The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Demotion or Intelligent Move?


January 4, 2007

Reports out today indicate that John Negroponte is planning to leave his job as Director of National Intelligence to become Deputy Secretary of State.

This is a very curious move, one that leaves me scratching my head just a bit. The move is clearly a step down. Negroponte will be leaving a newly created, cabinet-level, highly powerful, high-profile position that is central to the GWOT to be come a Deputy, the number two person in State which, of late, has suffered and chaffed behind DoD and the Intel community under the Bush Administration.

On the one hand, maybe its a smart move. Negroponte is a diplomat at heart, a career Foreign Service Officer who has held several high-profile Ambassador posts. Given his recent posting to Iraq, perhaps he will be given a wide mandate to run the “new” Iraq policy Bush is set to announce. His high profile and political heft from his previous jobs may allow him to implement a policy across agencies.

On the other hand, maybe its a demotion and bad move. DNI is a very important position, one that needs a strong occupant to define the parameters of the new office. Perhaps Negroponte wasn’t doing as good of a job as needed there. Yet, this move now leaves the DNI without its top 2 officials. The Deputy DNI was Gen. Hayden, he recently left to become head of the CIA, and that job remains unfilled. This leaves a critical gap at the top of the US intelligence community.

At this point, I’m just not sure what to make of it.

UPDATE: Dan Drezner asks the same question and links to some interesting speculation.

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Dr. Peter Howard focuses on US foreign policy and international security. He studies how the implementation of foreign policy programs produces rule-based regional security regimes, conducting research in Estonia on NATO Expansion and US Military Exchange programs and South Korea on nuclear negotiations with North Korea.