In January 2001 at the very beginning of his administration, President George W. Bush swore in retired general Colin L. Powell as the nation's secretary of state, the sixty-fifth in a long line of distinguished public figures to hold the premier cabinet office. Coming off a highly successful military career, including heading up the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the 1990-91 Gulf War, after retirement in 1993, Mr. Powell was widely rumored to be interested in a run at the White House. In December 1995, he put an end to that speculation, announcing he would not be a candidate; he then engaged actively in writing and public speaking.
Upon entering office, the new secretary of state faced, along with a multitude of diplomatic problems, the need to strengthen and, indeed, rebuild the Foreign Service of the United States. Clearly that was a task, largely different from his background in the army, posing a challenge to his skills and experience. The administrative structure of the Foreign Service needed revamping, available funding was insufficient, morale suffered, and the recruitment of new personnel was lagging.
It was a daunting challenge for someone even with the impressive background and abilities of the new secretary.
How well has he done? Read on. The Foreign Affairs Council's independent assessment follows. We at American Diplomacy feel privileged to make public the FAC's exhaustive study, a report which was delivered to Secretary Powell earlier this month, April 2003.