Change We Can Believe In (Diplomatic Corps Edition)

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on February 5, 2011

Meet former Ambassador Cynthia Stroum, who was tapped by President Obama to represent American interests in Luxembourg:

Stroum, a businesswoman and philanthropist, had been a major bundler for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, raising more than half a million dollars for the then-candidate.

It appears that her fundraising abilities did not translate to diplomatic success, however: According to a scathing State Department probe out Thursday (PDF), Stroum was seen by most employees as “aggressive, bullying, hostile and intimidating.”

The probe found that Stroum’s “confrontational management style,” staffing problems and “the absence of a sense of direction” have brought much of the Luxembourg embassy “to a state of dysfunction.”

Things got so bad, the report says, that staffers asked for transfers to Afghanistan and Iraq due in part to “a climate of acute stress” at the embassy.

“Since the Ambassador’s confirmation, most of the senior staff, including two deputy chiefs of mission (DCM) and two section chiefs, has either curtailed or volunteered for service in Kabul and Baghdad,” the report says. “Other U.S. staff members have also departed early. At the time of the inspection, additional members of staff were contemplating curtailing. The OIG team believes and in some cases knows for certain that these early departures are because of the Ambassador’s management style.”

Let’s just make sure that the following gets emphasized: People working at the U.S. embassy in Luxembourg were asking for transfers to the embassies in Iraq and Afghanistan, because they were stressed out by Stroum, and needed to get away to a more relaxing environment.

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