The Cable

Who will be the next secretary of state?

Being secretary of state is a grueling job; you're on the road most weeks, and often you get a lot less say in your country's foreign policy than you'd like. No wonder running the show in Foggy Bottom tends to be a four-year gig. So now that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said she can't imagine herself serving another four years after 2012, the obvious question becomes: Who might replace her?

Foreign-policy hands say the choice will depend on what kind of image President Obama wants to project, and what's going on in the world at the time.

"Obama's situation and the state of American foreign policy is extraordinarily fluid right now," said the Council on Foreign Relations' Walter Russell Mead. "His choice will depend on how he wants to engage the world: to kill them with kindness or to take a more aggressive approach."

Here is an initial short list, compiled with help from Cable readers and experts:

Early frontrunner: John Kerry

Kerry has been campaigning for the job since before Obama's election. He looked eminently diplomatic in convincing Afghan President Hamid Karzai to agree to a new election. And his steady stewardship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee seems to have erased doubts about his ability to head an organization.  He's got international profile and his Massachusetts seat is (relatively?) safe.

Gray eminence: Richard Lugar

Lugar is well-respected on both sides of the aisle, has strong nonproliferation credentials, deep expertise on international issues, and has been a staunch defender of the State Department bureaucracy. His appointment would signal Obama's continued commitment to having a bipartisan cabinet. The question will be: As an 80-year-old man in 2012, has he got the vigor to do it?

Waiting in the wings: Jim Steinberg

Steinberg is said to be somewhat disappointed at not getting a higher posting in the first round of the Obama appointments, but he's been amazingly active as deputy secretary of state, injecting himself into almost every issue and taking on Asia as his personal policy domain. He knows the building, which would make for a smooth transition. His reported clashes within the department and throughout the interagency would be his only drawback.

Already in the cabinet: Susan Rice

Rice spends more time in Washington than most of her U.N. ambassador predecessors. With full cabinet rank, she's not shy in playing a role in foreign policy so far, and she benefits from her close personal relationship with Obama. Her appointment would signal a redoubling of the effort toward engagement and international diplomacy. But if times are tough and wars are raging, her chances might be slimmer.

A bridge too far:  Richard Holbrooke/George Mitchell

Either of these senior envoys would have seemed like a logical successor to Clinton a year ago. Both men are grand poobahs of the foreign policy establishment, but their respective efforts to solve major international problems have thus far met with limited success. If either the situations in Afghanistan or the Middle East were to vastly improve between now and 2012, however, their stock would go straight up.

Always the bridesmaid: Chuck Hagel

A media darling, Hagel's name is always floated when one of these opportunities come up. Fiercely independent and blunt, his style never seemed to match up with the academic intellectualism of Obama. What's more, he reportedly turned down high-level ambassadorships because he didn't want to travel, so it's doubtful he would be in serious consideration.

Dark horse: Gen. David Petraeus

When Petraeus's term as head of Central Command winds down, there will be nationwide speculation about his next role. If the international atmosphere is one of danger and uncertainty, Petraeus's stature could help him overcome concerns about having a military man be the face of American foreign policy. Obama has also shown a willingness to co-opt potential presidential rivals, and the general has been regularly mooted as a Republican contender in 2012 -- notwithstanding his vigorous disavowals of any political ambitions.


The Cable

Congress weighs in on foreign-aid reform

As officials at the State Department and USAID continue to wrangle over what to do with America's top development agency, lawmakers are pushing their own ideas for reform. Soon, the State Department could have its first authorization bill since 2002, a policy blueprint that could include significant input from Capitol Hill.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee leaders John Kerry, D-MA, and Richard Lugar, R-IN, introduced a State Department policy bill for both fiscal 2010 and fiscal 2011 today. The introduction comes just days before the release of the administration's fiscal 2011 State Department budget request and in the middle of important foreign operations policy reviews both at State and in the White House.

"This is the first time in eight years that the Foreign Relations Committee will pass a State Department authorization bill, and we do so at a critical moment," Kerry said in a statement. "This is precisely the moment when our investment in diplomacy is most needed and this bill provides our diplomatic corps with essential tools, authorities and resources to succeed in the tough jobs we continually require of them."

Here is the text of the bill and a fact sheet put out by the committee.

The question remains whether or not this authorization bill will become the vehicle for the Kerry-Lugar foreign aid reform bill that their committee marked up in November. That legislation has very different ideas of how to structure USAID than what's expected to come out of the two main reviews related to U.S. development policy, State's Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review and the NSC's Presidential Study Directive on Global Development.

Lugar gave a major speech on the Senate's ideas about foreign aid reform at last night's gala event hosted by the Society for International Development, where he emphasized the Senate's view that development and diplomacy should be distinct and separate.

"Differences of opinion exist with regard to who should be performing development functions and how these activities should be integrated into our broader foreign policy efforts. We have not reached a consensus within our government on who should be doing what, where, when and why," Lugar said.

"As we debate these issues, we should keep in mind that diplomacy and development are two distinct disciplines. Although diplomacy and development often can be mutually reinforcing, at their core, they have different priorities, resource requirements, and time horizons."

Lugar's message was basically directed at State Department officials who have been talking about the "integration" of development and diplomacy, an idea that the development community is resisting. Lugar also said USAID must have control over its own budget and policy formations, both functions that were stripped from the agency during the Bush administration.

State's Policy Planning chief Anne-Marie Slaughter tried to allay the fears in the development community about the upcoming QDDR in remarks at an event Thursday hosted by the U.N. Development Programme.

"Integrating is not the bad word that many people fear it is. It doesn't at all mean collapsing development and diplomacy into one another or subsuming one to the other," she said.

But she would not say whether she supported USAID having the authority to made budget or policy decisions on its own.

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