Retired SFSO R. Nicholas Burns Sworn-In as US Ambassador to China

 

 

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Senate Releases Burns (China), Toloui (EB), Hussain (IRF), Barrett (Luxembourg) From Confirmation Super Glue

 

On December 16, the U.S. Senate was able to released four State Department nominees from the body’s confirmation tacky super glue. There were logged senate votes for the first three nominees (China, EB, IRF), and for the confirmation of the Ambassador to Luxembourg, a simple voice vote.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also tweeted “I have filed cloture to start the process on more than 20 of President Biden’s nominees. These nominees are vital to addressing the national security and economic challenges of our nation. We will work until they are all confirmed by this chamber.”
It was for 22 nominations to be exact. 12 out of 22 are @StateDept nominations. 1 of 12 is a career diplomat (going to Vietnam). In the Senate priorities on which nominations should be confirmed first, former senators and widows of senators are obviously on top of the list, followed by the donor class and the friends with connections class, and then if there is still time, they may also confirm the career folks before they end their session for the holidays. Otherwise, it may not look  good; although that does not seem to matter anymore these days.  Phuey! I supposed we can stick with the hamsters’ motto of the more things change, the more things stay the same. Amen.
Related post:

Biden Taps Former “P” Nicholas Burns to be the Next Ambassador to Beijing

 

 

President Biden announced his intent to nominate former Ambassador Nicholas Burns as his Ambassador to China. The WH released the following brief bio:

R. Nicholas Burns, Nominee for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the People’s Republic of China

Ambassador (ret.) Nicholas Burns, a respected former career member of the Foreign Service, currently serves as Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Relations at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. He is also Executive Director of the Aspen Strategy Group and Security Forum and Senior Counselor at the Cohen Group. During his State Department career, Burns served as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Ambassador to NATO and to Greece, State Department Spokesman, and on the National Security Council staff on Soviet and Russian Affairs. As Under Secretary, he worked with the Chinese government on issues as diverse as Afghanistan, United Nations Sanctions against Iran, North Korea ,and U.S. policy in the Indo-Pacific. At the Aspen Strategy Group, he organized a policy dialogue with the Chinese government’s Central Party School.  He has taught, written, and spoken on current U.S.-China relations. Burns earned his B.A. degree from Boston College and an M.A. from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. His numerous awards include a Presidential Distinguished Service Award and the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award. He speaks fluent French and has familiarity with Arabic and Greek.

The WH somehow forgot to include the nominee’s Entegris bio. Click here for a longer bio via the George W. Bush White House archive, and  the Policy Planning bio from 2009-2017 via state.gov. His Cohen Group bio where he is senior counselor is available here.
After the announcement, China expressed hope that Ambassador Burns would “play a constructive role” in China-US relations and “make constructive contributions to the stable development of bilateral ties.”
If confirmed, Ambassador Burns would succeed Terry E. Branstad who served in Beijing from July 12, 2017–October 4, 2020. A previous appointee to this position once announced that “The ambassador doesn’t work for the State Department.” That one managed to work at the US Embassy in Beijing from March 20, 2014–January 16, 2017 presumably without working for the State Department.

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Familiar Names For Foggy Bottom in a Potential Clinton White House

Posted: 3:01 am ET
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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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Thursday Inbox: Is it appropriate to send a retired general to be ambassador to USNATO?

From our inbox, a question about the recent nomination to NATO:

I don’t know Doug Lute.  And I have no reason to doubt that he is a smart and very accomplished person, who has earned the President’s trust.  However, that’s not the issue.  What *is* an issue is the fact that Lute is a military man.  And I think there need to be some probing questions asked asked about the appropriateness of sending a retired general to be ambassador USNATO.

The U.S. Ambassador to NATO is actually a shorthand title — s/he is the U.S. Permanent Representative to the North Atlantic Council (NAC).  The NAC is NATO’s political decision-making body.

The United States has, of course, had veterans in the USUN job before, but never, to the best of my knowledge, a retired career military person.  Indeed, the whole point of the North Atlantic Council is that it is run by civilians.  That’s why it is the top and sovereign body in NATO.

Those responsible for this appointment either don’t know or care about the history of NATO and why the NAC exists.

Sending a career military man to [USUN] USNATO is similar to, although different in degree, naming a Secretary of Defense who is a retired general.  In the United States, we have civilian control of the military.  These kinds of appointments blur that distinction in a dangerous way.

By the way — lest anyone make the argument that, since Lute is retired, we really should just ignore his whole military career and view him as a civilian, that is a laughable argument on two fronts:

(1) The only thing that makes him a candidate for any senior government job is that very military experience; and

(2) The White House even calls him *General* Lute in their announcement of the nomination!  So much for the civilian stuff.

A final note:

There is actually a quasi-counterpart to the North Atlantic Council for military reps at NATO — the NATO Military Committee.

Can one assume that, when the current 3-star who is the U.S. rep on the Military Committee leaves, he will be replaced by some just-retired FSO?  Of course, the answer is no.

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Below via history.state.gov | The Chief of Mission has the title of U.S. Permanent Representative on the Council of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, with the rank and status of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. Prior to 1 July 1967 the Representative on the Council of NATO was the Chief of the U.S. Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization nad European Regional Organizations at Paris.

 

Since post was created, only five six of those appointed as ambassador to USNATO were career diplomats from the U.S. Foreign Service. One of those FSOs and the sole female appointee is Victoria Nuland, former State spokesperson and current nominee to be Assistant Secretary for the EUR Bureau. Update: One of our readers wrote to inform us that although Kurt Volker was a “non-career appointment” to the USNATO position he actually was a career FSO for a number of years. We understand that he was not in the Senior Foreign Service when appointed ambassador. Whether by mistake or oversight, both Volker and Nuland are listed by history.state.gov as non-career appointees.  Since Volker was in the FS and Nuland is currently in the FS (just promoted to FE-CM in 2012) we’re listing them both as FSOs in this blog post.

Only one previous appointee is a retired former military official – William Henry Draper Jr. who served during World War II as a major in the infantry, left and became a banker but stayed in the Army Reserves.  He later became a brigadier-general after World War II,  was promoted to major-general, and became the first under secretary of the Army from September 18, 1947 to February 28, 1949.

General Lute graduated from West Point in 1975 and left active duty in 2010.

Lieutenant General David R. Hogg is currently the United States Military Representative to the NATO Military Committee (USMILREP).

Updated to clarify details on Volker and Draper. Thanks to readers who helped!   

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Officially In: Douglas E. Lute from the WH to NATO

— By Domani Spero

On May 23, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Douglas E. Lute as the United States Permanent Representative on the Council of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The WH released the following brief bio:

Douglas E. Lute is Deputy Assistant to the President and Coordinator for South Asia on the White House National Security Staff.  He retired from active duty in the United States Army as a Lieutenant General in 2010, after 35 years of service.  From 2007 to 2009, he was Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Iraq and Afghanistan.  From 2006 to 2007, he was Director of Operations (J3) on the Joint Staff.  Previously, from 2004 to 2006, he was Director of Operations for the United States Central Command.  General Lute’s previous positions include Deputy Director of Operations for the United States European Command in Stuttgart, Germany; Assistant Division Commander in the 1st Infantry Division in Schweinfurt, Germany; Commander of U.S. Forces in Kosovo; and Commander of the Second Cavalry Regiment.

He received a B.S. from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an M.P.A. from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

If confirmed, General Lute would succeed Ivo Daalder who has been the U.S. Permanent Representative on the Council of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization since May 2009. Previous occupants of this position includes Victoria NulandR. Nicholas BurnsDonald Rumsfeld, and William Henry Draper, Jr. who served as the first U.S. Ambassador to NATO in Paris.

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Related item:

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts May 23, 2013


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