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Our New Envoy

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Our New Envoy

Posted by John Norris on March 18, 2009

As most as you have seen by now, President Obama has appointed retired Air Force General Scott Gration as the U.S. envoy for Sudan. A couple thoughts. First and foremost, I don’t think this appointment would have been made as quickly as it was without the significant activist pressure we have seen from all quarters calling for a special envoy. This is why activism has never been more important.

What to make of the pick? There are some clear positives. Gration is a friend and confidant of Obama’s. As a former Air Force general he should carry real weight with the Pentagon in the interagency process, and he certainly is well positioned if a no-fly zone becomes a larger part of the U.S. strategy. Gration also grew up in Congo and traveled with then-Senator Obama to Africa in 2006.

There are also some questions. Will Gration carry the same diplomatic heft as the other new special envoys on the block: Richard Holbrooke; George Mitchell; and Dennis Ross? Does Gration have the right diplomatic skills to forge a multilateral strategy for a comprehensive approach to peace in Sudan? How will Gration work with the State Department?

General, we wish you the very best and want you to succeed.