Jim Marshall, a former Macon mayor and former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, got a new job title Monday: president and chief executive officer of the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C.
The bipartisan, federally chartered organization attempts to manage conflicts around the world. Marshall said he expects the work will be frustrating but rewarding, much like George Mitchell’s years of efforts to bring peace to Northern Ireland.
“You constantly work at this. And for all your labors, you have few successes. But when you have a success, it’s dramatic, because many lives are saved,” Marshall said.
Marshall is scheduled to take over the organization in September, but he already has been working internally with staff. Marshall said his experience in Congress will be helpful in his new job. Last year, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to cut all funding to the organization.
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Marshall, a Democrat, was ousted in the 2010 Congressional elections by Austin Scott, a Republican.
Marshall said he had been supported in his application to the United States Institute of Peace by Buck McKeon, a California Republican who is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.
Marshall said he had no direct diplomatic experience but is used to getting fighting parties to come to the table and get them to consider consequences and alternatives.
“As an attorney, you’re always trying to mediate disputes and reach a result that’s appropriate, instead of drawing out conflict,” he said.
Marshall will succeed Richard Solomon, who has led the organization since 1993. Solomon is a former assistant secretary of state who negotiated a peace treaty in Cambodia.
According to the organization’s website, it has recently worked in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan and the two Sudans.
“The United States Institute of Peace winds up working very closely with our military. There are three American agencies that were in Iraq through thick and thin,” Marshall said. “It was (the Department of Defense), the State Department, and the United States Institute of Peace. And the United States Institute of Peace was not in the Green Zone.”
Marshall said he plans to return to Georgia as often as he can, and plans eventually to retire to Macon.
In a statement, J. Robinson West, chairman of the board of directors for the institute, said the board liked Marshall’s background.
“As a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, Jim has experienced firsthand the dire consequences of violent conflict. As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, he carefully navigated a course through the choppy waters of partisanship to build a solid record of bipartisanship. He will be able to call upon his time as a professor at Mercer University and lecturer at Princeton as he leads the Institute’s Academy for International Conflict Management and Peacebuilding to an even higher profile among our government partners.”