SecState Blinken held a town hall w/ State Dept staffers today, & source tells me it was intense. People got emotional over Afghan situation, saying there was poor planning, confusion, etc. It’s hurt Blinken’s standing, but there’s appreciation that he held the session.
— Nahal Toosi (@nahaltoosi) September 3, 2021
This seems to be State leadership acknowledging how much of a psychological toll the rapid Afghanistan collapse has had on US diplomatic corps. About 1/4 of all US diplomats served in Afghanistan or Iraq. Many believed they were working to building a better future for Afghanistan
— Robbie Gramer (@RobbieGramer) September 3, 2021
Almost everything you think you know about the State Department's handling of the evacuation from Afghanistan is wrong. I talked to Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and others to get to the truth. What they did and are doing is remarkable. https://t.co/DZQOfAYl9C
— David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf) September 2, 2021
US official: "Majority" of Afghan visa applicants have been left behind. US staff in Kabul "haunted" by decisions they had to make at the gates https://t.co/SddlYRIIIG
— jessdonati (@jessdonati) September 1, 2021
Since you’re here, please check out our first fundraising since our funding ran out in August 2020. We could use your help to keep the blog going. Please see GFM: https://gofund.me/32671a27
6 Republican Senators voted Yes to confirm Wendy Sherman as Deputy Secretary of State: Burr, Capito, Collins, Murkowski, Portman and Romney.
— Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) April 13, 2021
Can’t wait to work with our extraordinary Secretary of State and the team at State! A privilege, an honor, and a lot of work on behalf of the American people. Thank you US Senate for confirmation! https://t.co/RrpF34DTRU
— Wendy R. Sherman (@wendyrsherman) April 14, 2021
— Reuters (@Reuters) April 14, 2021
Excerpt from Statement of Ambassador Wendy R. Sherman, Nominee to be Deputy Secretary of State Senate, Foreign Relations Committee, March 3, 2021:
To compete and win the strategic competition with China, we have to invest in America and confront and challenge Beijing where we must, including on human rights and democratic values. We will act firmly in defense of our national interests in response to actions by Russia that harm us or our allies. With respect to Iran, as the lead of the U.S. negotiating team for the JCPOA, I remain clear-eyed about the threat that Iran poses to our interests and those of our allies. I am ready to address your questions about the JCPOA, but would note that 2021 is not 2015 when the deal was agreed, nor 2016 when it was implemented. The facts on the ground have changed, the geopolitics of the region have changed, and the way forward must similarly change.
Moving forward on the challenges our country faces will not be easy, but I firmly believe in the capacity of the United States to meet these challenges through renewed global leadership and the exceptionally talented staff of the State Department. During my prior service, I experienced the unparalleled professionalism of the State Department’s civil servants, foreign service officers, locally engaged staff, and contractors. I also saw the personal sacrifices and contributions their families make for our nation. I am grateful that, if confirmed, I will again have the opportunity to benefit from the expertise and dedication of all of the women and men who advance American interests every day in all of the 180 countries with which we have diplomatic relations.
Wendy Sherman and Colin Kahl both face Senate confirmation hearings this week where they are expected to be grilled on their work negotiating the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and Biden’s approach to the United States’ top Middle Eastern rival.https://t.co/fdw6jhYWdL
— Foreign Policy (@ForeignPolicy) March 4, 2021
Amb. @wendyrsherman to @SenatorShaheen: "In everything I do at the @StateDept on behalf of the American people, I will make sure that women are included." #HistoricFirst#FirstButNotTheLast
— Dr. Tamara Cofman Wittes (@tcwittes) March 3, 2021
The scoop from @Politico: @WendySherman for Deputy Secretary of State, Toria Nuland for Under Secretary for Political Affiars, Jon Finer for Deputy Nat'l Security Advisor, and @A_Sloat for NSC Sr Director for Europe. #StateDept https://t.co/z6w13MiCZp
— Donald Camp (@donacamp) January 5, 2021
.@wendyrsherman, Toria Nuland, @jonfiner, Kurt Campbell, @A_Sloat, @brett_mcgurk – not household names perhaps but reason for all of us to sleep better at night + strong signals to Russia Iran Asia DPRK Middle East Europehttps://t.co/qDehSRsnq6 via @michaelcrowley @SangerNYT
— Ben Chang (@whoisbenchang) January 6, 2021
Posted: 2:11 am ET
On April 11, the White House officially announced President Trump’s intent to nominate Mr. Sullivan not only as the State Department’s Deputy Secretary of State (D) but to also serve concurrently as Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources (D/MR). )see Trump to nominate John J. Sullivan to be @StateDept’s No.2 and to also serve as No.3 and Previously Announced DOD Nominee John J. Sullivan Now Slated to be @StateDept’s No. 2).
On May 9. Mr. Sullivan appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for his confirmation hearing. NPR reported that the deputy secretary of state nominee said during the confirmation hearing that there have been no decisions on job cuts despite reports that 2,300 positions are on the chopping block. Sullivan says that the secretary of state has only just begun to solicit input from staff around the globe.
The nominee is a nephew of the late Ambassador William Healy Sullivan (October 12, 1922 – October 11, 2013), a career FSO who served as Ambassador to Laos from 1964–1969, the Philippines from 1973–1977, and Iran from 1977–1979. Barring any late minute issue, we expect that Mr. Sullivan will be confirmed as the next “D.”
Excerpt from his prepared testimony:
A small number of public servants are accepted into the Foreign Service, which I know well. My uncle Bill Sullivan was a Foreign Service Officer for 32 years. He was the last U.S. Ambassador to Iran in the late 1970s. It was his staff in Tehran that was taken hostage on November 4, 1979—a few months after the President had recalled him.
It is an earlier date from 1979, however, that sticks out in my mind: February 14, Valentine’s Day. The U.S. Embassy in Tehran was overrun by a mob, and my uncle and his staff were seized. After a few hours, the Americans were released and the embassy reopened. My uncle appeared in a picture on the cover of the next issue of Newsweek. He was surrounded by Iranians carrying assault weapons, one of whom was brandishing a bayonet in his face.
That day in 1979 is significant to me not merely because of the drama in Iran, but also because of a tragedy in Afghanistan. Our Ambassador, Spike Dubs, was kidnapped and assassinated in Kabul. Like my uncle, Ambassador Dubs was a U.S. Navy World War II veteran and a career Foreign Service Officer.
The assassination of Ambassador Dubs and the seizure of our embassy in Tehran on February 14, 1979, made a huge impression on me. I have remained in awe of our Foreign Service Officers who venture into such dangerous places on our behalf.
If confirmed, it would be my highest honor to work with the Foreign Service, the Civil Service, and the Department’s locally employed staff in the conduct of American diplomacy. In a world in which we face significant and enduring threats, these challenging times require leadership from the United States. As Secretary Tillerson said when he came before this committee, “to achieve the stability that is foundational to peace and security in the 21st century, American leadership must not only be renewed, it must be asserted.”
Read in full here (PDF). Clips below:
Posted: 3:30 am ET
On March 7, President Trump nominated John J. Sullivan as General Counsel for the Department of Defense. According to the WSJ, Trump administration officials in recent days have reportedly decided to tap Mr. Sullivan instead for the State Department’s deputy secretary position. The nomination has yet to be announced
The following brief bio was originally released during the announcement of Mr. Sullivan’s nomination for DOD General Counsel earlier this month:
Mr. Sullivan was most recently a partner in Mayer Brown’s Washington, D.C. office and co-chair of the firm’s National Security practice. He has held senior positions at the Justice, Defense, and Commerce Departments, advising the Attorney General, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Commerce, and the Counsel to the President on the most sensitive legal and policy issues. During his tenure at Mayer Brown, Mr. Sullivan focused his practice on the growing intersection of global trade and investment and national security. Prior to joining Mayer Brown, Mr. Sullivan served at the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel, where he was Counselor to Assistant Attorney General J. Michael Luttig. He advised senior officials on legal issues arising out of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and provided legal advice to the FBI, CIA, Treasury Department, and White House Counsel’s Office. Earlier in his career, he served as a law clerk for Associate Justice David H. Souter of the Supreme Court of the United States, and for Judge John Minor Wisdom of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
Mr. Sullivan received his bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Brown University and his law degree from Columbia University School of Law, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar, Teaching Fellow, and Book Reviews Editor of the Columbia Law Review.
Mayer Brown has a more extensive Sullivan biography available online here: https://www.mayerbrown.com/en-US/people/John-Sullivan/
— Domani Spero
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On November 3, we blogged this: State Dept’s Wendy Sherman Now Dual-Hatted as “P” and New Acting Deputy Secretary. Four days later, and three days after the midterms, President Obama officially announced his intent to nominate Anthony Blinken as Bill Burns’ successor at the State Department.
The WH released the following brief bio:
Antony Blinken is Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor, a position he has held since 2013. From 2009 to 2013, Mr. Blinken was Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor in the Office of the Vice President. Previously, he was Staff Director for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 2002 to 2008. From 2001 to 2002, he was a Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. In the Clinton Administration, he served on the National Security Council staff as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for European Affairs and as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Strategic Planning and Speechwriting. He also served as Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs at the Department of State. Mr. Blinken received a B.A. from Harvard College and a J.D. from Columbia Law School.
“I congratulate Tony Blinken on his nomination to serve as Deputy Secretary of State. He is a genuine superstar.” -VP http://t.co/0jsMp8PGcz
— Vice President Biden (@VP) November 8, 2014
— Marie Harf (@marieharf) November 7, 2014
POTUS: “It’s the 4th quarter & impt things happen in 4thQ” W/ his judgment & integrity, Tony Blinken is just the person US wants w/ the ball
— Samantha Power (@AmbassadorPower) November 7, 2014
This announcement came at a Friday afternoon, the reaction appears generally positive at this time. There does not appear to be any reaction that could portend to how this nomination would fare in the lame duck session. Except for one Fox News contributor who boldly tweeted the following:
A side note, if Mr. Blinken is confirmed, there will be a new power couple at State. Right now, current power couple is Heather Higginbottom (D/MR and State Department #3) and spouse Daniel Sepulveda, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy with a rank of ambassador. If confirmed, Mr. Blinken will be State’s #2. His spouse, Evan M. Ryan is currently Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). Prior to becoming Assistant Secretary of State, she served as the assistant for intergovernmental affairs and public liaison for Joe Biden; she also worked for the Kerry campaign and served in various capacities for then First Lady Hillary Clinton.
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