The Foreign Service Journal - September 2017
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Security in 2014. DS Deputy Assistant

Secretary for International Programs

Christian Schurman will take on the job

of acting assistant secretary.

Slow Pace of

Nominations Affects



n Washington, D.C., and all around

the world, key U.S. diplomatic post-

ings remain unfilled.

AFSA’s ambassador tracker indicates

that 50 out of 188 positions were vacant

as of early August (excluding countries

that do not have a diplomatic relation-

ship with the United States). Vacant, in

this instance, means that no one has

been nominated or confirmed for the

position of ambassador.

While the embassies without an

ambassador are being ably led by career

diplomats acting as chief of mission or

chargé d’affaires, foreign governments

take note when the ambassador post in

their capitals remain vacant. As of press

time, Pres. Trump has only put forward

36 nominations.

As Ambassador (ret.) Ronald Neu-

mann, president of the American Acad-

emy of Diplomacy, noted to CNN, the process for confirming an ambassador can be lengthy—from financial disclo-

sure forms to security checks and writ-

ten questions from senators—so most

administrations prepare a list of nomi-

nees well ahead of time. Not this one.

The shortage of ambassadors “affects

our capacity to deal with crises when we

don’t have people that the president can

call on,” says Terry Sullivan, a politi-

cal scientist at the University of North

Carolina at Chapel Hill. “Something that

blows up in North Korea doesn’t just

blow up in North Korea. It blows up for

India. It blows up for Saudi Arabia. It

blows up for Germany, because we are

connected to all of those places.”

Keep checking AFSA’s website, www. for the most up-

to-date information about nominations

and appointments of career and political


War Crimes and Cyber

Offices Shuttered


lthough Sec. Tillerson stated that

the reorganization of the State

Department had no “predetermined

outcomes,” it appears that key decisions

about department offices may have

already been made.

According to Foreign Policy

, the

special coordinator of the Office of

Global Criminal Justice has been reas-

Foreign policy is what is going to determine our success or failure

as a nation. The convoluted security situation the United States

faces today can only be solved with a good framework of foreign policy.

We can have the greatest military in the world. But if we don’t have

clarity in our political objectives, if we haven’t properly resourced the

State Department, if our foreign policy and our allies aren’t strong,

we’ll never be successful. … I view the Department of Defense

as being in support of the Department of State.

—General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,

speaking at the 2017 Aspen Security Forum in Colorado, July 22.

Contemporary Quote

signed, effectively closing the office. A

State Department official told



part of the reorganization would involve

folding special envoy offices back in the

bureaus, to streamline the policymaking


Richard Dicker, director of Human

Rights Watch’s international justice

program, said that the move would be a

huge loss for accountability, adding that

the independence of the office gave it

more weight on the international scene.

Another office apparently under threat is the Office of the Coordinato


for Cyber Issues, which will be folded

in to the Bureau for Economic and

Business Affairs. Robert Knake, a senior

fellow for cybersecurity at the Council

on Foreign Relations in Washington,

D.C., described the move as “taking an

issue that’s pre-eminent and putting

it inside a backwater within the State


James Lewis, a senior vice president

at the Center for Strategic and Interna-

tional Studies, noted that cyber security

is a specialized issue; he believes that EB

simply does not have the expertise neces-

sary for the United States to keep up with

the international field.

Governors Do Diplomacy


merican governors have taken


unusual degree of initiative


conducting foreign policy, largely due to

President Trump’s controversial policies

on trade and climate.

Past months have witnessed gover-

nors embarking on high-profile trips

abroad to ease relations with other

countries and stake out independent

policy positions. This year’s Governors’

Association summer meeting also

featured a prominent foreign delegation

from various nations, including Cana-

dian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.