Go to contents

`Fletcher Mafia` Dominating US Diplomatic Corps

Posted September. 30, 2009 07:08,   


The “Fletcher Mafia” is a well-known term among U.S. diplomats, referring to the alumni network created by graduates of the Fletcher School at Tufts University, the oldest U.S. school devoted to international relations.

Established in 1933, Fletcher is considered the best U.S. school to prepare for a diplomatic career. Graduates place high value on networking and are known for creating groups wherever they go in honor of their tradition.

The Fletcher Mafia is making its presence felt at the State Department. Alumni are especially adept at dealing with North Korea overall, including negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear program.

In the center is the dean of the Fletcher School Stephen Bosworth, who was named U.S. special representative for North Korea policy in February.

A former U.S. ambassador to Seoul, Bosworth seems frustrated in the wake of North Korea’s long-range missile tests and second nuclear test, but his presence is growing as bilateral talks between Washington and Pyongyang are likely to resume.

Since receiving an invitation to visit Pyongyang, he is likely to play a critical role in resuming such dialogue if the proper conditions are met.

Another Fletcher graduate is Derek Mitchell, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs. He served as special assistant for Asian and Pacific Affairs for the Defense Department from 1997 to 2001, and had a strong network with Asian security experts working for both the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the U.S. government.

He is also known as an influential figure in U.S. defense policy and regional cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.

Then, there is Robert King, who took over as special envoy on North Korean human rights issues Monday. With more than 20 years of congressional experience including serving as chief of staff to Congressman Tom Lantos and expertise on North Koreans human rights, King is expected to make significant progress in his task under a Democratic administration, which traditionally values human rights.

Fellow alumnus and governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson, who remains influential in diplomatic and national security affairs, has visited North Korea several times. He has also brokered deals on searching for the remains of American soldiers killed in the Korean War, and bragged about his relationship last month with Kim Myong Kil, North Korea’s permanent representative to the United Nations.

Fletcher graduates have traditionally occupied director-level positions that dealt with South Korea, Japan and North Korea at the National Security Council. Katrin Fraser, who served as director for Asian affairs at the National Security Council under the Bush administration, and her successor Sumi Kim Terry are also alumni of the school.

Interestingly enough, Chinese Ambassador to North Korea Liu Xiaoming is also an alumnus.