Niki Cheong blogging

What is a Secretary of State

Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a lot of focus on the position of Secretary of State in US President-elect Barack Obama’s new Government. Yesterday, he confirmed that Democratic presidential nominee rival Hillary Clinton would take over that role.

Of course, there has been a lot of talk – some people are not happy about it, some people are and some people just don’t get it.

Whatever their reasons however, I found myself wondering what exactly is the role of Secretary of State.

In simple terms, the US Secretary of State deals with foreign affairs. So she (considering that both Hillary, and current Secretary of State Condozella Rice are both women) is basically the Foreign Minister.

The position, according to Wikipedia, has existed since the days of George Washington, back in 1789. The page also reads:

In accordance with the United States Constitution, the Secretary performs such duties as the President requires. These include negotiating with foreign representatives and instructing U.S. embassies or consulates abroad. The Secretary also serves as a principal adviser to the President in the determination of U.S. foreign policy and, in recent decades, has become responsible for overall direction, coordination, and supervision of interdepartmental activities of the US Government overseas, excepting certain military activities.

One of the most interesting things I discovered, though, was that the Secretary of State is the highest ranking cabinet position. This makes him/her the fourth in the line of succession to Presidency. There’s the President and in the case of incapacity, death, resignation, or removal from office, next in line is the Vice President, then the Speaker of the House of Representative, the President pro tempore of the Senate and then the Secretary of State.

Also, two of the last three (and soon to be three of the last four) Secretaries of States have been women. Madeliene Albright was the first (1997 – 2001) followed by Colin Powell (2001 – 2005). Here is a list of all the former Secretary of States.

And just to end this, I thought this is a good article – on why Hillary Clinton would want to be Secretary of State.

5.09pm Malaysian time (+8 GMT)

Discussion (5)

There are 5 responses to “What is a Secretary of State”.

  1. abi responded:

    · Reply

    Nice article man! I was a bit confused myself but now im clear! So in a nutshell, Hilary is like Botak here but thank god the Home Minister here is not in line to take over the premiership just in case something happens to the pm! :)

  2. Botak? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  3. Their job scope is to pour coffee and wipe the table and arrange for golf sessions

  4. anon responded:

    · Reply

    you spelled condoleezza wrong.

  5. Thanks for the note Anon :)

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