Inspector general’s report praises Sudan envoy Scott Gration
The administration’s special envoy to Sudan, retired Maj. Gen. J. Scott Gration, may have more than his fair share of critics in Washington, but according to a new Inspector General’s report, he enjoys not only a special relationship with President Obama but also greatly expanded control over Sudan-related resources at the State Department. The report ...
The administration's special envoy to Sudan, retired Maj. Gen. J. Scott Gration, may have more than his fair share of critics in Washington, but according to a new Inspector General's report, he enjoys not only a special relationship with President Obama but also greatly expanded control over Sudan-related resources at the State Department.
The administration’s special envoy to Sudan, retired Maj. Gen. J. Scott Gration, may have more than his fair share of critics in Washington, but according to a new Inspector General’s report, he enjoys not only a special relationship with President Obama but also greatly expanded control over Sudan-related resources at the State Department.
The report describes Gration’s shop as an example of the consolidation of power at State among Secretary Hillary Clinton‘s various envoys and personal confidants, which necessarily means taking personnel and responsibilities out of the hands of the regional bureaus.
In some examples, such as the reported battle between Afghanistan-Pakistan envoy Richard Holbrooke and Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Richard Boucher over who would control the bureau staff, the shift of power has not gone down smoothly.
But the Sudan case is a positive example of cooperation, the IG says, and represents a unique difference between Gration (who has come under fire for his unique views on engaging Khartoum) and the four Sudan envoys who came before him:
In previous years, notwithstanding the enormous efforts the United States made to help in Sudan, there was questionable cooperation between special envoys and assistant secretaries of the Bureau of African Affairs (AF)…
No sooner had the President named the Special Envoy for Sudan, than the Department’s way of doing business in Sudan was reorganized. The old AF Sudan Program Group (AF/SPG) was attached to the Secretary of State’s office under a new title, S/USSES. It includes not only Sudan policy but the Sudan desk and the backstopping responsibilities that geographic desks have.
The IG’s office also sees benefits of consolidating power in the hands of Gration:
The institution of Special Envoys is something of a breed apart in the Department, and they have far readier access to the President and Secretary of State than that enjoyed by most ambassadors and geographic assistant secretaries.
In the case of previous Special Envoys for Sudan, and notwithstanding the enormous efforts the United States made to help that country, there was questionable cooperation between envoys and assistant secretaries.
But the IG calls for Gration’s shop to formalize the arrangement by producing a document spelling out exactly how the Sudan desk, which now reports to him, should be interacting with the Africa bureau, on the grounds that "it remains to be seen how well the Sudan country desk can operate outside the geographic bureau."
And while the IG’s office commends Gration’s office for its active pursuit of a resolution to the many crises in Sudan, the report notes pointedly, "It is far too early to say whether energetic diplomacy can sway the Sudanese Government."
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin
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