Shadow Government

A front-row seat to the Republicans' debate over foreign policy, including their critique of the Biden administration.

Jim Jeffrey: the right man for Iraq mission

The Loop is reporting that President Obama will appoint Jim Jeffrey to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Iraq. I think this is an inspired choice and the most hopeful news to come out of Iraq in some time. Jeffrey has extensive experience with Iraq policy, serving as both deputy chief of Mission and as ...

GENT SHKULLAKU/AFP/Getty Images
GENT SHKULLAKU/AFP/Getty Images
GENT SHKULLAKU/AFP/Getty Images

The Loop is reporting that President Obama will appoint Jim Jeffrey to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Iraq. I think this is an inspired choice and the most hopeful news to come out of Iraq in some time. Jeffrey has extensive experience with Iraq policy, serving as both deputy chief of Mission and as the State Department's Iraq Coordinator, and this first-hand knowledge will be a very useful asset.

I had some doubts about Chris Hill, Obama's first choice to be ambassador to Iraq. I think a charitable assessment is that Hill has not been as bad as I feared but also not as successful as his predecessor, Ryan Crocker. If Tom Ricks is right it has been a lot worse than that.  

The recent news out of Iraq has been troubling and there are ominous warnings that the political paralysis in Baghdad could lead to a revival of more virulent sectarianism. Of course, the situation in Iraq is nowhere near as dire as it was in 2006, but that is due in part, I believe, to the efforts of the U.S. country team in Baghdad, especially during the critical 2007-2008 years. As U.S. involvement in Iraq shifts to more of an advisory role, the need for a strong and capable ambassador -- one who can cooperate effectively with both the U.S. military and our Iraqi partners (both inside and outside the government) -- is acute.

The Loop is reporting that President Obama will appoint Jim Jeffrey to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Iraq. I think this is an inspired choice and the most hopeful news to come out of Iraq in some time. Jeffrey has extensive experience with Iraq policy, serving as both deputy chief of Mission and as the State Department’s Iraq Coordinator, and this first-hand knowledge will be a very useful asset.

I had some doubts about Chris Hill, Obama’s first choice to be ambassador to Iraq. I think a charitable assessment is that Hill has not been as bad as I feared but also not as successful as his predecessor, Ryan Crocker. If Tom Ricks is right it has been a lot worse than that.  

The recent news out of Iraq has been troubling and there are ominous warnings that the political paralysis in Baghdad could lead to a revival of more virulent sectarianism. Of course, the situation in Iraq is nowhere near as dire as it was in 2006, but that is due in part, I believe, to the efforts of the U.S. country team in Baghdad, especially during the critical 2007-2008 years. As U.S. involvement in Iraq shifts to more of an advisory role, the need for a strong and capable ambassador — one who can cooperate effectively with both the U.S. military and our Iraqi partners (both inside and outside the government) — is acute.

If the Loop report is accurate, President Obama may well have found such an ambassador and I hope he has a speedy confirmation.

Peter D. Feaver is a professor of political science and public policy at Duke University, where he directs the Program in American Grand Strategy.

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