The Secretary of State is a vital position in American government, next only to the President, and the Vice-President. Till now, the United States of America has seen 67 individuals to assume the responsibility of Secretary of State, which includes three women.
Becoming the Secretary of State takes years of political service and one should be known for his/her accomplishments for the country or the state. The Secretary of State is nominated by the President, and is confirmed by the Senate. Although, it is a vital position in the establishment, many people are not fully aware about the job description of the Secretary of State.
Responsibilities of the Secretary of State
The Secretary of State is mainly concerned with looking after the international affairs and foreign policy. The Secretary of the State advises the President on important international affairs and plays an important part in improving relations with different countries of the world. This is of vital importance as the United States has a major role to play in the world politics and economics.
Besides advising the President on foreign affairs, the Secretary of State is also the head of the U.S. Department of State. This department includes various bureaucrats and executives who continuously analyze the global political scenario, and form the American foreign policy accordingly.
The job of a Secretary of State demands him/her to travel to foreign countries frequently to meet with the diplomats and discuss bilateral trade, military cooperation and world affairs. As the representative of America, the Secretary of State has to consider the interests of America through cooperation and tie-ups with the various countries of the world.
The Secretary of the State is also responsible for delegating diplomats to the U.S. embassies around the world and have consultations with the foreign dignitaries, who wish to set-up their embassies in America. The Secretary of State is fourth in the line of succession, that is, if the President leaves office, due to impeaching, resignation or death, the Secretary of State will be the fourth one in line who may have to assume the responsibility of becoming the President, preceded by the Vice-President and the Speaker of the House.
The Secretary of State has some domestic duties as well, and these typically include assisting American citizens who travel abroad for studies, travel or work purposes. The U.S. Department of State also issues advisories to its citizens about the risks involved in traveling to certain countries. The U.S. Department of State is also responsible for many international exchange and student programs. The Bureau of Consular Affairs, which is an internal State organization, is responsible for processing and issuing passports to American citizens who wish to travel abroad.
Apart from the U.S. Secretary of State, the State Secretaries are responsible for looking into the interests of their respective states. Some of the important duties of a Secretary at a state level are ensuring that the elections are conducted fairly and smoothly, regulating business and chairing the commissions which look after the state Census etc.
These were some of the duties and responsibilities of the Secretary of State. As we mentioned before, this is an important position and often comes under immense public scrutiny. The role of the Secretary of State has assumed immense importance, more so after 9/11. Ensuring that states do not sponsor or promote terrorism is an important challenge and the Secretary of State, has to work in coordination with leaders around the world to achieve this objective.