9 March 2001

Africa: Powell Selects Kansteiner for Africa Post

Washington — Secretary of State Colin Powell has tapped Walter H. Kansteiner III, who served on the former Bush foreign policy team, for the department's senior Africa post.

Kansteiner's selection as assistant secretary of State for African affairs has been submitted to the White House, which will make a final determination before submitting the nomination to Congress, according to sources close to the administration.

Kansteiner joined the State Department's policy planning staff as Africa director in mid-1989 and two years later moved to the National Security council, first as director for African affairs before being appointed in April 1992 as the NSC deputy press secretary. Following the defeat of President Bush in the 1992 election, Kansteiner became a partner in the Scowcroft Group, an international business advisory firm established by his former boss at the White House, General Brent Scow croft, who was Bush's national security adviser.

Before entering government, Kansteiner served as vice president of W.H. Kansteiner, Inc. in Chicago, an agricultural commodities trading firm. He also authored a book about South Africa. He is a graduate of Washington and Lee University, with M.A.s from American University in international economics and Virginia Theological Seminary in theological studies.

While working for the Scowcroft Group during the Clinton years, Kansteiner wrote periodic articles about African issues for the Forum for International Policy, a Washington think-tank where he served as a senior associate. He and his wife live in Lincoln, Virginia and have two children. She is a member of a prominent Republican family from Alabama, which includes Winton M. (Red) Blount, who served as Postmaster General in President Nixon's Cabinet. Blount and his brother Houston, who were founders of Blount International, a large construction and manufacturing firm headquartered in Montgomery, have been large contributors to party coffers, along with other family members.

According to the sources, the other leading candidate Powell considered for the job was Johnny Carson, a career foreign serve officer currently serving as U.S. ambassador in Kenya. Carson reportedly encountered opposition, in part because he served as deputy assistant secretary for Africa during the Clinton administration. His selection also encountered a Republican backlash for his prominent role for five years in the late 1970s as staff director of the House African subcommittee, led successively by Representatives Stephen Solarz (NY) and Howard Wolpe (MI), both Democrats and staunch opponents of the Reagan policy of 'constructive engagement' with apartheid South Africa.


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