So what’s it like to be Secretary of State?

November 9, 2010 By Richard Parker

Ever wonder what a day in the life of the Secretary of State is like?  National Geographic aired a documentary last night entitled “Inside the State Department,” profiling everything from security on foreign trips to determining the perfect gift for a visiting dignitary.  All of the intricacies of running Foggy Bottom illustrate the challenges and demands of American engagement with the world in the 21st century.  One of the Secretary’s trips to Pakistan in the documentary highlights the benefits of public diplomacy in a country of vital interest to U.S. national security interests today.  Check out a few clips from “Inside the State Department.” 

Must Reads

Who’s In the News

How the GOP House may affect Obama’s foreign policy (Bridget Johnson – The Hill)

President Obama began his term with promises of hitting diplomatic reset buttons, increasing nuclear security and repairing relations with the Muslim world. Nearly two years and one Nobel Peace Prize later, awarded just months into his term not for achieving concrete foreign policy goals but for “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” the president finds himself with crumbling Mideast peace talks, a looming drawdown deadline on the heels of his surge strategy in Afghanistan, a START treaty with Russia that might get nuked in Congress and relations with nuclear-fueled Iran as strained and toxic as ever.


Smart Power

How Much Do Rich Countries Help Poor Ones? (Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner – New York Times)

The Center for Global Development has just released its 2010 Commitment to Development Index: “Rich and poor nations are linked in many ways—by foreign aid, commerce, the environment, and more. Each year, the CDI rates rich-country governments on how much they are helping poor countries via seven key linkages: aid, trade, investment, migration, environment, security, and technology.” The scores are adjusted for size. Sweden is the big giver of the bunch (lots of aid), although the U.S. fares better than expected thanks to its outsized trade and security contributions.  South Korea does the least for poor countries, although France, Italy, Greece, Switzerland and Japan all score below average.


Politics/Foreign Policy

Will the Tea Party shift American foreign policy? (Michael Gerson – The Washington Post)

Foreign policy was so irrelevant in the midterm election that the first sentence of this column – unwisely beginning with the words “foreign policy” – is likely to weed out many readers looking for juicier bits of election reaction.  But invisible things such as oxygen, God and foreign affairs can still be consequential. And last week’s election will have the scariest kind of influence on America’s role in the world: massive and unclear.

New Tea Party Senators are likely ‘no’ votes on New START (Josh Rogin – Foreign Policy)

If the Senate vote on the New START nuclear reduction treaty with Russia is postponed until next year, the new Tea Party-affiliated senators are likely to vote no. “I think we need to have more discussion on it, but it doesn’t sound like that I’m probably going to be in favor of that,” Kentucky Republican Senator-elect Rand Paul said on ABC’s This Week on Sunday. “Some of it is the devil’s in the details there, and I need to know more about it before making an immediate decision,” he said. Paul, who is a leader of the Tea Partiers though with more libertarian inclinations, added that the Tea Party has no real foreign policy, but that its members are likely to unify around core principles when they descend on Washington next week.

Cholera Confirmed for Resident of Haiti’s Capital (Associated Press)

A cholera epidemic has spread into Haiti’s capital, imperiling nearly 3 million people living in Port-au-Prince, nearly half of them in unsanitary tent camps for the homeless from the Jan. 12 earthquake. Health authorities told The Associated Press on Monday that tests confirmed a 3-year-old boy who hadn’t been out of the city had caught the disease. More than 100 other suspected cholera cases among city residents also were being tested. The outbreak has already killed at least 544 people in Haiti, Health Ministry Executive Director Gabriel Timothee told the AP. The boy was tested after being taken to the Bernard Mevs/Project Medishare hospital Oct. 31 suffering from severe dehydration, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. He was treated with oral rehydration, IV fluids and antibiotics and was released.