Thursday, September 23, 2010

SFRC Clears Arvizu, Eisen, Mussomeli, Woerth and Bryza, then somebody Prompty placed a hold on one of them. Guess who?

Matthew Bryza, Deputy Assistant Secretary of S...Image via WikipediaThe Senate Foreign Relations Committee cleared the following executive nominations on September 21. The nominations will now go to the full Senate vote. 

1.  Alexander A. Arvizu to be Ambassador to the Republic of Albania

2.  Matthew J. Bryza to be Ambassador to the Republic of Azerbaijan

3.  Norman L. Eisen to be Ambassador to the Czech Republic

4.  Joseph A. Mussomeli to be Ambassador to the Republic of Slovenia

5.  Duane E. Woerth for rank of Ambassador while U.S. Representative on the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization

As Politico's Laura Rozen reported, the President's nominee to be U.S. envoy to Baku, Matthew Bryza was voted out of the SFRC despite the two votes against it by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).

The Armenian American lobby group, the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), which opposes Bryza's nomination, urged senators to put a hold on the nomination.

Read the whole thing here.

Bryza's appointment was reportedly praised by Azerbaijani groups, which made it almost a certainty that the other group would have at least one cause or more to be angry with it. He is, after all, going to a region with a long history of enmity. Most recently, a war fought from 1988-1994 between ethnic Armenian and ethnic Azerbaijanis which resulted in the creation of the OSCE Minsk Group "to encourage a peaceful, negotiated resolution to the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh."

I understand that the Minsk Group is still hard at work.

Recently, the publisher of The California Courier, a weekly newspaper based in Glendale, California and president of the United Armenian Fund, a coalition of the seven largest Armenian-American organizations has also urged Boxer and her colleagues to "either reject Bryza’s nomination outright or place a hold on it until all allegations against him are investigated and proven to be true or false."

The "allegations" reportedly have to do with Mr. Bryza's wedding in Istanbul to his Turkish-born wife, Zeyno Baran which apparently had about 400 prominent guests. In 2007.

In this article, the publisher writes that "U.S. investigators should contact everyone who attended Bryza’s wedding to verify what gifts they gave to the couple on that occasion. He should also be asked to produce a record of his wedding expenses and how they were paid."

Which if done, would be quite a precedent.

Not only would you need to report a continuing relationship to Diplomatic Security when you are dating a foreign-born national, in a future perfect world, you may also be asked to submit your wedding guest list and gifts received to ensure that you did not receive any inappropriate gifts ... a 214b kindof thing .... you, presumed guilty you, must prove you are innocent.

If you've been married more than once, well, then that's a hell of mess. Was that copper bowl a gift for your first wedding or the current one? Was it a gift from the Prime Minister or the Foreign Minister? Was it over $50? Did you ask the gifter for a receipt? Was it reported or not?
Oh, Public Service, how much more complicated can you get?  When diplo marries pundit next time, we think they should just elope, ditch the ceremony, and one of us better not be born in a foreign country!

Anyhow, I probably need not point out that Mr. Bryza's wife is not an employee of the US Government. The USG did not hire a twofer (two for the price of one)!  Should she quit her job just because he's going to be ambassador some place? You know, if he gets confirmed, her supporting role as wife of the US ambassador will not even earn Social Security credits for retirement. Seriously.

Makes one wonder if he would have received this much flack if his wife was a native of  say, Namibia?

Speaking of foreign-born spouses --- the last time I look, approximately a third of FS folks are married to foreign-born spouses. Are we going to start a spouse test for all ambassadorial appointments from now on -- diplomats married to Greek-born spouses may not be assigned to Cyprus or Turkey because [fill in the blanks]? Diplomats married to Taiwanese born spouses may not be assigned to any posts in China? Diplomats married to Philippine nationals may not be assigned to posts in Spain because they must still be smarting from 400 years of imperial rule? We can go down the list of countries worldwide ....
See -- how tricky that can get?    

Of course, no one has yet started an investigation but a Senate hold and jam on the Bryza nomination was promptly "extended," courtesy of the good Senator from California. So prompt that the ink has not yet dried in the Senate's Executive Calendar. 

Ah, politics, don't you love the darn thing like your own vacuum cleaner that sucks up everything on its way.  All we need now is for Carly Fiorina to wade into this and make Bryza a full blown political nonissue.
Mr. Bryza is a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor. He has worked for both Republican and Democratic administrations.  As a professional diplomat, he is expected to represent the interest of the United States in Baku. End of story.

Oops, sorry  -- not quite.  This is an election year, remember?  

Unfortunately, we might have to add Bryza to Raul Yzaguirre (who displeased somebody about DR), Robert Ford (who was caught in Syrian politics the WashDC edition), and Frank Ricciardone (accused of being too cozy with this and that country and light-handed on human rights issues in where? Zimbawe. Really?).

All are waiting for the members of our "more deliberative body" to have their minds made up. Perhaps we should just move to the American Idol Senate Edition model, so all of us can call in and help vote?

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