Ambassador Anthony Quainton: “there are more and more hammers in the policy toolbox…”

Posted: 4:04 am ET

 

From Militarization and Marginalization of American Diplomacy and Foreign Policy via American Diplomacy
Ambassador Anthony C. E. Quainton 
Former U.S. Ambassador to CAR, Nicaragua, Kuwait, Peru
Former Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security, DGHR, and CT Coordinator

“[W]e are not facing a militarization of American foreign policy but the marginalization of diplomacy as the effective alternative to military force. The denigration and dismissal of soft power, even when it is renamed smart power, has led to a perception of diplomatic weakness and the concomitant rise of military influence on the policy process. It is a sad reality that there are more and more hammers in the policy toolbox and fewer alternative weapons. The result may be that a president anxious to make America great again and to demonstrate the effectiveness of American leadership and power may look for a place of his choosing to demonstrate American power. President Trump does not seem temperamentally interested in the prolonged and protracted process of diplomacy. His recent tweet questioning the utility of Secretary Tillerson’s efforts to engage the North Koreans in dialogue is an example of this skepticism. In these circumstances we should not be surprised if the United States were to decides to choose a target of opportunity in Iran or North Korea or Syria to show off its military might. This will not reflect the institutional militarization of American foreign policy but rather the emotional need of many Americans, frustrated by our loss of global standing to demonstrate that America can indeed be great again. Neither a resourced military nor an marginalized diplomacy should want that to happen.”

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Why ‘Rexit” Is Not Happening Anytime Soon, in Rex Tillerson’s Own Words

Posted: 2:45 am ET
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‘Rexit’ was in the news for a few days. Reports that Secretary Tillerson had gone to Texas, putting in 20-hour workdays while also on some time off did not help quell the rumors. Last week during an appearance at the State Department with the Foreign Minister of Qatar, Secretary Tillerson told the press that he is not going anywhere, and that he is staying as long as President Trump would let him. And that helped taper off the Rexit talks.

There are quite a few reasons why Secretary Tillerson will not be in a hurry to exit, despite issues with the White House, or his inability to pick his own staff, or being publicly undermined by his boss. Here he is in his own words.

“We’re going to carve our piece into that history.”

In Secretary Tillerson’s remarks to State Department employees in May, he talked about history.

“One of the great honors for me serving in this department, the Department of State, and all of you know, the Department of State, first cabinet created and chartered under the Constitution. Secretary of State, first cabinet position chartered and created under the Constitution. So we are part of a living history and we’re going to get to carve our little piece of it, our increment, in that clock of time. We’re going to carve our piece into that history.”

Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky on CNN writes that “Tillerson does not have a small ego. He doesn’t want to be the answer to the question in a game of Trivial Pursuit of which Secretary of State holds the record for the shortest tenure in the modern era.”  We should add that Tillerson was the CEO of the 6th largest company in the world in terms of revenue. His compensation was in the millions and he apparently has a right to deferred stock worth approximately $180 million over the next 10 years. He does not need another job for the rest of his life after he steps down as secretary of state. But his reputation, which is all that’s left in the end, could suffer.

Questions are already being asked, “Is he the worst Secretary of State in living memory?”  

What he does here, now, history will remember, and history is judgy.

So he will be mindful of history and his place in that history. We don’t think he will leave his post without being able to cite a major accomplishment during his tenure. A potential accomplishment could be the reorganization of the State Department, but that is not happening overnight.

“How do we effect the change and begin to get that into place?”

In a June 13, 2017 appearance at the Senate Appropriations Sub-Committee, Secretary Tillerson talked about the timeframe of his reorganization plan (see Notable Details From Tillerson’s Congressional Appearances on FY18 Budget Request).

“We hope to have the way forward, the next step framed here in the kind of August timeframe, so that we can then begin the redesign process itself September. I’m hoping we can have all of that concluded by the end of the calendar year, and then ’18 will be a year of how do we implement this now? How do we effect the change and begin to get that into place?”

We don’t think he will leave before the reorganization is completed at the State Department, and implementation for that is not even happening until sometime in 2018.  If he leaves his position before his agency’s reorganization is completed, what will his Wikipedia page say? That he started reorganizing the Department of State and then he quit to spend more time with his family? Oftentimes reorganizations cause unpalatable changes — and if the real reasons for this reorganization are cost efficiencies and effectiveness (as opposed to WH vindictiveness for that leaked dissent cable) — how do you make it stick if the chief sponsor of the reorganization leaves?

Remember Condi Rice’s “transformation” initiative and job repositioning efforts at the State Department? She did not step down for two more years following that splashy announcement. And even that was not enough to make the changes stick.  The heart of change is changing hearts, and a secretary of state perceived to be disconnected from the building and his people will find the job of changing a bureaucracy almost as old as this country even harder, and tougher.

“We don’t intend to leave anybody out.”

During his remarks to employees in May, Tillerson talked about the State Department as a ship, and his tenure as taking a voyage with his employees, to get “there” wherever that is. And he talked about not leaving anybody out.

“But we’re on all this ship, on this voyage together. And so we’re going to get on the ship and we’re going to take this voyage, and when we get there, we’re all going to get off the ship at wherever we arrive. But we’re all going to get on and we’re going to get off together. We don’t intend to leave anybody out.”

While it may not be his intention, he actually is already leaving the entire building out. We don’t know how he feels about that. We do know that Mr. Tillerson would have a better relationship with Foggy Bottom, and a better chance at successfully fulfilling his job if not for the small circle of individuals controlling the air space over the secretary of state.

Secretary Tillerson is in a bubble with his interaction in the building scrupulously laundered through an inner circle of advisers who are dismissive of people who are not considered worthy and who see dark shadows in every corner.  We understand that Secretary Tillerson does not meet with career staffers without the presence of at least a member or two from his inner circle (this circle should have a name, hey?).  As if somehow, his folks are afraid that Tillerson might get poked and wake up to the reality he is in. Tillerson’s front office managers have done an atrocious job of representing him inside the building. Changing that should be Tillerson’s top priority, then he won’t leave the entire building out.

“I want to shake the hand of every State Department employee…”

In a remarks to employees earlier this month, Tillerson said that he wanted to shake the hand of every State Department employee. The State Department has over 75,000 employees in Foggy Bottom and at over 270 posts worldwide.

“I want to shake the hand of every State Department employee at some point during this tenure of mine, anyway. You’re all extremely important to us — individual, but you’re extremely important to us, collectively, in what you do.”

So he’s not going to get that hand-shaking done before the end of the year.  To-date, Secretary Tillerson has travelled nine times overseas to twenty-two foreign destinations. He’s got ways to go here and there.

And there is a bonus reason why Secretary Tillerson will not be be resigning soon or in the foreseeable future. According to the secretary of state’s strategic adviser, “As long as there are rogue regimes pursuing nuclear weapons or terrorists seeking safe haven the secretary will remain on the job.”

Well, that’s it then. Waiting for the collapse of rogue regimes and terrorists before you quit makes for quite a long wait. Unless his boss think otherwise, and tweets after this blogpost is posted online.

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Quote of the Day: Trump Reveals Primary Foreign Policy Advisor He’s Consulting

Posted: 1:55 am EDT
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Asked on MSNBC, this is Mr. Trump’s response:

 

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Don’t Give Up On Us Baby: State Dept OIG Writes Back on Leadership and Management

— Domani Spero
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In the years that we’ve blogged about the State Department and the Foreign Service, we’ve covered the Office of Inspector General (OIG) quite a bit.  The complaints that reports to the OIG were ignored or forwarded to other parts of the bureaucracy are not new.  We have readers bending our ears about that specific issue for years.

Recently, we had a Burn Bag submission saying “The OIG can’t and won’t save us. They stress, the Bureaus, not the OIG, should be the “bad leadership police.”

That is troubling, yes?  To paraphrase the Dalai Lama, if people lose hope, that’s your real disaster. If employees start thinking and feeling that their institution do not care about them, how soon before the employees stop caring about their institution?

So we sent the following questions to the Office of Inspector General:

Is it true that complaints or allegations of bad leadership or mismanagement are forwarded by the OIG to the bureaus to handle?

Do you think that the bureaus are equipped to police their own ranks?

Who do you go to if you have complaints about mismanagement at the bureau level?

If top officials are not accountable for their bad leadership or mismanagement and as these officials are reassigned from one post to the next, doesn’t this build a negative impact on morale and ultimately on the institution?

I am trying to understand why the OIG, which is often, the last resort in many of these cases, does not think effective management and leadership is a priority as he embarks on his new tenure at State?

Yesterday, we received the following response:

 

Oops, excuse me, that’s Hutch’s 1977 smash-hit single. If you don’t remember him, that’s because I’m officially an oldster protected by ADEA.  And he’s that fellow from the original Starsky and Hutch.

 

Here’s the official OIG response, republished below in full:

Leadership and management are challenges for the Department and an oversight priority for the Office of Inspector General (OIG). IG Linick has discussed leadership and management issues directly with the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources. Each of the divisions within OIG play a role, often collaborating to hold the Department accountable for ineffective leadership and mismanagement.

OIG’s Office of Investigations (INV) learns of ineffective leadership or management through Hotline reports, from our Office of Inspections (ISP), and in the course of its own investigations. INV addresses complaints about Department leadership and management in a number of different ways. OIG investigators conduct initial reviews of mismanagement involving fraud, waste, abuse, administrative misconduct, or retaliation against whistleblowers, for example, and refer matters to the Department of Justice when there is evidence of possible criminal or civil violations.

There are, however, circumstances that prompt OIG to refer leadership and management concerns to the Department. If, for instance, a complainant’s allegations relate to a personnel matter, such as allegations that an official used abusive language with subordinates, OIG may notify appropriate Department officials about the alleged perpetrator so that they may take action. Thus, if such a complaint were about a COM or DCM, OIG would notify the relevant Assistant Secretary and Director General. Matters referred to the Department are monitored for appropriate follow-up. In other circumstances, when warranted, OIG will send investigators to look into the allegations directly.

OIG’s Office of Investigations notifies OIG inspectors of allegations or complaints about leadership and management at posts and bureaus to help ISP prioritize its work and to identify areas that should be assessed during formal inspections. OIG monitors compliance with its recommendations and brings them to the attention of Congress through formal and informal means. ISP evaluates the effectiveness of leadership and management in the course of its inspections, and it may move up scheduling of a post’s inspection when these types of concerns surface in survey results or by other means.

Over the years, ISP has made recommendations to the Department aimed at improving Department-wide leadership and management issues, such as recommendations that the Department develop directives on leadership or management principles, conduct 360-degree surveys on its leaders, enhance First And Second Tour (FAST) mentoring, and be more innovative in providing sustained leadership and management training to Foreign Service Officers throughout their careers. The Department has already adopted some of OIG’s major recommendations, such as updating the Foreign Affairs Manual to address leadership. It has also begun to conduct its first 360-degree survey of COMs.

 

We  appreciate State/OIG’s effort  to address our questions. We hope this is helpful to our readers. We will have a follow-up post later on.

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State Dept May Dump Multi-Billion Dollar Iraqi Police Program; Noooooooo! Not So Says Embassy Baghdad

So on Sunday, NYT’s Tim Arango reported from Baghdad that the U.S. May Scrap Costly Efforts to Train Iraqi Police. Quick excerpt:

BAGHDAD — In the face of spiraling costs and Iraqi officials who say they never wanted it in the first place, the State Department has slashed — and may jettison entirely by the end of the year — a multibillion-dollar police training program that was to have been the centerpiece of a hugely expanded civilian mission here.

What was originally envisioned as a training cadre of about 350 American law enforcement officers was quickly scaled back to 190 and then to 100. The latest restructuring calls for 50 advisers, but most experts and even some State Department officials say even they may be withdrawn by the end of this year.

The training effort, which began in October and has already cost $500 million, was conceived of as the largest component of a mission billed as the most ambitious American aid effort since the Marshall Plan.

Actually, according to SIGIR’s estimate, as of October 2011, the United States has spent about $8 billion to staff, train, and equip Iraq’s police forces.

On cross-cultural police mistraining or where in heaven’s name did we find these instructors?

A lesson given by an American police instructor to a class of Iraqi trainees neatly encapsulated the program’s failings. There are two clues that could indicate someone is planning a suicide attack, the instructor said: a large bank withdrawal and heavy drinking.

The problem with that advice, which was recounted by Ginger Cruz, the former deputy inspector general at the American Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, was that few Iraqis have bank accounts and an extremist Sunni Muslim bent on carrying out a suicide attack is likely to consider drinking a cardinal sin.

Last month many of the Iraqi police officials who had been participating in the training suddenly refused to attend the seminars and PowerPoint presentations given by the Americans, saying they saw little benefit from the sessions.
[…]
The largest of the construction projects, an upgrade at the Baghdad Police College that included installing protective covering over double-wide residence trailers (to shield against mortar attacks) and new dining and laundry facilities and seminar rooms, was recently abandoned, unfinished, after an expenditure of more than $100 million. The remaining police advisers will instead work out of the American Embassy compound, where they will have limited ability to interact with Iraqi police officials.

Read in full here.

That Iraqi police officials see little benefit from these training sessions should not be news to anyone. Last year, Iraq’s Senior Deputy Minister of Interior Adnan al Asadi told SIGIR: “What tangible benefit is there to my ministry of 650,000 people who are in the midst of massive security challenges on the streets of Iraq? Very little.”

Frankly, we can understand his point. There are bombings here and there, there’s an arrest warrant for the country’s vice president for terrorism charges, and we are training them on human resources and online recruitment, potential training venues in the United States, two-hour seminars on the “mediums of communication and how they are used to better communicate,” English language, GoCase Management Software for Commission of Integrity (but lead COI programmer was killed in spring 2011), and so on and so forth.

And there is the fact that Iraq has not made the financial contribution toward the cost of the Police Development Program (PDP) as required by US law and policy. SIGIR has pointed out that Iraq is certainly able to make such a contribution, and its failure to do so raises genuine concerns about its commitment to the program.

In last year’s appearance at the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, United States House of Representatives, Stuart W. Bowen, Jr., the Inspector General of the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction had this to say:

“While the U.S. government views the PDP as about a billion dollar capacity-development program, the Iraqis view it as 115 English-speaking police advisors (25 of whom will be stationed in the stable Kurdistan Region) providing diverse training and support. With those advisors come burdens, including requests from the U.S. Embassy for land use agreements, for visas for third country national security guards, for weapons permits for armed security teams, and the like. The land use issue is significant. The primary PDP location in Baghdad is at Forward Operating Base Shield, which is right in the middle of an unstable area of Baghdad that houses the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Oil, and the Baghdad Police College. The Iraqis expressed concern that the placement of American advisors in that location may attract attacks that could affect nearby facilities.” [SIGIR 11-003T].

Police Development Program Sites in Iraq
Image via SIGIR
(click image for larger view)

We should not forget that Thomas R. Nides, deputy secretary of state for management and resources, in a February briefing with reporters in Washington said: “We have stood up a robust police-training program, which is doing a terrific job working with the local police in training and developing a program, which I think will pay enormous dividends.”

We can’t say if anyone has actually been able to sketch fully what those “enormous dividends” are like.

In any case, Sunday is a working day at the US Embassy in Baghdad, and yesterday, it released a Tarzan statement in response to the NYT report, which can be described as “a victory cry of the bull ape” sort of statement — “Police Development Program is a Vital Part of the U.S.- Iraqi Relationship”

Despite a New York Times report to the contrary, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and the Department of State have no plans to shut down the Police Development Program (PDP) in Iraq that began in October 2011.  According to U.S. Embassy Spokesman Michael McClellan, “The Iraqi Government and the State Department regularly review the size and scope of our law enforcement assistance efforts to ensure that these  programs best meet the needs of Iraq’s security forces.“

As part of its review of staffing and space issues in early 2012, and in close consultation with the Iraqi Government, the Embassy and the Department of State decided to return the Baghdad Police College Annex to the Iraqi Ministry of Interior and relocate U.S.-funded advisors to the Embassy compound by the end of 2012.

Read the full statement here.

We are seriously wondering if 1) anyone actually believe any part of that statement; and 2) if the US Embassy in Baghdad bothered to read SIGIR’s audit of the Iraq Police Development Program: Opportunities for Improved Program Accountability and Budget Transparency from October 2011

The audit, which according to SIGIR, was initially was impaired by the State Department’s lack of cooperation, and resulted in limited access to key officials/documents slammed the State Department’s handling of the Iraqi training program:

  • DoS does not have a current assessment of Iraqi police forces’ capabilities upon which to base its program.
  • While DoS has further defined the program since the option was adopted, it has not developed specific goals on what is to be accomplished, intermediate and longer-term milestones, metrics to assess progress and accomplishments, and or means to ensure transparency and accountability for program costs and performance.
  • Without specific goals, objectives, and performance measures, the PDP could become a “bottomless pit” for U.S. dollars intended for mentoring, advising, and training the Iraqi police forces. Meetings held with Iraqi police officials and training courses provided could simply become “accomplishments,” without any indicators of changes in the management and functioning of the Iraqi police forces that can be attributed to this costly program.

So for this quarter, here is the Police Development Program advisors’ bottomless accomplishments, with more coming next quarter:

  • 399 engagements with Baghdad-based advisors—up 105% from last quarter’s 195
  •  95 engagements with Erbil-based advisors—down 41% from last quarter’s 160
  •  23 engagements with Basrah-based advisors—down 34% from last quarter’s 35

As for indicators of changes, there are a few striking ones:

  • U.S. advisors/trainers will now be officially working at the embassy compound.
  • U.S. advisors/trainers will be working at the embassy compound, sans Iraqi trainees now allergic to PowerPoint presentations
  • And U.S. advisors/trainers will be working at the embassy compound, period.

Tarzaaaaaaaaaaaaan!

Domani Spero