by AndrewMc | 6/08/2009 08:27:00 PM

For some months now we have followed the progress of the allegations and investigations into the troubles at the Office of the Historian at the Department of State.

PH has published articles here, and here.

There now seems to be some kind of resolution of the issue.

The Washington Post [free subscription required] reports that
The head of the State Department's Office of the Historian has been reassigned after an inspector general's investigation found "serious mismanagement for which the director must be held accountable."

The office has been the subject of several years of internal and external conflict. A report by Harold W. Geisel, acting State Department inspector general, said the turmoil could be resolved only with the transfer of the historian, Marc J. Susser.

The paper goes on to say that

Although it has not been publicly announced, John Campbell, a former ambassador to Nigeria, has been designated acting director of the office, according to an internal State Department memorandum.

While the entire incident is regrettable, and a bit of a blemish [IMHO] on the fine work that that office does, I'm very glad to see that the State Department seems to have worked things out, and is moving forward.

The FRUS series is an invaluable tool for historians, and any delays in its publication hold up the ability of researchers and the general public to have a close look at U.S. foreign policy decisions.

So, I'm glad that we seem to be moving past this.

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Blogger Unknown on 6/09/2009 12:25 AM:

Wait -- they're replacing Susser with a Bush appointee who has no historical experience whatsoever? Sounds like yet another terrible appointment from a President who is fast evolving into a miserable failure.


Blogger AndrewMc on 6/09/2009 7:30 AM:

Jeremy if you aren't being snarky, I think you are being a bit hasty. He may be a Bush-appointee Ambassador, but he's hardly political in that sense. He's a career foreign service person, who served in a number of positions form the mid 1970s onward.

"fast evolving into a miserable failure?" Five months in office is not enough to judge a presidency.


Blogger Unknown on 6/09/2009 5:58 PM:

Marc Susser, whatever you may say about him, was a trained historian. No one who is not a trained historian should occupy the State Department Office of the Historian. We don't need someone in there who's sensitive to diplomatic issues, we need someone who's experienced in the practice of history. I'm very worried that a foreign service officer will politicize the very important work of the Office, including FRUS.

As for Obama, I think I'm going to have to write a separate post about that.


Blogger AndrewMc on 6/10/2009 5:30 AM:

While I agree that a trained historians is preferable, it sounds to me as if a trained diplomat is exactly what that office needs right now.


Anonymous Anger_Management on 6/10/2009 3:57 PM:

Actually, Campbell has a Ph.D. in history from the University of Wisconsin and taught British and French history at Mary Baldwin College from 1970 to 1975 before he joined the foreign service. As I understand it, he is a special assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Public Affairs; he will oversee the office until a new Historian is put in place.

Frankly, they need someone with management and bureaucratic experience to restore morale and order and make an effective transition. In other words, give the guy a chance.


Blogger Unknown on 6/12/2009 6:10 PM:

Anger_Management, I didn't realize he had a history degree. Okay then, I'll yield on this one.


Anonymous Ralph Brauer on 6/14/2009 12:32 PM:

This one is interesting given what I just learned at the National Archives: there is not a single trained reference librarian/assistant assigned solely to State Department records so as one librarian put it to me, you are on your own when delving into those records.


Blogger Unknown on 6/14/2009 11:29 PM:

That's true. Those records are a mess.