Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Aug 18/05 - On a New Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere

PMBComment: as has been expected since Condi Rice was named Secretary of State, President Bush has nominated Tom Shannon as Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs. While one man cannot reverse the many errors that have characterized Bush's Latin policy, clearly Tom's move to State unifies under one roof - for the first time since the 2000 election -Latin America policy formulation and execution - so there can be no more excuses for foul ups like the one we all saw in the aftermath of the recall referendum in Venezuela, or the many blunders that will forever define Roger Noriega's failed tenure.

Tom is a respected diplomat, with extensive Latin exposure. He is understated and quiet, but undeniably cerebral and deliberate. During his years of service in the NSC he not only won the confidence of Dr. Rice (and that of her boss) but he was also exposed to the political intricacies that so many times elude career diplomats. His experience in Venezuela has, and will continue to serve him well, as he now has to deal effectively with a problem that both the Clinton and Bush administrations grossly underestimated. John Maisto, his boss in the US Embassy in Caracas and his predecessor in the NSC job, made a chamberlainesque miscalculation when he dismissed Chavez as a simple charlatan despite full evidence to the contrary. Today the US is confronted on a daily basis by a man that proved Maisto and his infamous doctrine "judge him for his deeds and not for his words" totally wrong. Tom Shannon will have his plate full with the consequences of this grave error. For the sake of many in the region, we wish him well as we welcome his long awaited nomination. PMB

White House Personnel Announcement

President George W. Bush today announced his intention to nominate four individuals and designate two individuals to serve in his Administration:

The President intends to nominate Thomas A. Shannon, Jr., of Virginia, to be Assistant Secretary of State (Western Hemisphere Affairs). A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Mr. Shannon currently serves as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the National Security Council. He previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the Department of State. Prior to that, he was Director of Andean Affairs and as U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS). Mr. Shannon received his bachelor's degree from the College of William and Mary. He later received his M. Phil and D. Phil from Oxford University.