Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Fmr. Secretary of State John Kerry Joins Carnegie Endowment

It was just announced that former Secretary of State John Kerry will be joining the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace as the think tank's inaugural Visiting Distinguished Statesman.

At Carnegie, Secretary Kerry will be focusing on conflict resolution and global environmental challenges, according to a press release.

What is the main reason that Kerry is joining Carnegie and not another big-name think tank like Brookings or Atlantic Council?  The answer appears to be Bill Burns, the current President of Carnegie who served as Deputy Secretary of State in the Obama Administration.

It is a fitting position for Kerry, as the Carnegie Endowment is like a mini-State Department.  The think tank, which has research centers in Washington, DC, Beijing, Beirut, Brussels, Moscow, and New Delhi, has over 100 experts living and working in 20 countries.

Here is more on that from the Boston Globe:
Kerry singled out by name the think tank’s president, former ambassador Bill Burns, as a reason he was drawn to the gig. Kerry first got to know Burns, a longtime foreign service official who served as US ambassador to both Russia and Jordan, when Kerry served as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and was working on opening a secret diplomatic back channel to Iran via Oman. That secret dialogue would bolster Kerry’s ability as Secretary of State to ink an historic nuclear agreement with Iran in 2013.
Burns delayed his retirement as deputy secretary of state several times at the request of Kerry and then-President Obama. He stepped down as the nation’s No. 2 diplomat in October 2014.
In the waning days of the Obama administration, Kerry indicated in interviews with the Globe that he hoped to continue to play a role in world affairs even after he left his formal position as the nation’s top diplomat.

Others connected with Kerry also work at the think tank, including Middle East Program Fellow Perry Cammack, who worked as part of the policy planning staff at the State Department during Kerry's tenure.  Cammack was also a senior professional staff member for then Sen. Kerry on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Just weeks before, it was announced that Kerry will serve as Yale University's first-ever Distinguished Fellow for Global Affairs.

Meanwhile, there are rumors that Jon Huntsman, the Chairman of Atlantic Council, is in the running to be either the next US Ambassador to Russia or the Deputy Secretary of State.

The White House-think tank revolving door has been spinning fast the past few weeks, with a number of think tankers leaving for the Trump Administration and a number of Obama Administration officials finding positions at think tanks.