September 24, 2018

Our New Man in Sudan

Barack Obama’s got a new point man in Sudan. On March 31 the U.S. president announcedthat Princeton Lyman, a retired ambassador with a diplomatic pedigree as distinguished as his name, will replace J. Scott Gration as his special envoy to the war-torn country. Lyman’s credentials are strong. He has been working the Sudan file since last August, so he will hit the ground running. And unlike Gration, who had no diplomatic experience before Obama appointed him, Lyman’s tenure as the U.S. ambassador to South Africa during the transition from apartheid gives him keen insight into dealing with a delicate, complicated situation. There will be no more “cookies and gold stars” gaffes from here on out.

But none of that means Lyman will succeed in his mission. In theory, the appointment of yet another special envoy signals Obama’s commitment to prioritize Sudan among competing foreign-policy issues. At best, a special envoy should be able to coordinate Sudan policy across various agencies to avoid the stovepiping problem that so often plagues the U.S. government. But a review of the envoys to date suggests that theory is one thing, bureaucratic reality quite another. Read the rest of the article as it appeared.

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