Archive for the ‘State Department’ Category

Rice says Pakistan pledges to help find Mumbai suspects

December 4, 2008

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday that the Pakistani government had pledged to cooperate in rounding up suspects of the Mumbai terror attacks who operated from Pakistani territory or were of Pakistani origin.

By Salman Masood and Robert F. Worth
International Herald Tribune

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice meeting with Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani of Pakistan, right, in Islamabad on Thursday. Also shown in photo: U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher, left, and the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Anne Patterson. (B.K.Bangash/The Associated Press)

Rice flew to the Pakistani capital Thursday for talks after discussions Wednesday with Indian officials in New Delhi. She stressed that both India and Pakistan should cooperate fully to investigate the Mumbai  attacks and bring to justice those who perpetrated them. More than 170 people were killed in an onslaught on targets including two luxury hotels, a Jewish center, a café and a railroad station. Of a presumed 10 attackers, all but one were killed.

“What I heard was a commitment that this is the course that will be taken,” Rice told reporters at Chaklala Air Base after meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.

In Mumbai, investigators reported Thursday that inquiries so far had produced gruesome new evidence suggesting savage treatment of some of the eight Israelis killed at the Jewish center. Some of them appeared to have strangulation marks and wounds on their bodies did not come from gunshots or grenades, Rakesh Maria, a joint commissioner of police in Mumbai, told reporters.

He said interrogation of the survivor among the attackers had provided new evidence identifying another operative of the Lashkar-e-Taiba group said to have indoctr….

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http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/12/04/asia/05mumbai.php

Obama Unveils His National Security Team

December 1, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama called for “a new dawn of American leadership” on Monday as he formally introduced his national security team, led by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as his nominee for secretary of state.

“We will strengthen our capacity to defeat our enemies and support our friends,” Mr. Obama said in Chicago. “We will renew old alliances and forge new and enduring partnerships.”

By David Stoud
The New York Times

The new president said he was sticking to his goal of removing American combat troops from Iraq within 16 months, which he called “the right time frame,” and that this would be accomplished with safety for the troops and security for the Iraqi people.

He introduced his team one by one, starting with Senator Clinton, his former bitter rival for the Democratic presidential nomination; then Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who will stay on, at least for a time, in the new administration; Gen. James L. Jones, the former NATO commander, to be national security adviser; Gov. Janet Napolitano of Arizona to be secretary of homeland security: Susan E. Rice to be ambassador to the United Nations, and Eric H. Holder Jr. to be attorney general.

Jim Wilson/The New York Times

President-elect Barack Obama presented his national security team at a news conference in Chicago on Monday.

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http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/02/us/politics/02obama.html?_r=1&hp

Mumbai: Condoleezza Rice Tells Pakistan To Fully Cooperate, Investigate

December 1, 2008

The United States has told Pakistan it expects nothing short of complete cooperation in investigations into the terrorist rampage in nuclear rival India. Pakistan’s response will be a test of the will of the new civilian government, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Monday.

In Nov. 8, 2008 file photo U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza ... 
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice listens to a question during a news conference. President George W. Bush on Sunday, Nov. 30, 2008 dispatched Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to New Delhi in support of India following the terrorist attacks that killed nearly 200 people, including six Americans.(AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas/file)

“What we are emphasizing to the Pakistani government is the need to follow the evidence wherever it leads,” Rice said. “I don’t want to jump to any conclusions myself on this, but I do think that this is a time for complete, absolute, total transparency and cooperation and that’s what we expect.”

At President George W. Bush’s direction, Rice is cutting short a European trip to visit India later this week. Attacks spanning three days killed more than 170 people in the Indian commercial capital Mumbai, including six Americans.

Indian leaders pointed fingers at “elements in Pakistan” although it is not yet clear where the well-planned operation originated.

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081201/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/
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Today’s Announcements: Obama’s Handpicked Team for a Foreign Policy Shift

December 1, 2008

When President-elect Barack Obama introduces his national security team on Monday, it will include two veteran cold warriors and a political rival whose records are all more hawkish than that of the new president who will face them in the White House Situation Room.

By David E. Sanger
The New York Times

Yet all three of his choices — Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as the rival turned secretary of state; Gen. James L. Jones, the former NATO commander, as national security adviser, and Robert M. Gates, the current and future defense secretary — have embraced a sweeping shift of priorities and resources in the national security arena.

Damon Winter/The New York Times

Barack Obama’s national security team is to include, from left, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Gen. James L. Jones, a retired Marine commandant.

The shift would create a greatly expanded corps of diplomats and aid workers that, in the vision of the incoming Obama administration, would be engaged in projects around the world aimed at preventing conflicts and rebuilding failed states. However, it is unclear whether the financing would be shifted from the Pentagon; Mr. Obama has also committed to increasing the number of American combat troops.Whether they can make the change — one that Mr. Obama started talking about in the summer of 2007, when his candidacy was a long shot at best — “will be the great foreign policy experiment of the Obama presidency,” one of his senior advisers said recently.

The adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, said the three have all embraced “a rebalancing of America’s national security portfolio” after a huge investment in new combat capabilities during the Bush years.

Denis McDonough, a senior Obama foreign policy adviser, cast the issue slightly differently in an interview on Sunday.

“This is not an experiment, but a pragmatic solution to a long-acknowledged problem,” he said. “During the campaign the then-senator invested a lot of time reaching out to retired military and also younger officers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan to draw on lessons learned. There wasn’t a meeting that didn’t include a discussion of the need to strengthen and integrate the other tools of national power to succeed against unconventional threats. It is critical to a long-term successful and sustainable national security strategy in the 21st century.” Mr. Obama’s advisers said they were already bracing themselves for the charge from the right that he is investing in social work, even though President Bush repeatedly promised such a shift, starting in a series of speeches in late 2005. But they also expect battles within the Democratic Party over questions like whether the billion dollars in aid to rebuild Afghanistan that Mr. Obama promised during the campaign should now be spent on job-creation projects at home.

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http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/01/us/
politics/01policy.html?_r=1&hp

Hillary At State And Obama: Never hire someone you can’t afford to fire

November 29, 2008

One rule of employee relations? Never hire someone you can’t afford to fire. Barack Obama’s offer to let Hillary Clinton be secretary of state has already been marked down as a brilliant co-option of his former rival. But nothing comes for free, and the question is just how big a price Mr. Obama will pay in the end.

Wall Street Journal Editorial/Commentary
By Kimberley Strassel

[Potomac Watch] 
Associated Press

For now, he is getting only praise for his surprise pick. The move fits neatly into the media narrative that Mr. Obama is drafting a team that will challenge his thinking. It’s also being described as a gesture that could heal party wounds and mollify Clinton supporters Mr. Obama never won to his side.

The actual motivation? Short term, Mr. Obama understands his real struggles are going to be in the Senate, where he will need 60 votes. Left there with nothing but a potential future run against Mr. Obama, Mrs. Clinton would be tempted to use her position to highlight her differences with the sitting president. Even as a junior senator, she could gum up his works. Mr. Obama does not need that.

The job at State all but eliminates this threat. As the nation’s top diplomat, Mrs. Clinton will be barred, both by law and by custom, from partisan politics. She’ll have to dismantle her extensive political operation, and end the patronage that has earned her continued loyalty.

There’s arguably also not enough time for Mrs. Clinton to make her mark as secretary of state, and find a reason to break with her boss, and piece back together her empire, and get into a presidential race. They both know that in taking this cabinet post, Mrs. Clinton is clearing herself from Mr. Obama’s political path.

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http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122783202017862989.html

National Security Pick: From a Marine to a Mediator

November 29, 2008

James L. Jones, a retired four-star general, was among a mostly Republican crowd watching a presidential debate in October when Barack Obama casually mentioned that he got a lot of his advice on foreign policy from General Jones.

By Helene Cooper
The New York Times

 

“Explain yourself!” some of the Republicans demanded, as General Jones later recalled it.

He did not. A 6-foot-5 Marine Corps commandant with the looks of John Wayne, General Jones is not given to talking about his political bent, be it Republican or Democrat. And yet, he is Mr. Obama’s choice for national security adviser, a job that will make him the main foreign policy sounding board and sage to a president with relatively little foreign policy experience.

The selection of General Jones will elevate another foreign policy moderate to a team that will include Robert M. Gates, a carry-over from the Bush administration, as defense secretary and Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state. By bringing a military man to the White House, Mr. Obama may be trying to cement an early bond with military leaders who regard him with some uneasiness, particularly over his call for rapid troop reductions in Iraq.

But General Jones will also be expected to mediate between rivals, particularly in dealing with Mr. Gates, who has his own power base at the Pentagon, and with Mrs. Clinton, who has told friends that she does not expect the national security adviser to stand between her and the president.

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http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/29/us/politics/
29jones.html?_r=1&hp

In this Sept. 6, 2007 file photo, retired Marine Corps Gen. ... 
In this Sept. 6, 2007 file photo, retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones, chairman of the Iraqi Security Forces Independent Assessment Commission, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Jones, 64, is expected to be announced by Obama next week as part of the president-elect’s national security team, along with Robert Gates as secretary of defense and Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.(AP Photo/Dennis Cook, File)

New Secretary Faces Fixing Under-Resourced State Department

November 15, 2008
On news that president-elect Barack Obama is considering Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of state, Fox News brought out Democratic strategist Bob Bechel this morning who asked, “What does Hillary really want to do?  Get more post offices for the finger lakes region of New York or, as Secretary of state, visit European capitols and China?” In my opinion, this is one of the key problems with the State Department.  The Secretary of State often enjoys being “diplomat and traveler in chief” but often ignores his or her role as a key department head of the U.S. government charged with actually managing the Department of State.  During Condoleezza Rice’s time this came to a head when several of State’s diplomats refused to go to assignments in “hot spots” like Iraq.  These “public servants” were mostly coddled and cajoled while U.S. military volunteers, who take the same oath of service as State’s employees, face discipline when they refuse orders or assignments.  The point is that the next Secretary of State will have to deal with Russia, Iran, Iraq, China, Pakistan the Middle East and a host of other ‘hot spots.”  He or she will have to also get and keep the State Department at Foggy Bottom in line, on track, and in order — or it will become foggier still….

 
Seal of the United States Department of State

 

By Michael Abramowitz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 15, 2008; Page A04

The next secretary of state not only will face the challenge of repairing the nation’s tattered image and grappling with an array of global crises and hot spots, but also must solve a problem closer to home: reforming an under-resourced State Department to handle its growing duties, such as rebuilding war-torn societies, coping with worldwide pandemics and working with other countries to curb global warming.

“In the last eight years, we have significantly reinvented and transformed every national security agency except the Department of State,” said Philip D. Zelikow, who served as counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. “Our core Foreign Service officers and aid officers are not large enough to play the role that’s been cast for them, nor do we have the training establishment to prepare them for their roles.”

Speculation swirled yesterday that President-elect Barack Obama might be ready to offer the secretary of state post to an instantly recognizable star, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). But other contenders apparently remain in the mix, including Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee; New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson; and retiring GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel (Neb.). And after watching a administration whose tenure was marked by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the world appears ready for the nation’s new top diplomat — whomever it may be — to lead the reinvigorated diplomacy Obama has pledged to deliver.

“The next president and the next secretary come into office at a time when our economy is in recession, our military is tied down and our reputation is tarnished,” said Richard N. Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations. “Diplomatic tools are arguably the one set of instruments that are available. It’s a natural moment for American diplomacy.”

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/14/AR2008111403505.html

Hillary Clinton For Secretary of State?

November 14, 2008

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is among the candidates that President-elect Barack Obama is considering for secretary of state, according to two Democratic officials in close contact with the Obama transition team.

By LIZ SIDOTI, Associated Press Writer

Clinton, the former first lady who pushed Obama hard for the Democratic presidential nomination, was rumored to be a contender for the job last week, but the talk died down as party activists questioned whether she was best-suited to be the nation’s top diplomat in an Obama administration.

In this Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008 file photo, Sen. Hillary Rodham ...
In this Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008 file photo, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton D-NY addresses the press after she voted in Chappaqua, NY. Clinton is among the candidates that President-elect Barack Obama is considering for secretary of state, according to two Democratic officials in close contact with the Obama transition team.(AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

The talk resumed in Washington and elsewhere Thursday, a day after Obama named several former aides to President Bill Clinton to help run his transition effort.

The two Democratic officials who spoke Thursday did so on the condition of anonymity to avoid angering Obama and his staff. Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines referred questions to the Obama transition team, which said it had no comment.

Other people frequently mentioned for the State Department job are Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and New Mexico‘s Democratic governor, Bill Richardson.

Obama’s Impact: Global Diplomatic Good Will Rising

November 14, 2008

Buoyed by a groundswell of global good feeling after the election of Barack Obama, current and former U.S. diplomats see a new chance to advance American interests if the next president keeps his promises to devote more resources to the diplomatic corps and foreign aid.

By Nicholas Kralev  
The Washington Times

In e-mails to The Washington Times, diplomats from four continents said good will toward the United States has increased dramatically since Mr. Obama’s election and is already making a difference in their daily work.

John K. Naland, president of the American Foreign Service Association, the diplomats’ union, said it was crucial to bolster the resources devoted to diplomacy to sustain the positive new feelings.

“The expectation of the Foreign Service is that President-elect Obama will follow through on his campaign pledges by asking Congress for additional funding for diplomacy and development assistance,” Mr. Naland said. “Those funds are needed because, without adequate numbers of properly resourced and well-trained diplomats and development professionals, no amount of personal diplomacy by the president, vice president or secretary of state will single-handedly restore our nation’s role as the world’s leader in global affairs.”

The Bush administration, initially bolstered by foreign support after Sept. 11, lost overseas backing after it invaded Iraq. The U.S. image also has suffered from the revelations of abuse at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and because of security measures that have made it difficult for foreigners to visit the United States.

During the campaign, Mr. Obama made a number of promises to boost diplomacy.

In March, he said he would “invest in our civilian capacity to operate alongside our troops in post-conflict zones and on humanitarian and stabilization missions. Instead of shuttering consulates in tough corners of the world, it’s time to grow our Foreign Service and to expand [the U.S. Agency for International Development].”

Mr. Naland said the U.S. “foreign affairs agencies are hobbled by a human-capital crisis.” He cited a report last month by the American Academy of Diplomacy – a body including all living former secretaries of state – that recommended that staffing be increased by 43 percent at the State Department and by 62 percent at USAID.

 President-elect Barack Obama speaks to world leaders from Chicago on Nov. 6. U.S. diplomats from four continents told The Washington Times that good will toward the U.S. has already increased. (Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

The current shortages make it difficult for diplomats to take time off for training, he said. At the same time, more training is necessary given the expanded duties assigned to diplomats in recent years, from nation-building to lobbying for free trade.

“Try something completely new and different, learn a complicated language in 15 minutes, parachute in and instantly hit the ground running, get to know everyone immediately, get everyone to do everything perfectly,” was how one Foreign Service officer in Iraq described the expectations for U.S. diplomats today.

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http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/nov/
14/diplomats-see-boon-of-good-will-since-obama-win/

Obama Picks Experienced Pentagon, State Department Leaders to Assist Transition

November 12, 2008

President-elect Obama has hired former Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Sam Nunn to help shepherd his Pentagon transition, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Former Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., speaks during a news conference ... 
Former Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., speaks during a news conference where he discussed Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama’s plans to stimulate the economy and lead the country in a new direction Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2008.(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Nunn, a former Georgia senator and veteran Democratic defense adviser, was once rumored as a potential running mate for Obama. Transition spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said Nunn will perform “an informal senior adviser role throughout the defense transition process.”

Nunn’s role has been described by others, speaking anonymously because the transition teams have not been announced, as the leader of Obama’s defense transition. Similarly, a senior administration official said former Secretary of State Warren Christopher would advise Obama on his State Department transition.

By ANNE GEARAN, AP Diplomatic Writer

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081112/ap_on_go_pr_wh/
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