|By Anonymous (210-5-233-243.reverse.newskies.net - 126.96.36.199) on Saturday, September 17, 2005 - 9:26 am: Edit Post|
With all the talk about ex-FEMA chief Michael Brown's appointment to a sensitive post merely because of his credentials as a Bush crony, Gaddi Vasquez' ears must be on fire. Vasquez, folks might recall, faced opposition upon appointment because he had absolutely no experience either in international affairs nor in development work--the two areas where a Peace Corps director must show an exceptional level of expertise. Vasquez was formerly a county commissioner of a failed and bankrupted California county, and he was the Vice President for Public Relations of the electric company that brought rolling blackouts to California. He was, though, a FROG--Friend of George.
The result had to be predictable. Peace Corps has been in a constant state of crisis since he took over. His inability to adapt to federal budget swings has left the agency understaffed and poorly managed in a number of critical areas. His response to new security concerns has been piecemeal and ad-hoc, and he has never been able to articulate a strategy for taking an agency created in a friendly world climate into the darker waters of the 21st century.
Bush had opportunities for heading up the agency with capable people. After all, even diehard Republicans can tackle the subtleties of responsible development practices and international relations. Instead, a visit from Gaddi Vasquez is every Country Director's worst nightmare, with protocols to ensure that a cocoon-like shroud surounds him and he never has to enter in real contact with the "locals."
Perhaps the Peace Corps, as an agency, is not in the sensitive position that FEMA is, but the results of poor leadership are the same--an inability to respond to new problems and paralysis in the face of rapid change. Peace Corps, if the agency is to survive, needs strong leadership and not mushy political hacks.