The Washington Post

Bush Iraq aide pens ‘Ideal Qualities of a Successful Diplomat’

U.S. Ambassador to India Robert Blackwill Bob Blackwill at a conference when he was ambassador to India. (AP Photo/Ajit Kumar) U.S. Ambassador to India Robert  Blackwill at a conference when he was ambassador to India. (AP/Ajit Kumar)

When last we checked in on career diplomat Bob Blackwill, the former ambassador to India who abruptly resigned his post as the White House’s top official on Iraq policy was at  a D.C. lobbying firm.

That move, in November 2004, came  after then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice scolded him over an alleged incident in which he verbally abused and physically hurt a female embassy staffer during a visit to Iraq in September.

The incident at the Kuwait airport occurred when Air France told Blackwill, who was rushing to return home, that he was not on the flight manifest. Blackwill allegedly grabbed the embassy aide’s arm. There were conflicting accounts of what happened, but Rice, we were told, wanted to ensure that Blackwill treated his subordinates appropriately. (One official said at the time that the incident and Blackwill’s later departure were unrelated.)

When he was in India, Blackwill was dinged by two State Department inspector general’s reports about his management and the plunging morale among embassy staff.

Blackwill, widely considered a brilliant guy, was a “prickly, demanding boss,” our colleague Bob Woodward wrote in his book “State of Denial, Bush at War, Part III,” and “often referred to himself as Godzilla.”

Well, he seems to be doing quite well these days, judging from an e-mail we got from him Wednesday. He’s now an “international council member” at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School.

“I am pleased to share with you a paper I recently wrote entitled, “Ideal Qualities of a Successful Diplomat,” the e-mail says. “Drawing from my experiences in the United States government at home and abroad, I outline fifteen characteristics that I believe are fundamental for successful diplomats.”

The generally harmless bromides — “write well and quickly. . . be verbally  fluent and concise. . . study history” — include an instruction to “prudently speak your opinion to power.” Blackwill adds: “But choose your dissenting moments wisely.” And if you really object to the policy, “don’t whine. Resign.”

Nothing about treating your subordinates well?

 

 

 

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
The Republicans debated Saturday night. The New Hampshire primary is Feb. 9. Get caught up on the race.
Highlights from Saturday's GOP debate
Except for an eminent domain attack from Bush, Trump largely avoided strikes from other candidates.

Christie went after Rubio for never having been a chief executive and for relying on talking points.

Carson tried to answer a question on Obamacare by lamenting that he hadn't been asked an earlier question about North Korea.
The GOP debate in 3 minutes
Listen
Play Video
Quoted
We have all donors in the audience. And the reason they're booing me? I don't want their money!
Donald Trump, after the debate crowd at St. Anselm's College booed him for telling Jeb Bush to be "quiet."
Listen
Play Video
New Hampshire polling averages
Donald Trump holds a commanding lead in the next state to vote, but Marco Rubio has recently seen a jump in his support, according to polls.
New Hampshire polling averages
A victory in New Hampshire revitalized Hillary Clinton's demoralized campaign in 2008. But this time, she's trailing Bernie Sanders, from neighboring Vermont. She's planning to head Sunday to Flint, Mich., where a cost-saving decision led to poisonous levels of lead in the water of the poor, heavily black, rust-belt city. 
55% 38%
Upcoming debates
Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

Campaign 2016
State of the race

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.