The Cable

David McKean to be State Department director of policy planning

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has asked David McKean to be the next director of the Policy Planning office at the State Department, two senior State Department officials confirmed.

McKean, who was the chief of staff in Kerry's Senate office from 1999 to 2008, became Kerry's first staff director on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2009. In 2011, McKean left Congress to be a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. In April 2012, he moved over to the State Department to become Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's senior advisor dealing with implementation of the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), State's first foray into setting up a mechanism for regular strategic and bureaucratic planning. He has also worked as the CEO of the John F. Kennedy library in Boston.

Kerry and McKean go way back.

"McKean was a key player in laying the groundwork for the Senator's presidential campaign in 2004, and was a co-chairman of the senator's presidential transition team," McKean's State Department biography reads.

McKean replaces Jake Sullivan, who was dual-hatted as Clinton's director of Policy Planning and her deputy chief of staff -- titles that, if anything, understated his personal closeness to Clinton.

Sullivan is said to be headed to the office of Vice President Joe Biden to replace Tony Blinken, who took over as principal deputy national security advisor for Denis McDonough, who is now the White House chief of staff. (White House sources say Sullivan's move to OVP is not yet finalized.) Sullivan is also said to want to return to Minnesota to start a political career.

Sullivan's time as Policy Planning director was characterized by his effort to move that office away from the job of implementing the QDDR and toward a focus on more over-the-horizon planning for U.S. foreign policy in the mid to long term. That body of work could come in handy if and when Clinton decides to run for the presidency in 2016.

McKean's appointment could signal a return of focus for the Policy Planning shop to the nuts-and-bolts mission of cementing the reorganization of the State Department and USAID bureaucracy, which was the focus of Clinton's first Policy Planning director, Princeton University professor Anne-Marie Slaughter.

"I take David's appointment as an important signal that Secretary Kerry intends to continue and build on Secretary Clinton's decision to have a Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review. David McKean has been tasked with the implementation of the first QDDR... he will now be in the position to help design and oversee the second," Slaughter told The Cable. "For these reviews to have any impact, it is important that the person in charge be close to the secretary and determined to implement the secretary's longer-term agenda, which David is."

"It's also a signal that Kerry wants to continue to elevate development, because the significance of the QDDR is not just a 4 year planning exercise and strategic review, but that it knits diplomacy and development together as core pillars of foreign policy that Secretary Clinton wanted to make as equal as possible," she added.

In 1997 and 1998 McKean served as the minority staff director for the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. McKean taught at the Waterford Kamhlaba School in Swaziland from 1981-1982, according to his State Department bio.

McKean is the author of three books on American political history: Friends in High Places (with Douglas Frantz), Tommy the Cork, and The Great Decision (with Cliff Sloan). He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1980, and holds graduate degrees from both the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and Duke Law School, his bio states.

The Cable

Kerry uses first speech to defend State Department budget

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry used his first major speech since taking office to argue that the State Department and its activities serve U.S. communities here at home, an effort to defend the budgets for diplomacy and development against an axe-wielding Congress.

Kerry chose the University of Virginia, the school founded by Thomas Jefferson, America's first secretary of state, as the site of his first address.

"So why is it that I'm at the foot of the Blue Ridge instead of on the shores of the Black Sea? Why am I in Old Cabell Hall and not Kabul, Afghanistan?" Kerry said. "The reason is very simple: I came here to underscore that in today's global world, there is no longer anything foreign about foreign policy. More than ever before, the decisions we make from the safety of our shores don't just ripple outward - they also create a current right here in America."

He described the work of the State Department as not just security-related, but also crucial to promoting the U.S. economy and creating jobs.

"It's not just about whether we'll be compelled to send our troops into another battle, but whether we'll be able to send our graduates into a thriving workforce," he said. "That's why I'm here."

Kerry's emphasis marks a shift away from the focus of his predecessor, Hillary Clinton, who worked in her first two years to emphasize that the State Department and USAID budgets were part of the national security function of government. Later in her tenure, after Republicans took control of Congress and began rolling back the budget increases at State and USAID, Clinton expanded the State Department's emphasis on "economic statecraft."

This year, the State Department faces not only a tough budget environment, but also the threat of so-called sequestration, which Kerry warned this week could force the State Department to stop humanitarian aid to millions of people, cut foreign assistance to Israel, and delay efforts to ramp up diplomatic security abroad after the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi.

Kerry said Wednesday that the total State Department and foreign aid budget amounts to just over 1 percent of the federal budget, although critics often inflate that number. He also said that battling for foreign policy funding is made more difficult due to the fact that those funds have almost no domestic constituency or high-profile political advocates.

"Unfortunately, the State Department doesn't have our own Grover Norquist pushing a pledge to protect it," Kerry said. "We don't have millions of AARP seniors who send in their dues and rally to protect America's investments overseas... We need to change that.  I reject the excuse that Americans just aren't interested in what's happening outside their immediate field of vision."

Kerry emphasized that lifting people in foreign countries out of poverty is not just a reinforcement of American values but can also create markets for American goods and therefore help the U.S. economy.

"Let me be very clear: Foreign assistance is not a giveaway. It is not charity. It is an investment in a strong America and free world," he said.

He also called on Congress to avoid the sequester, lest it hurt America's credibility abroad.

"Think about it: It is hard to tell the leadership of any number of countries that they must resolve their economic issues if we don't resolve our own," he said. "Let's reach a responsible agreement that prevents these senseless cuts. Let's not lose this opportunity to politics."

Read the whole speech here: