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Advice to the Next Secretary of State: Stay Home #Tillerson

Posted: 1:13 am ET

 

Back in 2013, when Secretary Kerry was on his first trip overseas, D.B. Des Roches, an associate professor at the Near East South Asia Institute for Strategic Studies published a commentary about Secretary Kerry’s trip and the current ‘success’ metric.

Most recent secretaries have considered travel to be the measure of their terms. When Hillary Clinton returned to work from hospitalization, her staff gave her a football jersey with “112” on it – reflecting the number of countries she had visited. Republicans retorted that Condoleezza Rice still held the record for most miles logged.
[….]
This focus on secretary of state travel as a measure of dedication, efficiency and competence is dysfunctional. We should decide, as Mr. Kerry’s first trip (to Europe and the Middle East) gets underway, to abandon this harmful metric and evaluate diplomacy in a way that acknowledges its complexity.

Read more: Secretary of State Scorecard: Work Done Not Miles Flown, Please.

The writer made some excellent points, of course, and everybody paid attention.

Secretary Kerry has now traveled to 91 countries, logging in 1,395,606 miles, 588 travel days and 2,995.94 hours of total flight time as of this writing. It’s only a matter of time before somebody will have a compare/contrast infographic of the secretaries of state’s travel records from Kissinger to Kerry.

Recently, Gerald M. Fierstein — who was President Obama’s Ambassador to Yemen from 2010 to 2013 and who worked under Secretary Kerry until his retirement in 2016 — penned a similar piece urging the next secretary of state to well, “stay home.” Ambassador Fierstein also points to a most consequential cost when the secretary of state is often on the road.  Excerpt via Reuters:

As President Barack Obama’s tenure draws to a close, Washington is turning its attention to one of its silliest traditions: toting up the travel statistics of the outgoing secretary of state, as if miles traveled correlated to diplomatic achievement.

In his four years as secretary of state, John Kerry has thus far (he still has six weeks left) traveled over 1.3 million miles and spent 564 days – nearly one-third of his time as Secretary – on the road.  Although this easily surpasses Hillary Clinton’s 956,733 miles and 401 days, Kerry will not be able to match Mrs. Clinton’s record of 112 countries visited.  Alas, Mr. Kerry will only make it to 90 countries during his tenure.
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If this were simply a matter of the secretary undertaking quixotic missions with little to show for them, it would probably not be an issue worthy of much attention.  But there are costs to U.S. foreign policy interests that are imposed by the secretary’s frequent absences from Washington.

When the secretary is on the road, he is not at the table when the president makes decisions that directly affect foreign policy.  Equally, since other senior diplomats are frequently on the road, the State Department often does not have an equal voice with the other Cabinet departments in the National Security Council meetings. The net result is an imbalance between diplomatic options and military or intelligence community preferences.

Read in full below:

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Steve Coll on the Tillerson Pick Plus Excerpt From ‘Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power’

Posted: 1:11 am ET

 

Steve Coll writes in The New Yorker that Trump’s reported pick of Tillerson as Secretary of State is “astonishing on many levels.”

As an exercise of public diplomacy, it will certainly confirm the assumption of many people around the world that American power is best understood as a raw, neocolonial exercise in securing resources.
[…]
Compared to the records of some of the other people around Trump, Tillerson’s is at least one of professional integrity; Exxon is a ruthless and unusually aggressive corporation, but it is also rule-bound, has built up a relatively strong safety record, and has avoided problems such as prosecutions under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, even though it operates in many countries that are rife with corruption.
[…]
In his career at ExxonMobil, Tillerson has no doubt honed many of the day-to-day skills that a Secretary of State must exercise: absorbing complex political analysis, evaluating foreign leaders, attending ceremonial events, and negotiating with friends and adversaries. Tillerson is a devotee of Abraham Lincoln, so perhaps he has privately harbored the ambition to transform himself into a true statesman, on behalf of all Americans. Yet it is hard to imagine, after four decades at ExxonMobil and a decade leading the corporation, how Tillerson will suddenly develop respect and affection for the American diplomatic service he will now lead, or embrace a vision of America’s place in the world that promotes ideals for their own sake, emphatically privileging national interests over private ones.

Read in full here.  Steve Coll is the author of the book on ExxonMobil, excerpt below courtesy of Kindle Preview:

 

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Reactions to Trump’s Reported T. Rex Pick For the State Department #dazzleandwow

Posted: 12:52 am ET

 

On Sunday, the Trump Transition says that “ There will be no announcements on Secretary of State until next week at the earliest.”  Even as unnamed sources continue to tell members of the press that Tillerson is the pick, Reince Priebus who is slated to become President-elect Trump’s chief of staff cautioned that it’s a “little premature to be claiming” the secretary of state choice for the incoming Trump administration is a “done deal.”  So until the official announcement is made, which could happen tomorrow or on Friday or whenever is the season finale, it may still be open season for the secretary of state candidates.

The secretary of state nomination has to go through a confirmation hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC).  That’s a 10 GOP/9 Dems split. GOP Members include Senators Marco Rubio, Jeff Flake, and Rand Paul. If the nomination makes it out of the SFRC, it has to go through a full vote in the Senate. The 115th Congress includes 46 Democratic Senators, 2 Independents, and 52 Republican Senators.  A simple majority vote is required to get confirmation. So the Senators. Don’t forget them, particularly the Republican Senators. Makes one wonder if the leak on Tillerson as pick is a trial balloon to see what kind of reception the nomination is going to get, and what the potential confirmation fight might look like in the Senate. Also, add this to your SOS candidate trivia.  Rex Tillerson’s salary in 2015 is reportedly $27.2 million. The secretary of state’s annual salary in 2015 is $203,700.

Reactions to the potential Tillerson appointment:

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Trump Expected to Name Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State; ‘Stop Rex’ Petition Already Up

Posted: 12:08 pm PT
Updated: 1:15 pm PT

 

NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports that Donald Trump is expected to nominate Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state, citing two sources close to the transition process. The announcement is likely to happen next week, but the sources cautioned that nothing is final until the president-elect officially announces the pick.  As secretary of state, Tillerson would be fourth in line to the presidency. The report also says that Tillerson will be paired with former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton as his deputy secretary of state for day-to-day management of the department, one source added.

350.org, a movement focusing on the challenge of the climate crisis  called  Trump’s nominee Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection, a “Puppet of the fossil fuel industry.”  And it already has a petition online opposing the potential appointment of Rex Tillerson to the State Department: “This Cabinet pick might be one of the worst yet (and that’s saying something). Exxon is the largest oil company in the world. It has funded climate misinformation for decades and violated human rights across the planet. … If Exxon takes control of the State Department, they can undo all the climate progress we’ve made at the international level. They’ll be able to wield the Department as an arm of the fossil fuel industry, opening up new oil and gas development around the world and crushing dissent.”

After news broke that Tillerson is Trump’s pick, 350.org released a new “Stop Rex” campaign banner and a statement saying “Tillerson may be a friend of Putin’s, but he’s no friend of the planet” and promised to pressure “Senators to turn the confirmation process into a hearing on ExxonMobil’s history of climate deception.”

Here is a sobering read related to ExxonMobil, Tillerson and the Rockefeller Family Fund’s divestment from fossil fuels:

“[O]ur organization, the Rockefeller Family Fund (RFF), announced that it would divest its holdings in fossil fuel companies. We mean to do this gradually, but in a public statement we singled out ExxonMobil for immediate divestment because of its “morally reprehensible conduct.”1 For over a quarter-century the company tried to deceive policymakers and the public about the realities of climate change, protecting its profits at the cost of immense damage to life on this planet. Our criticism carries a certain historical irony. John D. Rockefeller founded Standard Oil, and ExxonMobil is Standard Oil’s largest direct descendant. In a sense we were turning against the company where most of the Rockefeller family’s wealth was created.”

Read more below. Click here for RFF’s divestment statement.

More clips to read:

Here are a couple of speeches Tillerson did at The Economic Club and CFR and a sit down with Charlie Rose:

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Former Ford CEO Alan Mulally For Secretary of State? Oh, Yes, Please! #dazzleandwow

Posted: 1:49 am ET

 

The search for the next secretary of state is now a 10-man race. We’re left wondering if we’re going to see candidates from each state of the union soon?  Here are the ten candidates on the short long list:

And then there’s news that former Ford CEO Alan Mulally is also under consideration for this top job in the Trump Administration. We suspect that President-elect Trump will not pick a career diplomat for the top job at Foggy Bottom. Given all the names that we’ve heard so far, we think this one is actually quite exciting. There’s a lot to like with this candidate, and without the baggage that shadows the rest of the other names under consideration.

Below is a clip of Alan Mulally, former president and chief executive officer of the Ford Motor Company, discussing the turnaround effort at Ford, which took the automaker from an annual loss of $17 billion in 2006 to its most profitable period in more than a decade. Under Mulally,  Ford was the only major American car manufacturer to avoid a bailout fund provided by the government in 2009.  His accomplishments  at Ford are chronicled in the book, An American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company by Bryce G. Hoffman, published in 2012.  In the video below, Mulally explains that leadership means serving with courage, having a point of view about the future and to pursue it in the face of resistance and doubt, in service of something great.  Towards the end of the video, he talks about being grilled by Congress after the auto bailout; he was a witness even if his company did not take money from the government. Via Stanford Graduate School of Business from 2011.

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69th Secretary of State Race: New Names Include Stavridis, Huntsman, Tillerson, Manchin #dazzle&wow

Posted: 12:58 ET

 

In addition to the new names floated today, Politico is reporting that “whoever ultimately gets the top job at the State Department, multiple Trump transition sources said former United Nations ambassador John Bolton is widely expected to be offered a chance to be slotted in as one of the secretary’s top deputies, if not as the No. 2.”  Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., is reportedly also likely to be offered a lower post in the State Department, according to unnamed Politico sources.  Also as has been reported previously, Giuliani has told the Trump team directly that he isn’t interested in any other job than secretary of state.  As of this writing, Predictit still has Romney leading the pack, followed by Huntsman, Giuliani, Corker, Bolton, Petraeus, Rohrabacher, Tillerson and Manchin.

Howaboutthisguy? He razzle dazzle, hey? This is pretty doable for the 8th Floor, right?

The Funnies, not funnies over on Twitter:

69th Secretary of State Watch: The Prediction Market, Who’s Up, Who’s Down? Who’s at Trump Tower?

Posted: 1:53 am ET

 

CBS News is reporting today that the “battle” to become President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of state appears to be down to three men: former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney and former CIA Director David Petraeus.  CBS News’ Major Garrett reported Tuesday morning that Giuliani is still the likeliest pick — but that as Mr. Trump meets with Romney over dinner in Midtown Manhattan tonight, it’s hard to discount Romney as a top pick as well.  “I’m told that Giuliani is still the leading candidate but this dinner with Romney tonight … does add to the atmospheric drama around this whole process,” Garrett said on CBSN.

These are exactly the top three names over at the prediction market with Romney leading at $0.41 now since we did the screen grab below, followed by Giuliani at $.0.26, and Petraeus at $0.12. 

Top tier names on predictit breaking above 1¢:

predictita

Lower tier names on predictit not breaking above 1¢:

predictitb

 

See the SoS predictit page here.

In any case, somebody apparently told Representative Dana Rorahbacher that he is under consideration as secretary of state. He released the following statement for folks who wanted to cast their votes over at the Breitbart News poll.

danar_soslist

Link to poll below where 146,450 people apparently voted on who should be the next secretary of state. They picked somebody else!

Meanwhile, Rudy, Rudy, Rudy, is still in the running.

And then, the Petraeus crashed Rudy’s party.

President-elect Trump also had dinner at a French restaurant with Mitt Romney and there’s a photo!  Somewhere is this photo is an invisible word cloud that says “GOTCHA!”  Looks like DJT is so tickled, he might just announced his secretary of state before the season finale.

Nooooo, it’s not Fabio.

And it’s not Mr. Large Wooden Stick. Stopit.

Da end. Until the next update.

 

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Previously

 

 

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

 

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.

Screen Shot

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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Familiar Names For Foggy Bottom in a Potential Clinton White House

Posted: 3:01 am ET

The names on who might be coming or coming back to Foggy Bottom in a Clinton Administration are not unexpected. Ambassador Wendy R. Sherman, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and Ambassador Nicholas Burns, also a former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs have been with her through the primary season. The two were part of a group of former top government officials who issued a joint statement raising questions about Senator Bernie Sanders’ proposals for countering ISIS and dealing with Iran. Probably the only surprising name in this round is James Stavridis, a retired U.S. Navy admiral and former Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) who is the current dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

Via Politico:

Secretary of State

For obvious reasons, this is seen as the job Clinton will think about most — potentially empowering the pick, or potentially leading to an extra level of oversight at Foggy Bottom from the West Wing. Clinton’s seen as being intrigued by having a person in the role who has experience in elected office, but there’s no obvious contender from the House and Senate (except for current Secretary of State John Kerry, whom people expect would leap at the chance to stay on, though probably would suffer from Clinton wanting to have her own pick in this job most of all). People at the State Department and elsewhere are pulling for Wendy Sherman, the former undersecretary of state for political affairs and a key player in the Iran nuclear deal, and Bill Burns, a career diplomat who was deputy secretary of state. Nick Burns is seen as being in the mix as well, a career foreign officer who rose to undersecretary of state for political affairs in Bush’s second term and has been a strong defender of Clinton in the campaign. Kurt Campbell, Clinton’s assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, has expressed interest to several people. Strobe Talbott, the friend of the Clintons and a deputy secretary of state during Bill Clinton’s first term and now the president of the Brookings Institute, is also seen as a possibility. Or Clinton might go for a surprise like James Stavridis, the admiral who was the only nonpolitician to be vetted for her running mate.

Would be interesting to see who might be coming to Foggy Bottom in a potential Trump administration. GOP national security folks, all 121 of them, recently published an open letter  saying “… we are united in our opposition to a Donald Trump presidency.”

The letter was coordinated by Dr. Eliot A. Cohen, former Counselor of the Department of State (2007–8) under Secretary Rice, and Bryan McGrath, Managing Director of The FerryBridge Group, a defense consultancy. Lots of familiar names. All saying, “as committed and loyal Republicans, we are unable to support a Party ticket with Mr. Trump at its head. We commit ourselves to working energetically to prevent the election of someone so utterly unfitted to the office.”  These folks have effectively ruled themselves out from working in a Trump Administration.  Which begs the question, who are still left in the tent?

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President Obama Nominates John Kerry as 68th Secretary of State

“We do not want to concertina-wire America off from the world”

–  Senator John Kerry

kerry bio-collage

President Obama:

….I’m looking ahead to my second term. And I am very proud to announce my choice for America’s next secretary of state, John Kerry. In a sense, John’s entire life has prepared him for this role. As the son of a Foreign Service officer, he has a deep respect for the men and women of the State Department — the role they play in advancing our interests and values, the risks that they undertake and the sacrifices that they make, along with their families.

Having served with valor in Vietnam, he understands that we have a responsibility to use American power wisely, especially our military power. And he knows from personal experience that when we send our troops into harm’s way, we must give them the sound strategy, a clear mission, and the resources that they need to get the job done.

Click here for a transcript of President Obama’s remarks as he nominates Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) to the Cabinet position of Secretary of State, replacing Hillary Clinton (via WaPo).

CBS News:  Obama taps John Kerry to be Secretary of State

CNN: Obama nominates John Kerry to be secretary of state

WaPo: President Obama has nominated John Kerry for secretary of state

USA Today: John Kerry will face significant challenges

NBC News: Obama taps Kerry for Secretary of State

State Department: Hillary Clinton’s Statement on Kerry Nomination.

 

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