The Cable

The Cable goes inside the foreign policy machine, from Foggy Bottom to Turtle Bay, the White House to Embassy Row.

Clinton escapes Sandy in Algeria

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cleverly avoided being in the path of Hurricane Sandy this week by scheduling an overseas trip to Algeria and the Balkans. Clinton and her team arrived Monday in Algeria, after which they are headed Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, Albania, and Croatia. They’re scheduled to return to Washington on Nov. ...

Getty Images
Getty Images
Getty Images

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cleverly avoided being in the path of Hurricane Sandy this week by scheduling an overseas trip to Algeria and the Balkans.

Clinton and her team arrived Monday in Algeria, after which they are headed Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, Albania, and Croatia. They're scheduled to return to Washington on Nov. 2.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cleverly avoided being in the path of Hurricane Sandy this week by scheduling an overseas trip to Algeria and the Balkans.

Clinton and her team arrived Monday in Algeria, after which they are headed Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, Albania, and Croatia. They’re scheduled to return to Washington on Nov. 2.

Clinton has meetings today with Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, and the potential international intervention in Mali will be high on the agenda. Last month the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution paving the way for an African-led intervention in northern Mali, which is being run by a shaky conglomeration of Islamist groups, including al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which has its roots in Algeria.

There’s no plan yet, butthe international community is looking to Algeria to play a role in the possible intervention in Mali, which could come under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The Algerians might be in a great position to help with the situation in Mali, with which they share an 850 mile border, if they decide to; press reports indicate the Algerian government is "warming to the idea," a senior State Department official told reporters on the plane to Algiers.

"A whole range of countries in the region really look to Algeria for leadership on this. Obviously, they’re not ceding sovereignty, but they know Algeria has unique capabilities that no one else in the region really has," the official said. "The Algerians, of course, were probably one of the first to work against violent extremism with their revolution and working against the Islamists for a decade, a decade of civil war basically. We had a difficult relationship with Algeria during that dark decade, as they call it, but after 9/11 the Algerians turned around and decided they would work with us on counterterrorism."

"I think the bottom line here is that Algeria has always had a strong inclination toward multilateralism. They are going to be supportive of a major effort in Mali to both restore democracy and restore order in the North. Everyone has their favorite institutions to work with, and there’s a lot that has to be sorted out in the geometry of the thing, if you will," a second senior State Department official said.

Clinton will also be doing a bit of economic statecraft while she’s there, pushing the Algerian government to award General Electric a contract to build 31 gas turbines.

"GE is bidding on a huge contract, a $2.5 billion contract in the energy sector. They just won a small piece of that, so they’re very pleased by that. This is a big advocacy effort on the part of the United States government," the first official said.

In the Balkans, Clinton will travel with High Representative for EU Foreign Policy Catherine Ashton, who will join her in Bosnia, Serbia, and Kosovo, where they will discuss the steps those countries need to take to further their integration into European multilateral institutions.

"We have not been shy about saying and being clear that we’re disappointed that the leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina have not put the interests of the country first oftentimes and instead have promoted narrow ethnic or party or personal agendas," a senior State Department official said in a separate briefing focused on that part of the trip.

At the final stop, Croatia, both leaders will congratulate that country for joining NATO and being on the precipice of joining the EU next year.

"Croatia crossed that finish line for NATO, and it’s on the threshold of doing so for the European Union, which would really be a signal to these other countries that we mean what we say," the official said. "Obviously this is for the European Union, not us, when it comes to just the EU, but it means it’s not just leading you on. If you do the things that you’re committed to do and the European Union sets as a standard, then you actually do join."

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 josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

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

More from Foreign Policy

A Panzerhaubitze 2000 tank howitzer fires during a mission in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.
A Panzerhaubitze 2000 tank howitzer fires during a mission in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.

Lessons for the Next War

Twelve experts weigh in on how to prevent, deter, and—if necessary—fight the next conflict.

An illustration showing a torn Russian flag and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
An illustration showing a torn Russian flag and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It’s High Time to Prepare for Russia’s Collapse

Not planning for the possibility of disintegration betrays a dangerous lack of imagination.

An unexploded tail section of a cluster bomb is seen in Ukraine.
An unexploded tail section of a cluster bomb is seen in Ukraine.

Turkey Is Sending Cold War-Era Cluster Bombs to Ukraine

The artillery-fired cluster munitions could be lethal to Russian troops—and Ukrainian civilians.

A joint session of Congress meets to count the Electoral College vote from the 2008 presidential election the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol  January 8, 2009 in Washington.
A joint session of Congress meets to count the Electoral College vote from the 2008 presidential election the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol January 8, 2009 in Washington.

Congrats, You’re a Member of Congress. Now Listen Up.

Some brief foreign-policy advice for the newest members of the U.S. legislature.