June 24, 2001
Those in career foreign service take different path
By DORI MEINERT
Copley News Service
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Edmund Hull, a career foreign service officer, made no
political contributions last year.
Yet Hull, 52, who grew up in Springfield, was selected by President Bush to
be an ambassador.
His assignment: Yemen.
While political appointees typically get glamorous embassy assignments in
places like London and Paris, career foreign service officers such as Hull are
usually sent to the world's most sensitive and troubled spots.
Yemeni authorities this past week arrested eight people believed to be part
of a terrorist plot to bomb the U.S. Embassy and its staff in
Sana, Yemen's capital.
The State Department recently authorized all non-essential staff and family
members to leave, closed the embassy to the public and warned Americans
not to travel to the Middle Eastern country. The threat came as the FBI
investigated the bombing of the USS Cole, which killed 17 sailors last October
in Yemen's Aden port.A career foreign service officer's experience and training can make a difference in difficult situations, several experts said.
Hull, whose Senate confirmation hearing should be held within the next
month, is well prepared for the new assignment.
He is now the State Department's principal deputy coordinator for
counterterrorism. As a member of an interagency Counterterrorism Security
Group, he has traveled to Pakistan, India, Russia and other countries to
coordinate the United States' anti-terrorism efforts.
"I'm not saying that's why he was chosen, but it is not bad experience to
have when going into one of these countries that has been subject to
problems of terrorist threats," said David Mack, vice president of The Middle
East Institute, a non-partisan Washington-based think tank.
Mack is a former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and deputy
assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs. Hull worked for Mack at
the State Department for a year.
"He is very capable, very experienced, dedicated and knows the Arab world
in depth," Mack said.
Hull speaks Arabic and French. He graduated from Princeton University's
Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
Hull was deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, from
1993 to 1996, earning the State Department's highest honor for management
of an overseas mission. He has also served in Israel and Tunisia.
What makes a good ambassador?
"Decisiveness and management ability, intellectual courage as well as area
knowledge. To be able to say unpleasant truths from time to time. Not
everybody is. Some people are willing to trim their remarks in order not to
make waves. I don't think that's true of Edmund," Mack said.