a recipient of the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Army Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, and the Bronze Star.

If confirmed, General Abizaid would succeed Joseph William Westphal (1948–) who was Ambassador to the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh from March 28, 2014–January 9, 2017.  Ambassador appointments to Saudi Arabia going back to the mid-1990’s have all been noncareer political appointees. The last career diplomat appointed as Ambassador to Saudi Arabia was Charles W. Freeman Jr. who served from 1990-1992 under George H. W. Bush.

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Career Diplomat Matthew Tueller to be U.S. Ambassador to Iraq

 

On November 7, the White House announced the president’s intent to nominate Ambassador Matthew H. Tueller to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Iraq. The WH released the following  brief bio:

Matthew H. Tueller of Utah, to be to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Iraq.

Ambassador Tueller, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, rank of Minister-Counselor, is currently United States Ambassador to Yemen. Previously, he served as United States Ambassador to Kuwait, Deputy Chief of Mission at  United States Embassy Cairo, Political Minister Counselor at United States  Embassy Baghdad, Deputy Chief of Mission at  United States Embassy Kuwait, Counselor for Political Affairs at  United States Embassy Riyadh, and Deputy Director for the Office of Northern Gulf Affairs in the Department of State.  Ambassador Tueller received his B.A. from Brigham Young University and his M.P.P. from Harvard University. He is the recipient of the CIA Director’s Seal Award, two Presidential Meritorious Honor Awards, and the Department of State’s Baker-Wilkins Award for Outstanding Deputy Chief of Mission.  Ambassador Tueller is fluent in Arabic.

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Career Diplomat Kate Marie Byrnes to be U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia

 

On November 7, the White House announced the president’s intent to nominate career diplomat Kate Marie Byrnes to be the U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia. The WH released the following brief bio:

Kate Marie Byrnes of Florida, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Macedonia.

Ms. Byrnes, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, currently serves as the Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States Embassy Athens, Greece. Previously, she was the Deputy Chief of Mission and Deputy United States Permanent Representative at the United States Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Vienna, Austria.   During her career, she has served as Public Affairs Counselor at the United States Embassy Madrid Spain, Department of State Senior Civilian Representative to Task Force Bastogne/Bronco, Jalalabad Airfield, Afghanistan, and the Public Affairs Advisor to the United States Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Brussels, Belgium.  Ms. Byrnes earned B.S. and M.A. degrees from Georgetown University. She is also the recipient of the Secretary’s Expeditionary Service Award and the United States Army Meritorious Civilian Service Award.  Ms. Byrnes speaks Spanish, Hungarian and Turkish.

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Republican Lawyer Arthur B. Culvahouse, Jr to be U.S. Ambassador to Australia

 

On November 5, the White House announced the president’s intent to nominate Arthur B. Culvahouse Jr., to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Australia. The WH released the following brief bio:

Arthur B. Culvahouse, Jr., of Tennessee, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Commonwealth of Australia.

Mr. Culvahouse is Chair Emeritus and Of Counsel to O’Melveny & Myers LLP, an international law firm.  Previously, he served as Chair of the firm.  He started his career as Chief Legislative Assistant to Senator Howard H. Baker, Jr., and served as Counsel to the President of the United States from March 1987 through January 1989.  Mr. Culvahouse served on numerous boards and commissions, including the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, the Intelligence Oversight Board, the Nuclear Command and Control System Federal Advisory Committee, and the Supreme Court Fellows Commission.  He currently serves as a member of the Board of The Brookings Institution and the Board of the Howard H. Baker, Jr., Center for Public Policy.  Mr. Culvahouse earned a B.S. from the University of Tennessee and J.D. from the New York University School of Law.  In January 1989, President Reagan awarded Mr. Culvahouse the Presidential Citizens Medal, and, in December 1992, Secretary of Defense Cheney awarded him the Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service.

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Former Virginia Gov James Gilmore to be U.S. Ambassador to the OSCE

The White House announced the president’s intent to nominate James Gilmore, the former Governor of Virginia to be the next Ambassador to the OSCE. The WH released a brief bio:

James S. Gilmore of Virginia, to be the Representative of the United States to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe with the Rank of Ambassador.

Mr. Gilmore currently serves as President and CEO of American Opportunity Foundation. Previously, he served as Governor of Virginia, Attorney General of Virginia, and as Chairman of the Congressional Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction, a national panel established by Congress to assess Federal, State, and local government capabilities to respond to the consequences of a terrorist attack. Mr. Gilmore served in the United States Army for three years, where he was assigned to United States Army Intelligence in West Germany. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia and the University of Virginia School of Law. Mr. Gilmore is the recipient of the Air Force Exceptional Service Award and the Joint Service Commendation Medal for Service to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

 

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DHS PDAS John Barsa to be Asst Administrator for USAID/Latin America and the Caribbean

The WH announced the president’s intent to nominate John Barsa, currently with DHS to be the next USAID Assistant Administrator for Latin American and the Caribbean. The WH released the following brief bio:

John Barsa of Florida, to be an Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean).

Mr. Barsa currently serves as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Partnership and Engagement (DHS OPE).  Previously, he served as the Acting Assistant Secretary for OPE. Mr. Barsa served with the United States Army Reserves for nearly a decade and was a member of the 11th Special Forces Group and the 450th Civil Affairs Battalion. In the U.S. Congress, he worked for Representative Lincoln Diaz-Balart, focusing on foreign policy and national security issues.  During the Bush Administration, Mr. Barsa served in external engagement roles within the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Department of Homeland Security. He is a graduate of Florida International University and is a native Spanish speaker.

Reax:

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Trump to Nominate Ohio Businessman Edward Crawford to be Ambassador to Ireland

On October 22, the White House announced the President’s intent to nominate Ohio businessman Edward F. Crawford to be the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland. The WH released the following brief bio:

Edward F. Crawford of Ohio, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Ireland.

Mr. Crawford currently serves as Chairman and CEO of The Edward Crawford Group and Park-Ohio Industries, Inc.  He is the recipient of the Northeast Ohio Business Hall of Fame Entrepreneurial Award, Small Business News Master Innovator Award, Ernst & Young Northeast Ohio Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and the Small Business Administration Man of the Year-Ohio Award.  He served in the Specialist Aviation Company, 107th Armored Cavalry, Army National Guard, and attended John Carroll University.

More details from the Mayo Society of Greater Cleveland here: https://clevelandmayosociety.org/edward-f-crawford/

If confirmed, he would succeed another political appointee Kevin F. O’Malley who served from  2014-2017.  Career diplomat Reece Smyth who was assigned as Deputy Chief of Mission to Dublin in 2016 assumed duties as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim at the U.S. Embassy on January 20th, 2017 after the departure of Ambassador O’Malley.

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Trump to Nominate Retired Air Force General David Stilwell to be Asst Secretary For East Asian & Pacific Affairs

On October 17, the WH announced the President’s intent to nominate Air Force veteran David Stilwell to be the next Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs (EAP). The WH released the following brief bio:

David Stilwell of Hawaii, to be an Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the Department of State.

Mr. Stilwell is an Air Force veteran with more than 35 years of experience as a pilot, commander, and Korean linguist. He retired in 2015 with the rank of Brigadier General. Currently, Mr. Stilwell is the Director of the China Strategic Focus Group at the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Headquarters in Hawaii and an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the East West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. Previously, he served as Staff Officer for Joint Staff Plans and Policy (Asia) at the Pentagon and Defense Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. Mr. Stillwell earned his B.S. from the U.S. Air Force Academy, and M.A. degrees from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, U.S. Air Command and Staff College, and the U.S. Army War College. He is the recipient of the Department of Defense Superior Service Award and speaks Korean, Chinese, and limited Japanese.

In December 2017, WH nominated career diplomat Susan Thorton to be A/S for EAP (see Career Diplomat Susan A. Thornton to be Asst Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (EAP)). Her nomination became one more casualty of politics, particularly following the departure of former Secretary Tillerson. In July this year, she announced her retirement after a 27-year career with the U.S. Foreign Service (see Former State Department diplomat settles on historic Maine farm).

If confirmed, General Stilwell would succeed Daniel R. Russel who served from 2013 to 2017. Other prior appointees to this position include Winston Lord (1993–1997); Paul D. Wolfowitz (1982–1986); Richard Charles Albert Holbrooke (1977–1981); William Averell Harriman (1961–1963), and David Dean Rusk (1950–1951) to name a few.

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Trump to Nominate Career Diplomat Mary Catherine Phee to be Ambassador to Qatar

On October 17, the WH announced the President’s intent to nominate career diplomat and former ambassador to South Sudan Mary Catherine Phee as the next U.S. Ambassador to Qatar. The WH released the following brief bio:

Mary Catherine Phee of Illinois, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the State of Qatar.

Ms. Phee, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, currently serves as the Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation at the Department of State. Previously, she served as Ambassador to the Republic of South Sudan, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, and Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Additionally, she served on the National Security Council as Director for Iraq and was the Senior Civilian Representative of the Coalition Provisional Authority to Maysan Province, al-Amarah, Iraq. Ms. Phee earned her B.A. from Indiana University and M.A.L.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. She is the recipient the State Department’s Robert C. Frasure Memorial Award and the Baker-Wilkins Award for Outstanding Deputy Chief of Mission. She also received the Secretary of Defense Meritorious Civilian Service Award and the Order of the British Empire. Ms. Phee speaks Arabic.

If confirmed, this would be Ambassador Phee’s second ambassadorial appointment. She was appointed and confirmed U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan in 2015.  She would succeed career diplomat Dana Shell Smith (1970–) who served as chief of mission to the US Embassy in Doha from 2014-2017.

Since 1960 when AFSA started tracking ambassadorial appointments, the U.S. Ambassador to Qatar appointees have been largely career diplomats. Only two appointees (Joseph Ghougassian (1944–) and Chase Untermeyer (1946–)) were political appointees.

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Trump to Nominate PayPal Co-Founder Ken Howery to be Ambassador to Sweden

The WH announced the President’s intent to nominate venture capitalist and PaPal co-founder Kenneth Howery to be his ambassador to Sweden. The WH release a brief bio:

Kenneth A. Howery of Texas, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Sweden.

Mr. Howery is a venture capitalist and entrepreneur specializing in creating and funding technology companies. He is a co-founder of and partner at Founders Fund, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm. Prior to Founders Fund, Mr. Howery co-founded PayPal, where he served as the company’s first Chief Financial Officer. Additionally, he is a founding advisor to Kiva.org, a non-profit group that helps develop the next generation of global entrepreneurs. Mr. Howery earned his B.A. in Economics from Stanford University.

His official bio from the Founders Fund is here. You might also want to check out this 2016 piece from Ivy Magazine, Behind the Scenes With PayPal Co-Founder Ken Howery.

If confirmed, Mr. Howery would succeed banker and philanthropist, Azita Raji who served as chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy Stockholm from March 2016 to January 2017. Previous appointees to the U.S. Embassy in Sweden includes lawyer, Mark Brzezinski and business executive, Matthew Barzun.  According to AFSA’s tracker, only three ambassadors appointed as chief of mission to Sweden had been career diplomats; 83.3% of ambassadors appointed to Stockholm (15 in actual number) since 1960 were non-career appointees.