Diplomatic exodus?


The United States is in the midst of losing some of its top diplomats to retirement. Among the departures underway:

US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey left Baghdad last week and will retire from the State Department; US Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker will step down from the job this summer reportedly for health reasons. US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter plans to leave the post this summer after two  years in Islamabad, and retire from the State Department in the fall. And the top US Middle East troubleshooter, Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs Jeff Feltman, retired from the State Department last week to take a top UN post. (Beth Jones is acting Assistant Secretary for Near East affairs since Feltman’s departure.)

All the posts are grueling and the departures, individually, understandable. But is there some larger reason that explains why State is losing so much diplomatic firepower at this time?

“Don’t know,” one retiring diplomat told me. “As you say, each person has a reason; probably best not to seek a trend when there isn’t one.”

(Photo: Jeffrey D. Feltman stepped down from his post of U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs last week, speaking in Lebanon in 2011. Credit: Reuters/ Mohamed Azakir.)

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