Posted by Curt on 7 February, 2014 at 11:07 am. 2 comments already!


Ed Morrissey:

Call this yet another extension of smart power. In recent confirmation hearings, we’ve found that Barack Obama appointments for ambassador posts have no knowledge of the government with which they’ll interactno clue as to the strategic interests in play for the US with the assignment (a description that applies to two appointments, as we’ll see), and finally have never bothered to actually visit the country to which he’d be posted. It’s as if Barack Obama desires to confirm the old saw that Americans have little curiosity about what extends beyond our two oceans.

In today’s Washington Post, former Clinton diplomatic adviser Henri Barkley, now a professor of international relations at Lehigh, blasts the White House for its riches of embarrassment in recent appointments. Barkley accuses the Obama administration of selling offices, and warns of the dangers in sending out incompetents in important diplomatic posts:

The Obama administration’s appointments suggest that the president isn’t being honest when he says that diplomacy is important to him. Yet the administration clearly values diplomacy — officials, including the president, have emphasized that the ongoing negotiations with Iran are the way to resolve the nuclear impasse. Would Obama consider making Tsunis our negotiator? Of course not. Yet it’s illogical, and insulting, to presume that Norwegians are such wonderful and civilized people — and hence unlikely to cause any problems with Washington — that we can afford to send someone on a taxpayer-funded three-year junket to enjoy the fjords.

Even the argument that Norway is an unproblematic post for a political appointee does not pass muster. Obama’s ambassador-designate to Hungary, Colleen Bradley Bell, is a television soap opera producer (“The Bold and the Beautiful”) and also was a money-handler for the president’s reelection campaign. What qualifications does she have to be ambassador to a country in crisis? Hungary’s democratic institutions are under severe threat from the governing party, and extremists have been targeting minorities. Hungary is a member of both NATO and the European Union. Unfortunately, when asked by Sen. John McCain, Bell was incapable of identifying the U.S. strategic interests in Hungary. …

Unfortunately, some current nominees are a modern version of the 18th-century French practice of the sale of offices. Then, the income derived went to finance state activities; now, it is for financing campaigns.

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