CFR closing in on Gelb's successor

By CHRISTIAN BOURGE, UPI Think Tank Correspondent  |  Dec. 18, 2002 at 9:00 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- The Council on Foreign Relations is still in the process of deciding who will replace Leslie H. Gelb, who has been president of the foreign policy-centered think tank for the last decade. It has been know for months that Gelb will be leaving CFR in January 2003.

A source at CFR indicated that the committee reviewing candidates who would replace Gelb -- formerly a ranking official at the U.S. Departments of State and Defense and a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist -- will make its choice sometime in late January or early February.

Several contenders, however, are rumored to top the list of possible choices. They include Arnold Kanter, undersecretary of state in the administration of George H.W. Bush and a founder of the Scowcroft Group; Sylvia Mathews, former deputy chief of staff in the Clinton White House, who is presently with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Edward P. Djerijian, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel and Syria and assistant secretary of state for Middle Eastern Affairs in the Clinton administration, who is now the director of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University; and Richard Haass, head of policy planning at the State Department, veteran of the National Security Council and the Pentagon, and the former head of foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution.

According to sources with close ties to CFR, Haass is the most likely choice for a number of reasons beyond the intellectual firepower he would bring to the role. A key reason is that the board of the CFR is said to be concerned about the perception that CFR has shifted to the left in recent years, and may be seeking to recruit a Republican president like Haass to balance the image that the organization has become too Wilsonian.

Haass did not return phone calls for comment, but several foreign policy analysts, who asked to remain anonymous, indicated that he has been unhappy in his position at the Department of State. Although the department has been mired in foreign policy crises nearly from the beginning of the Bush administration, Haass has reportedly not been given the authority he would need to truly influence policymaking in an administration where little credence is typically given to ideas generated outside of the president's inner circle.

One fellow Republican foreign policy analyst said that Haas's dissatisfaction at the State Department was rooted in the department's lack of a strong hand in the foreign policy process of this administration, and its inability to match its clout when its approach was strongly shaped by the ideas of George Kennan, the legendary head of long-range planning at the State Department after World War II and the architect of the "containment" policy that drove America's Cold War strategy toward the Soviet Union.

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