Posted: 3:11 pm PT
PredictIt is a real money site that tests your knowledge of political and financial events by letting you make and trade predictions on the future. The website says it is an educational purpose project of Victoria University, Wellington of New Zealand, a not-for-profit university, with support provided by Aristotle International, Inc., a U.S. provider of processing and verification services. It involves real money so the consequences of being wrong can be bad for your pocket.
One of its current contracts is Who will be Secretary of State on Jan. 31, 2017? Right now the prediction market is favoring career diplomat, William Burns as the next SecState with Wendy Sherman and John Kerry following at second and third place. The other names making the list is Senator Bob Corker, Senator Rob Portman, and Ron Paul.
The names above are not the only ones going around these days, take a look:
Posted: 8:01 pm EDT
Updated: March 14, 5:01 EDT
Also this —
And this —
And over in Foggy Bottom, Mr. Kirby got a grilling. A quick excerpt below. Click here to read the transcript of the entire briefing
QUESTION: Okay. You don’t think that people are confused about what U.S. foreign policy objectives are?
MR KIRBY: I – look, there are constant discussions we have every day with foreign leaders about what we’re trying to achieve. And I can’t – I’m not going to lie and say that there isn’t disagreement.
MR KIRBY: That people don’t necessarily see things the same way we do, or that people – that there’s some – maybe some leaders that want more information than maybe we’re willing or able to give them. I mean, obviously, we have an obligation as well. And I don’t know how much we’ve talked in this room about operational security in light of the – making all those emails public. We have an obligation to protect sensitive information, and that’s how you look after the American people.
But in general and in the main, the art of diplomacy and achieving foreign policy objectives is through conversation and dialogue and as much transparency as possible. And don’t sit here and tell me that this is not a transparent institution here at the State Department. I mean, we brief every single day. You are able to come in here every day and harangue and harass me, and I keep standing up here and taking it because that’s what we do. We are accountable to not just the American people, but to people all around the world for what we’re doing.
QUESTION: You – yes, you —
MR KIRBY: And we’re not afraid to answer these tough questions.
QUESTION: Well, when you answer the questions, though, you don’t often give substantive answers.
Posted: 12:01 am EDT
— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) May 4, 2015
Remembering and honoring all those who tragically lost their lives in the US Embassy attack in Nairobi in 1998 pic.twitter.com/RXgFpo5WLh
— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) May 3, 2015
— Domani Spero
Recently, the State Department officially rejected criticisms that too many top diplomatic jobs have gone to political appointees rather than to career foreign service officers. The spokesperson of the State Department, a former political operative and herself, a political appointee, reportedly told Yahoo News via email the following:
“There’s never been a secretary of state more personally connected to the Foreign Service than Secretary (John) Kerry. It’s in his blood. It’s stamped in his DNA. He’s the son of a foreign service officer,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki told Yahoo News by email.
“It’s no accident that he has worked with President (Barack) Obama to build a senior team with more foreign service officers in leading assistant secretary positions than at any time in recent memory, and no accident that he chose a foreign service officer to serve as the State Department’s Counselor for the first time in thirty years,” she added.
So, because we’re a tad obsessive, we wanted to find out if what Ms. Psaki told Yahoo News is actually true. If her “at any time in recent memory” includes only the the Clinton tenure, then sure, Secretary Kerry, indeed, appointed five
FSOs career employees (four FSOs and 1 Civil Service) out of seven assistant secretaries, which is two more than former Secretary Clinton who appointed three FSOs out of seven assistant secretary positions at the regional level. (WHA’s Roberta Jacobson is reportedly a CS employee; history.state.gov incorrectly lists her as a foreign service officer). *Corrected graphic below.
Secretary Rice under the second Bush term, appointed five FSOs and three political appointees as assistant secretaries at the geographic level. If we go back all the way to 2001 then, Secretary Kerry has appointed as many FSOs as Secretary Rice but not “more,” at least at the geographic level. If “recent memory” includes the appointments under the Clinton, Rice and Powell tenures, the spox’s claim would not fly.
We hope to look at the functional bureaus separately, time permitting; maybe that’s the appointment universe the spokesperson is talking about?
The Powell appointments at the geographic level are sort of weird. It looks like he inherited one A/S from the previous administration (C. David Welch) and that appointee continue to served until 2002. In all, stats from history.state.gov and Wikipedia indicates that Secretary Powell appointed three FSOs and seven non-career appointees to the seven geographic bureaus. AF, WHA and IO had two appointees each during the Bush first term.
We should note that if you’re a career FSO, the chance of getting an assistant secretary (A/S) position at the regional level is highest at Near Eastern Affairs (NEA), European Affairs (EUR), African Affairs (AF). Statistics compiled by AFSA from 1975 to-date indicates that 92.3% of all A/S appointments to the NEA bureau were career diplomats. That percentage of FSO A/S appointment is 75% for the EUR bureau and 58.3% for the African Affairs bureau.
However, if you’re a non-career political appointee, the chance of getting an assistant secretary position at the regional level is highest at International Organization (IO) and East Asia Pacific (EAP). Statistics compiled by AFSA from 1975 to-date indicates that 80% of all A/S appointments to the International Organization Affairs bureau went to non-career appointees. Ranked a distant second is EAP appointments at 57.1%. The A/S appointments for South Central Asia Affairs has been 50/50 according to the AFSA statistics.
* * *
Updated on 11/10/14 @ 8:52 am to correct listing of appointees during the Powell tenure and to clarify the total between FSOs and non career appointees.
@1531 added clarification that current WHA A/S is a career CS employee.
— Domani Spero
On September 3, the State Department held a symbolic groundbreaking ceremony for the new U.S. Diplomacy Center. The ceremony was hosted by Secretary Kerry and attended by his five predecessors, former Secretaries of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Madeleine K. Albright, Henry A. Kissinger, James A. Baker, III, and Colin L. Powell. Wait, somebody’s missing! What happened to Condoleezza Rice?
Whoops! We missed one more!
Via WaPo’s Dana Milbank:
Kerry likely forgot about the 93-year-old Shultz, who, though not in attendance, is still very much alive. Or perhaps Kerry was symbolically eliminating Condi Rice, also absent; she was, after all, a key adviser to the man who defeated him for the presidency in 2004.
The groundbreaking for the future U.S. Diplomacy Center began with a before-noon cocktail reception and ended with the six secretaries outside the 21st Street entrance to the State Department, each holding a silver spade embossed with the State emblem. They dug up about a tablespoon apiece of earth in the 90-degree heat and then were promptly relieved of their digging implements as they exited the construction site via a carpeted walkway. “They wouldn’t even let us keep the shovel,” groused Baker.
Of course not. Kerry had already eliminated one former secretary of state. They couldn’t afford to lose another.
— Matt Lee (@APDiploWriter) September 3, 2014
According to the State Department, the USDC (http://diplomacy.state.gov), is a state-of-the-art museum and education center that will dedicate 40,000 square feet “to bringing the story of American diplomacy to life.” This will be our country’s first museum and education center devoted exclusively to exploring the history, practice, and challenges of American diplomacy. The $25 million project is funded by private institutional and individual donors through the Diplomacy Center Foundation.
Last May, the State Department announced the contract for building the center:
The U.S. Department of State and the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) announced the award of a $25 million contract to begin construction of the U.S. Diplomacy Center—the nation’s first museum and education center devoted exclusively to exploring the history, practice, and challenges of U.S. Diplomacy. The project is privately funded with donations to build a 21st century, state-of-the-art glass pavilion that will become a new public entrance at the Department of State’s headquarters.
GSA will oversee construction and awarded the construction contract to Gilbane Building Company through an open and competitive process. The architectural firm of Beyer Blinder Belle provided the modern concept design. Construction is set to begin early summer 2014 and it will take 18 months to construct the U.S. Diplomacy Center.
Something else to look forward to in 2016!
* * *
- What 5 Former Secretaries of State Say About Worldwide Threats (abcnews.go.com)
- Digging diplomacy: Kerry, 5 predecessors at museum groundbreaking (cbsnews.com)
- Henry Kissinger loves joking about Hillary Clinton 2016 (cnn.com)
- Kerry hosts rare reunion of secretaries of state (dailymail.co.uk)
— Domani Spero
On September 2, Secretary Kerry sworn-in our Ambassador-Designate to the Russian Federation John Tefft at the State Department. Ambassador Tefft will succeed Michael McFaul who resigned from post in February 2014. This is Ambassador Tefft’s fourth ambassadorial appointment. All but three appointees to Moscow since 1960 have been career diplomats. (see also Attention Would-be Ambassadors! No One Is Getting Out of D.C. Tonight, Courtesy of Sen. Enzi — Opps! Wait …).
Below is the brief bio released by the WH when his nomination was announced:
John Francis Tefft, a career member of the Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, is the Executive Director of the RAND Business Leaders Forum at the RAND Corporation, a position he has held since 2013. Mr. Tefft served as the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine from 2009 to 2013 and as the U.S. Ambassador to Georgia from 2005 to 2009. From 2004 to 2005, Mr. Tefft served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs in the Department of State. From 2003 to 2004, Mr. Tefft served as an International Affairs Advisor at the National War College and previously served as the U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania from 2000 to 2003. From 1996 to 1999, Mr. Tefft was the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia. He was the Director of the Office of Northern European Affairs at the Department of State from 1992 to 1994. Mr. Tefft served as the Deputy Director of the Office of Soviet Union Affairs/Office of Commonwealth of Independent States from 1989 to 1992 and served as Counselor for Political-Military Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, Italy from 1986 to 1989. From 1983 to 1986, he was a Political Officer in the Office of Soviet Union Affairs. Mr. Tefft was a Pearson Fellow in the Office of Congressman Howard Wolpe from 1982 to 1983. Earlier in his career, Mr. Tefft was also a Political Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Budapest, Hungary; a Special Assistant in the Washington office of the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations; a Political Officer in the Office of United Nations Political Affairs; an Operations Officer in the Operations Center; and a Vice Consul at the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem.
Mr. Tefft served in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1971 to 1974. Mr. Tefft received a B.A. from Marquette University and an M.A. from Georgetown University.
* * *
- Madison native John Tefft named new US ambassador to Russia (host.madison.com)
- A Bogeyman In Russia, U.S. Envoy Appears Poised For Moscow Job (rferl.org)
- Senate confirms US ambassador to Russia (news.yahoo.com)
- Kremlin Approves John Tefft as U.S. Ambassador to Russia (themoscowtimes.com)
-08/09/14 U.S. Assistance to Burma; Office of the Spokesperson; Washington, DC
-08/09/14 U.S. Companies in Burma: Doing Business Responsibly; Office of the Spokesperson; Washington, DC
* * *
— Domani Spero
Secretary Kerry is in New Delhi for the 5th U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue,and is accompanied by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. Other members of the interagency trip include Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman, Department of Homeland Security Under Secretary Francis Taylor, and NASA Associate Administrator Michael O’Brien. The State Department’s does not have a Senate-confirmed assistant secretary for its Bureau of Energy Resources. Ambassador Carlos Pascual who announced he was stepping down as special envoy and coordinator for energy affairs has been succeeded by Amos Hochstein as acting special envoy and coordinator and Mr. Hochstein is accompanying Secretary Kerry to New Delhi.
Additional details of the trip available here.
- John Kerry arrives in Delhi to reboot Indo-US relations (dailymail.co.uk)
- Move ahead on trade: U.S. (thehindu.com)
- Kerry arrives in India to reboot ties with Modi (voiceofasiaonline.com)
- US Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in India for strategic dialogue (dnaindia.com)
- With bagful of admiration for Modi, John Kerry to arrive in India today (rediff.com)
- India must decide its role in global trade order: Kerry (rediff.com)
- Kerry leaves for India (indiavision.com)
— Domani Spero
KABUL, Afghanistan — Secretary of State John Kerry spent a second day here in the Afghan capital on Saturday shuttling between the top two presidential contenders and the presidential palace in an effort to forge an agreement on how to audit recent elections and preventAfghanistan’s first democratic transfer of power from collapsing.
The two candidates, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah and former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani, spent the day inside the United States Embassy building holding separate meetings with Mr. Kerry, according to campaign officials. Mr. Kerry then traveled to the palace to talk to President Hamid Karzai. Talks were continuing into early evening without food or drink because of Ramadan, for which Muslims fast during the day. Mr. Kerry complained, jokingly, to Mr. Karzai that his embassy had “starved” him, according to pool reports.
Here are some photos from his latest Kabul trip to broker an election dispute agreement between Abdullah and Ghani.
Embrace of Rivals
Harder than it looks
* * *
- Kerry Encourages Patience During Talks with Afghan Candidates (voanews.com)
- Kerry meeting again with Afghan candidates (kansas.com)
- Kerry Pushes For Audit Of Disputed Afghan Presidential Poll (npr.org)
- Amid effort to resolve runoff dispute, Kerry meeting again with Afghan presidential candidates (foxnews.com)
- Kerry Tackles Afghan Vote Standoff (online.wsj.com)
- Kerry meets again with Afghan presidential candidates (foxnews.com)
- John Kerry lands in Kabul hoping to resolve Afghan political impasse (theguardian.com)