The Foreign Service Journal, October 2022

14 OCTOBER 2022 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL TALKING POINTS New Fellowships at State I n support of efforts to build a work- force representative of all segments of society, the State Department has created two new fellowship programs to feed into its Civil Service and Diplomatic Security Service, respectively. On Aug. 17, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the launch of the Colin Powell Leadership Program, which will provide paid fellowships to recent college graduates and paid internships to students who are enrolled at accredited higher learning insti- tutions. Both paths may lead to full-time Civil Service employ- ment at the depart- ment. The Powell program is aimed at “developing future leaders through train- ing, mentoring, and on-the-job experience to prepare them for the world of diplomacy,” the Secretary said. The second new program offers scholarships, professional training, and mentoring to graduate students from underrepresented communities. On completing the program, they will enter the Foreign Service as Diplomatic Security special agents. This fellowship will be named after William D. Clark Sr., the first member of Diplomatic Security to achieve the rank of ambassador, which he did in 1998. Secretary Blinken announced the new programs at an event at the State Depart- ment celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship, the 20th anniversary of the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Program, the 10th anniversary of the Donald M. Payne International Develop- ment Fellowship, and the 5th anniversary of the Foreign Affairs IT (FAIT) Fellow- ship Program. Also speaking at the event were Director General Marcia Bernicat, Ambassador (ret.) Tom Pickering, and USAID Administrator Samantha Power. In his remarks, the Secretary empha- sized the value of fellowship programs as a vehicle for strengthening U.S. foreign policy through a diverse and innovative workforce. “One in nine active Foreign Service officers participated in Rangel or Pickering. Thanks to them, the number of generalists from underrepresented backgrounds has increased by 33 per- cent,” he said. U.S.-Russia Prisoner Swap? I n a July 29 phone call, Secretary of State Antony Blinken pressed Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to accept a proposal Washington has put forward to secure the release of two Americans the State Department considers “wrong- fully detained” in Russia. The call marked the first conversation between the two diplomats since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. On the table is a proposed swap in which American basketball star Brittney Griner, detained since February 2022, and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, detained since December 2018, would be released in exchange for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer imprisoned in the U.S. since 2008. He is currently serving a 25-year sentence for conspiring to kill Americans and providing aid to terrorists. On Aug. 4, a Russian court sentenced Griner to nine years in prison in one of the country’s penal colonies. These remote facilities are notorious for their poor treatment of prisoners and hard labor requirements. It remains unclear how prisoner swap negotiations will be affected by U.S. pledges to provide Ukraine with long- term security aid. In an unannounced visit to Kyiv on Sept. 8, Secretary Blinken promised almost $3 billionmore in aid and weapons, bringing the total security assistance to Ukraine to $13.5 billion since Russia’s invasion began, NPR reported. Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Ambassador Roger Carstens told NPR in July: “Throughout history you’ll find [instances] where hostages can be detached from the broader issues of policy. … But I would say that it’s a little harder when the countries are actually picking up a human being and using them as a bargaining chip.” Sub-Saharan Africa Strategy Announced D uring a visit to Pretoria, South Africa, in early August, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the Biden administration’s new five-year strategy toward sub-Saharan Africa. The plan, Blinken said, “is rooted in the recognition that sub-Saharan Africa is a major geopolitical force, one that shaped our past, is shaping our present, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announces two new fellow- ships at an Aug. 17 event celebrating the anniversary of four State Department fellowship programs. U.S.DEPARTMENTOFSTATE