The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


Cast of Characters

More Special Envoys in the Works

By Al Kamen
The economic downturn has spiked unemployment for just about everyone. But not for a small group of "special" people. We're hearing plans are afoot at the State Department to have a string of "special envoys" appointed to handle top priority trouble areas around the world.

In addition to plans to have former U.N. ambassador Richard Holbrooke become a special envoy for India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, it appears we're going to have a special envoy focusing on Arab-Israeli matters, perhaps retired veteran diplomat Daniel Kurtzer, a former ambassador to Israel and Egypt and now at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

There's also talk that Christopher Hill, now assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, would become special but keep plugging away on the North Korean nukes problem. And Dennis Ross, a close Obama adviser, long-time diplomat and President Clinton's former special envoy to the Middle East, could be special envoy to Iran with maybe a broader portfolio of the Middle East in general.

All these special people are causing a bit of agita amongst the other senior diplomatic types. Special envoys, ambassadors at large, personal representatives and the like are not a new phenomenon amongst the pinstriped set. But the other diplomats assigned to related duties know they have to make some adjustments to work with them.

It's easiest for career folks when the envoy is chosen more for star power or personal connections rather than actual knowledge of the issues. It's a little trickier when, as in the examples mentioned above, the envoys know or, nightmare of nightmares, think they know, what they're doing.

So what do the assistant secretaries generally do when these interlopers pop in? "They clean up after the special envoys," one career diplomat quipped.

Posted at 11:32 AM ET on Dec 12, 2008  | Category:  Cast of Characters
Share This: Technorati talk bubble Technorati | Tag in | Digg This
Previous: Obama Disappointed by Auto Bailout Impasse | Next: Ill. AG Files Motion to Oust Blagojevich

Add 44 to Your Site
Be the first to know when there's a new installment of The Trail. This widget is easy to add to your Web site, and it will update every time there's a new entry on The Trail.
Get This Widget >>


Please email us to report offensive comments.

The comments to this entry are closed.


© 2009 The Washington Post Company