Meet Your Next Deputy Secretary of State

November 22, 2010 By Madeleine Pryor

Congress is in recess for the Thanksgiving holiday after the first part of their lame-duck session last week.  They will return next Monday, November 29, for possibly up to three weeks due to a long list of legislative items, chief among them the unresolved FY11 appropriations bills. The Continuing Resolution (CR) passed before the election expires on December 3, and Congress must resolve the appropriations issue before that date. Some members still favor an omnibus package that would pass some or all of the 12 appropriations bills at once. However, a CR extended into the early spring remains the most likely, which would mean the International Affairs Budget for this fiscal year would remain at the FY 2010 enacted level of $51.1 billion, $4.9 billion less than the levels approved by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees earlier this year.

Must Reads

Who’s In the News

Meet your next Deputy Secretary of State: Thomas Nides (Josh Rogin – Foreign Policy)

On Wednesday, just one day before Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew was confirmed as director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee sat down with his incoming replacement, Thomas Nides. Nides is currently the chief operating officer of Morgan Stanley, and previously worked as chief administrative officer of Credit Suisse First Boston, chief executive officer of public relations firm Burson-Marsteller, and senior vice president of Fannie Mae. He has also served in various government posts, including as chief of staff to U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor, executive assistant to House Speaker Tom Foley, and assistant to House Majority Whip Tony Coelho. “This is a job that Tom’s been nominated for that will require managing a large, complex and sometimes unwieldy bureaucracy,” said Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), who introduced Nides at his nomination hearing. “It is an assignment that I know he’s uniquely qualified for based on firsthand experience with Tom’s ability to manage another large, complex and unwieldy bureaucracy, namely my 2000 vice presidential campaign.”

What We Must Do for Iraq Now (Joseph R. Biden Jr – New York Times)

Eight days ago, Iraqi political leaders agreed on a framework for a new government to guide their country through the crucial coming years. Since the elections there in March, our administration has said that the Iraqi people deserve a government that reflects the results of those elections, that includes all the major blocs representing Iraq’s various communities and that does not exclude or marginalize anyone. That is what they will now have. While President Obama and I — and an outstanding team of American officials in Washington and Baghdad — played an active role in supporting this effort, the most important steps were taken in Iraq, by the leaders of Iraq’s largest political parties. Their accomplishment is the latest and strongest evidence of a key development in Iraq: over the past two years, politics has emerged as the dominant means for settling differences and advancing interests. Time and time again in recent months, Iraqi leaders have painstakingly worked through thorny issues — including disputes over who is eligible to run for office or serve in government, challenges to the election results and power-sharing arrangements — without resorting to violence.

Congress vs. National Security (Kay King – New York Times)

The much maligned 111th U.S. Congress will soon come to an end, leaving a legacy of gridlock and rancor despite a prolific legislative record. In the process of tackling many pressing issues, such as health care reform and the economic crisis, the lawmakers exposed the world to a flawed legislative system of backroom deals, outdated rules and procedures, and obsolete committee structures that favored obstruction over deliberation, partisanship over statesmanship, and narrow interests over national objectives. The inability of the U.S. Congress to address tough problems, both domestic and international, has serious national-security consequences. It prompts both allies and adversaries to question whether a world power with a dysfunctional national legislature can continue to lead on the global stage.

Smart Power

Newt Gingrich: Invest in development, improve national security (Lauren Balog – ONE)

This past week, I had the opportunity to hear former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich speak at the US Global Leadership Coalition’s (USGLC) Putting Smart Power to Work event in Washington, D.C. The former speaker spoke at length about the need for an effective international affairs budget and emphasized the need for strong metrics in measuring smart power. He also advocated for a joint State and Defense budget on national security, which was similar to what Secretary Robert Gates advocated for back at the USGLC event in September. While I found the discussions on our national security and the ability for America to make the world a better and safer place incredibly interesting, what struck me was something Speaker Gingrich said during the question and answer session about “investing in human capital.”

Politics/Foreign Policy

The World from The Hill: Helsinki panel a model of bipartisanship on foreign policy (Bridget Johnson – The Hill)

The Democratic chairman of the Helsinki Commission is confident his panel will retain its tradition of bipartisan cooperation despite the intense partisan wrangling on Capitol Hill. The panel has coverage areas that include security, economics and the environment, which are usually synonymous with partisan rancor. But other areas of interest for the commissioners know no party: human rights, press freedom, democratic institutions. “I don’t recall ever seeing a partisan division in the Helsinki work,” the current chairman, Sen. Ben Cardin, said in an exclusive, sit-down interview with The Hill. “We sometimes will disagree on issues but I’ve never seen them come down across party lines.”In fact, the Maryland Democrat is really going to miss one of the staunchest conservatives on the commission. “Sam Brownback is a tremendous loss for us,” Cardin said, calling the former commission chairman and governor-elect of Kansas “very much dedicated to the issues.”

Republican seeks tougher line on foreign policy (Daniel Dombey – Financial Times)

In an interview with the Financial Times, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Florida Republican, made clear that she would challenge the Obama administration far more than Howard Berman, the low profile Democrat who remains the committee’s chairman until the end of the year… As chairman of the House foreign affairs committee, the post she is expected to take in January, Ms Ros-Lehtinen will be able to halt foreign aid payments as well as shaping the agenda for relevant legislation.

U.S. Foreign Aid Reform Meets the Tea Party (John Norris – Center for American Progress)

Can U.S. foreign aid reform and a Republican-led House of Representatives coexist? At first blush, this might seem like the most unlikely of bedfellows. Many of the newly elected Republicans in the House are strong fiscal conservatives, boast limited interest in international affairs, and would seem naturally hostile to foreign aid. Yet, in reality, there is far more common ground to be had than one might imagine. The Obama administration’s recent efforts to overhaul development programs— long a neglected stepchild of U.S. foreign policy—are an important starting point for the conversation on how we can make our assistance efforts more effective and evidence-based. Statements such as those on the preceding page by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates underscore the simple truth that foreign assistance programs are essential to our national interests, improving millions of lives around the globe. Yet the programs constitute a smaller portion of the federal budget than most Americans imagine, and are often poorly managed with little strategic coordination.

Foreign Policy Under GOP House Control (Elizabeth Wynne Johnson – Capital News Connection)

Ros-Lehtinen says she would use her likely role at the helm of Foreign Affairs to push back against the President on some issues.  Israel, for example.  And to be sure, she’s a hawk on Cuba.  Dan Hamilton, Director of the Center for Transatlantic Relations at Johns Hopkins University, expects tougher oversight hearings of the Obama Administration, in general – and its foreign policy, in particular.  You bet, says Ros-Lehtinen.  “We are all over the world — in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have a lot to do with what goes on in the Middle East.  But we have not had oversight in the committee in a robust, energetic way.” Hamilton also says a deficit reduction agenda may affect the Republican’s approach to foreign policy. “I think she will probably press for cuts in foreign aid as opposed to the approach Democrats have been taking.”

Aid agencies told to talk to Taliban as attacks fall (Usman Sharifi – AFP)

Political leaders are divided about talking to the Taliban to bring peace to Afghanistan yet engagement with militants is seen as a necessity for aid agencies trying to improve life in the war-torn country. Local and foreign charities say they often have no option but to seek the consent of militant fighters to carry out their work, as the violent insurgency rages against foreign forces. There are now calls for that contact to be stepped up, amid signs of a shift in attitudes towards aid agencies’ presence in Afghanistan and hints at a role for some insurgents in the country’s political future. The Afghanistan Non-Governmental Organisation Safety Office (ANSO), an advisory body for aid agencies, has said the Taliban look “certain to play a permanent, and increasingly political, role” in the coming years. “We recommend that NGOs start developing strategies for engaging with them rather than avoiding them,” director Nic Lee wrote in the group’s recent quarterly report.