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F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 2 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L
State’s Iraq Transition
As the last American soldiers left
Iraq in December, the State Depart-
ment was poised to officially take up
its greatest overseas operation since
the Marshall Plan: the transition from
a predominantly military U.S. pres-
ence to civilian engagement in Iraq.
Though Embassy Baghdad is the
largest, costliest and one of the most
heavily fortified U.S. diplomatic mis-
sions in the world, this undertaking is
sure to test both the department and
the Foreign Service.
“This is clearly something that the
State Department has never done be-
fore,” Under Secretary of State for
Management and Resources Patrick
Kennedy, who oversees the enormous
Iraq transition portfolio, told Reuters
on Dec. 18. “We have excellent people
at the State Department with manage-
ment, acquisitions, logistical, security,
communications and medical skills,”
Kennedy added. “We are ready.”
Not everyone is as confident as Mr.
Kennedy. “I think there is a lot of very
serious concern about the depart-
ment’s ability to take the lead on all of
this, given the cuts it has faced over the
years and how difficult it has been for
them to operate in semi-war zones,”
Brian Katulis, a security expert at the
Center for American Progress, told
Not the least of the challenges for
State is the fact that the withdrawal of
U.S. troops is not synonymous with the
end of the IraqWar. As we go to press,
explosive sectarian battles continue, as
do bomb blasts within the heavily for-
tified “Green Zone” of Baghdad.
Meanwhile, the country’s already
shaky coalition government was plung-
ed into yet another serious political cri-
sis at year’s end, and Iraqi Prime Min-
ister Nuri al-Maliki appears to be
moving against political rivals and op-
ponents, even at the cost of stoking
ethnic and sectarian tensions.
As Harvard Professor Meghan
O’Sullivan points out in a Dec. 21
Bloomberg commentary, Iraq’s nas-
cent political institutions have not yet
gelled, so vital political issues, such as
disagreements over Iraq’s federal char-
acter, remain unresolved.
But there is consensus on one thing,
at least: most Iraqis long ago stopped
seeing Americans as heroes and liber-
ators. Consequently, managing con-
tinued U.S. engagement promises to
be a formidable task.
While there has been very little dis-
cussion of it, preparations for the tran-
sition have been under way for more
than a year under the direction of Am-
bassador Patricia Haslach, who is
based in Washington, D.C. State’s
transition operation is expected to in-
volve some 16,000 individuals: about
2,000 members of the Foreign Service
and other federal employees, and
14,000 contractors, half of them secu-
rity personnel.
Only a small number of U.S. mili-
tary personnel will remain in Iraq to
here is nothing inevitable about Europe’s decline. But we are
standing on the edge of a precipice. This is the scariest moment
of my ministerial life, but therefore also the most sublime.
I demand of Germany that, for your own sake and for ours, you help it
[the euro zone] survive and prosper. You know full well that nobody else
can do it.
I will probably be the first Polish foreign minister in history to say so,
but here it is: I fear German power less than I am beginning to fear
German inactivity.
Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, speaking in Berlin on
Nov. 28, 2011; quoted in Der Spiegel (