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State Dept Dumps Career Weapons Experts

Knight Ridder reports that the State Department is dumping or passing over career Foreign Service and Civil Service weapons experts to hire or promote outsiders who are loyal to the Bush Administration. It appears that at least some of the problems are left over from (now UN Ambassador) John Bolton’s reign over arms control policy at State. One of Condi Rice’s best moves was to get him out of the State building, but apparently he left some problems behind for a “realist” foreign policy.

Actually, such personnel shake-ups are not unusual. I left the Foreign Service partly because Clinton and Gore wanted to shrink the government payroll any way they could, and pressured people like me, working on non-proliferation issues, to leave. (Remember those good old days when the President actually worried about how much money the government was spending.) Another reason I left was that the Republicans in Congress were blocking US implementation of its nuclear agreement with North Korea through KEDO. My job as the senior diplomatic working on scientific issues at the American Embassy in Rome turned out to require a lot of time begging Italy and other European countries to donate money to makeup for American shortfalls in funding KEDO because Republicans in Congress didn’t like it. I thought the US should live up to its treaty obligations.

Also, the personnel issues are not unusual. When I worked for then-Assistant Secretary Richard Clarke (of 9/11 fame) in State’s old Politico-Military bureau during the Bush I administration, I got promoted while I was assigned there, based on my performance in my previous job in Brasilia, Brazil. Clarke did not want me to have a supervisory position in his bureau, although my new rank required it. To Clarke’s credit, his opposition was not political. He wanted someone who was a more aggressive bureaucratic infighter than I was. Nevertheless, he finally agreed (grudgingly) to allow me to hold a supervisory position on missile proliferation matters.

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