A popular DC parlor game these days is about who is getting what position in the Obama administration. There have been numerous articles about the administration’s foreign policy agenda and what related appointments suggest about the president’s priorities –
Yet, among all this verbiage—
With that void, many are picking up on the water cooler talk about possible appointments and as a way to deduce what direction Obama’s Latin American policies could take.
It’s already well known that Tom Shannon is asked to continue “for the time being” as assistant secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs. What does “for the time being” mean?
Shannon, a career officer, is highly respected in the region and in
So, who’s in the running to replace
A caveat: all these rumblings may be sourced back to just a couple Hill staffers—and put forward by interested parties that want to see these people heading the
But, after a survey among many Latin Americanists and other gossipmongers/reporters—here are some top names in this parlor game:
Arturo Valenzuela, ostensibly the strongest candidate, is very close to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton having worked in her husband’s administration and served as a key foreign policy adviser to
Julia Sweig, who was also very much involved in
Nelson Cunningham, managing partner at McLarty Associates;
Harriet Babbitt, former ambassador to the Organization of American States; and
Mark Schneider, now at the International Crisis Group and former assistant administrator for Latin America at USAID during the
Another person to watch out for—and to never count out—is Bill Richardson.
Obviously, if he was brought back in, it would have to be for a post that wouldn’t require Senate confirmation…such as a special envoy position! We had numerous envoys under
Last May, Obama said in
But, there’s also a strong desire to promote from within the State Department ranks to boost the low morale at Foggy Bottom.
Anne Patterson, former ambassador to
After all, the appointments of people can send a very clear message to the region—and can be very politically explosive.
Which is not to say that jockeying isn’t intense between the Clinton and Obama camps for all foreign policy positions. It is. A lot of push and pull. Some not very nice.
So far, it appears the Obama loyalists are setting up camp at the NSC, and
Fulton Armstrong, currently working for Senator Chris Dodd, who has long and storied past experience at the NSC and Central Intelligence Agency working on Latin America (notably
Dan Restrepo, a very close adviser to Obama throughout the campaign, but lacks experience in the executive branch. So he’s recently rumored to possibly be considered for a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs position.
Several insiders speculated that Armstrong wants the job very much—but may not want to stay on permanently. Another suggested Armstrong would start out as the senior director, and Restrepo would take the second spot so he could be groomed to eventually succeed Armstrong.
So far—much to the chagrin to many—this is just chit chat among the chattering classes!
Stay tuned. It’s still quite early in the game.
*Liz Harper is an americasquarterly.org contributing blogger based in Washington DC. To reach a blogger, send an email to: email@example.com