The State Department, in a highly unusual move, has quietly yanked career Foreign Service officer Jon David Glassman from his job as ambassador to Paraguay only a few months before his three-year tour was to have been completed.
Glassman, a national security aide to former Vice President Dan Quayle, was summarily bounced by Assistant Secretary of State Alexander F. Watson and principal deputy Michael Skol around mid-February and was given until April 30 to leave Asuncion.
Administration officials insist that the move had nothing to do with Glassman's identification with Quayle or his authorship of a controversial "white paper" that the Ronald Reagan Administration used to "prove" that the Salvadoran rebels were Cuban and Soviet puppets.
Officials said that the problem was mostly one of style. The hard-charging Glassman had been U.S. charge d'affaires to Afghanistan and closed the U.S. Embassy there in 1989. He was sent to Paraguay by President George Bush. Word is that he was too undiplomatic in leaning on the Paraguayan government to crack down on drug smugglers and money launderers. He had simply stepped on too many toes too often.
Sources said the Paraguayan government had twice sent senior officials to Washington in recent months to complain and press for Glassman's removal.
"We simply lost confidence in his reporting" on the situation in Paraguay, an Administration source said, adding that Glassman's departure "has been a long time coming." Bush Administration officials also had been unhappy with his performance but took no action before the Clinton Administration came in, that source said.
While style may have had much to do with the decision, there appears to have been a substantive dispute as well between Glassman and the State Department.
Glassman reportedly pushed to have the newly elected Paraguayan government branded as noncooperative with U.S. antinarcotic efforts in the South American country. Other agencies working in Asuncion agreed with that assessment, a source said.
But officials here disagreed and kept Paraguay on State's "good guys" list of nations this year.
Glassman is awaiting his next assignment, which will be working in Washington at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at Ft. McNair, described by one source as "truly Siberia."