The Financial Times reports that Robert Zoellick, Deputy Secretary of State, will probably soon leave for the private sector.
The immediate cause of his departure was his failure to get the post of Secretary of the Treasury.
Mr. Zoellick is an acute financial mind. If he was willing to take the job of Treasury Secretary—recognized as the premier impotent scapegoat and albatross position in the Bush cabinet, if I may mix a few metaphors—maybe there is still hope that our galumphing federal deficit, national debt, and trade imbalance are not going to push our nation’s economy (and the career of one ambitious banker-bureaucrat) off the cliff after all.
My uninformed speculation is that Mr. Zoellick is intent on an upward career trajectory. Having pushed for the Treasury job and not received it, remaining in a Deputy Secretary post is a de facto and spiritual demotion.
So he will move to the private sector, possibly, according to the FT, in a post with Merrill Lynch.
Then I assume he expects to return to the next Republican administration as Secretary of State or Secretary of the Treasury.
Mr. Zoellick is a skilled foreign policy realist who recognized the power—but did assume the invincibility—of American arms and understood that diversity of interests between the US and its allies had to be acknowledged and mediated.
Together with Secretary Rice, he has skillfully executed rapprochement with Europe post-Iraq. Recently he pushed through a Darfur settlement that sought to counter growing Chinese influence and prestige in Africa. In Asia, he has worked to reassure the region that callous recklessness is not an integral part of the Bush administration’s strategy against China.
Rightweb has an excellent profile of Mr. Zoellick.
It remains to be seen whether his successor will display similar skill and subtlety in promoting American interests overseas.