January 19, 2006


U.S. to boost envoy posts in Asia, Africa (Nicholas Kralev, January 19, 2006, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

The United States will shift hundreds of its diplomats from Washington and Europe to emerging countries over the next few years as part of a broad reconfiguration of the Foreign Service and its mission, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday.

Miss Rice said U.S. envoys would be asked to spend less time on traditional diplomacy -- monitoring political developments and talking to officials -- and more time traveling outside the capitals "to help foreign citizens better their own lives."

The State Department employs about 6,400 Foreign Service officers, about one-third of whom are stationed in Washington, one senior official said.

Diplomats Will Be Shifted to Hot Spots (Glenn Kessler and Bradley Graham, January 19, 2006, Washington Post)
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday that she will shift hundreds of Foreign Service positions from Europe and Washington to difficult assignments in the Middle East, Asia and elsewhere as part of a broad restructuring of the diplomatic corps that she has dubbed "transformational diplomacy."

The State Department's culture of deployment and ideas about career advancement must alter now that the Cold War is over and the United States is battling transnational threats of terrorism, drug smuggling and disease, Rice said in a speech at Georgetown University. "The greatest threats now emerge more within states than between them," she said. "The fundamental character of regimes now matters more than the international distribution of power."

As part of the change in priorities, Rice announced that diplomats will not be promoted into the senior ranks unless they accept assignments in dangerous posts, gain expertise in at least two regions and are fluent in two foreign languages, citing Chinese, Urdu and Arabic as a few preferred examples.

Rice noted that the United States has nearly as many State Department personnel in Germany -- which has 82 million people -- as in India, with 1 billion people.

They didn't sign up to help realize our ideals in foreign countries...

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 19, 2006 7:53 AM

Jeez, who wants to live in Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso, etc.? That's for the Peace Corps. Nice idea to get some of the complainers off their foggy bottoms, where they have had much too much time on their hands, and out into the real world. Will idealism replace realism?

Posted by: ed at January 19, 2006 8:29 AM

On its face not a bad approach. To bad she missed the chance to send the Wilsons to Mongolia.

Posted by: Genecis at January 19, 2006 9:12 AM

Forget Mongolia - they should have gone to Zimbabwe or Bolivia.

Posted by: jim hamlen at January 19, 2006 9:21 AM

Note that Condi is also proposing to prevent them from living in the diplomatic bubble that normally insulates such people from the reality of their host country. I presume the personel attrition from this is just as much a goal as improving the working habits of the State Department.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at January 19, 2006 10:05 AM

What do you have against Mongolia?

Posted by: Bob Hawkins at January 19, 2006 11:30 AM

Wilson's been assigned in Africa before and it's a supposed specialty of his. Furthermore embassy employees live like kings in Africa. I know one personally. I have nothing against Mongolia but assume though you may live well there, the climate sucks in general. Otherwise I feel certain the Mongols can keep the Wilsons out of trouble in their yurt.

Posted by: Genecis at January 19, 2006 11:42 AM

AOG: The real problem is that State Department employees live in a bubble that insulates them from the realities of their own country, i.e. America.

Posted by: b at January 19, 2006 11:58 AM

Maybe they should be sent to Tulsa.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at January 19, 2006 12:59 PM

I find the summer reassignment of the 100 people especially funny. All ready for a taxpayer paid trip to Europe and then...

Posted by: Bob at January 19, 2006 1:08 PM

Now when they leak to the New York Times, the NSA can monitor them.

Posted by: pj at January 19, 2006 1:08 PM