The White House has announced its nomination of Anthony Blinken, a close adviser to the President, for the position of Deputy Secretary of State. As the New York Times reports:
Mr. Blinken, 52, currently the deputy national security adviser, has been one of the architects of Mr. Obama’s strategy against the Islamic State militant group, and has led the process of reintegrating Iraq in the region after Nuri Kamal al-Maliki stepped down as prime minister. He has been an influential behind-the-scenes player in the negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, and has run what is considered one of the most contentious policy operations in Washington: the development of policy by the “deputies committee” of top national security aides.[…] Mr. Blinken’s appointment — to succeed William J. Burns, who retired last month — had been widely anticipated, but to make it, Mr. Obama had to pass over Wendy Sherman, his chief negotiator with Iran.
Given the choice between two non-career diplomats for the post, the choice of Blinken over Sherman makes sense. Regardless of politics and policy, the White House has been in something of a bubble, with both the State Department and the Pentagon held at arms length while overworked White House staffers struggle, not always successfully, with the challenges of a troubled world. Exporting an insider to State is one way of bridging the gap and getting more of the government’s resources directly engaged with the policy process.