Sat, Jan 13, 2001 - Page 8 News List

The roles of US Cabinet deputies

By Nat Bellocchi 白樂崎

President-elect Bush has now completed his Cabinet selections. The new ensemble is clearly one of the strongest and most experienced in recent memory. He has publicly acknowledged that it includes strong personalities who doubtless will differ with each other on specific issues.

Bush has also said he is ready to make the decisions should there be Cabinet disagreements. Clearly he is not going to begin his presidency on the defensive because of the close and contentious results of the election. He has started out somewhat like Ronald Reagan, who would determine the direction he wanted to go, and delegate the details to his Cabinet. We will see much more of this Cabinet than we did of the Clinton one.

This style will likely continue on to the next step -- selecting the deputy secretaries. The theory is that deputies manage the bureaucracy under them while the secretary steers broad policy and represents his department with the president and with the public. With this Cabinet, however, most will have a strong say in this deputy selection process and will choose the person most likely to be compatible with what he or she wants a deputy to do. On that basis, the media already has begun speculating who these might be. Of particular interest to the US-Taiwan relationship are the deputies for national security positions, the deputy secretaries of State and Defense, the ambassador to the UN, and the director of the CIA.

Colin Powell, with his background, will have strong ideas on how he wants to organize the top layer of the State Department and a strong say in who occupies senior positions. Powell has already mentioned the need to tighten management there. Someone near the top with know-how in the culture of diplomacy might be needed, but there has been a suggestion that there be two deputies at State, one for management and another for diplomacy.

Donald Rumsfeld has already been a Secretary of Defense, and he has continued involvement in national security affairs on many committees established by Congress to study specific issues. Recently this has included both missile defense and satellite warfare. He will know what he wants to do, and what he wants a deputy to do, and he'll get his way.

The US ambassador to the UN is a high-profile position that the new president could elevate, or not, to Cabinet level depending, at least initially, on Powell's views. During the Cold War, the UN existed in a world of its own, but with the changes that have come about since then, including the many peacekeeping responsibilities, considerable substantive importance is attached to this prominent position.

The director of the Central Intelligence Agency, who heads not only the CIA, but the entire government intelligence community, does not have policy responsibilities, nor is he usually of Cabinet rank. This depends on the president, however. Reagan, for instance, elevated Bill Casey to Cabinet level with considerable influence on policy.

Though this is based entirely on media speculation, the four names most often mentioned as candidates to fill these four positions are Rich Armitage, Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton, and Mike Armacost. That is a list with which Taiwan could be quite comfortable, whatever assignment they receive.

Rich Armitage's background is well known. He has continued to maintain contact with his many friends in Taiwan, not only through his consulting firm, but on a personal basis as well. He was an advisor to Bush during the primaries and through the campaign.

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