Saturday, January 19, 2008

Huh. Nick Burns resigns from State Dept.

Leaving for "personal reasons."

R. Nicholas Burns, the State Department's third-ranking official and one of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's closest aides, said he would leave his post in March for personal reasons. Appearing next to Rice at the State Department, Burns said his decision to leave the foreign service was "just about the most difficult decision I've ever had to make. But I do so with the conviction that after 26 years in government service it's time for me to meet my obligations to my wife and three daughters and it's time to pursue other ventures outside the government."

As the undersecretary of State for political affairs, Burns led U.S. efforts to use inducements and deterrents to deal with Iran's nuclear programs. He also pushed for completion of a groundbreaking U.S.-India civil nuclear deal, and tried to defuse the brewing crisis over Kosovo's drive to break away from Serbia.But U.S. efforts on Iran have lost international credibility, and the nuclear deal with India has been obstructed by politics in that country. Kosovo's majority ethnic Albanians and Serbs are at an impasse, and some observers fear a violent upheaval there.

Conservatives have seen Burns as a symbol of what they consider a dangerous drift by the administration toward a policy of appeasement.

And I would tend to agree with them on this point.