Monday, December 27, 2010

Is David Miliband heading to WashDC as Her Majesty's Ambassador?

David Miliband, British Secretary of State for...Image via WikipediaUpdated 12/29: Not at all surprising.  David Miliband just poured  cold water over the ambo to US rumor via Twitter:

Seen the UK ambassador to US rumours. I am not in for it and wouldn't take it.

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Well, not right away like tomorrow... but is he? Here is the Guardian:

Downing Street is considering offering David Miliband the post of British ambassador in Washington, the Guardian has learned.

The former foreign secretary, still recovering from being beaten to the Labour leadership by his brother Ed, has the skills, contacts and abilities to make a success of the post, it is believed.

His name has also been mentioned by shadow cabinet members in connection with the post, which has been occupied by Sir Nigel Sheinwald since October 2007. Sheinwald, a lifetime diplomat, is due to retire shortly.

It has been pointed out inside the cabinet that Miliband has forged strong personal relations with the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and would be a voice trusted by the Obama administration.
The precedent of Peter Jay is seen as relevant to Miliband's appointment. Jay, a broadcaster and economist, was made ambassador to the United States between 1977 and 1979 by the then foreign secretary, David Owen, a move that caused controversy among diplomats angry that a plumb posting had been taken away from the professional diplomatic service.

Former cabinet colleagues who have spoken to David Miliband have found him wary of the idea, partly because he is not clear it is a job with real power, rather than a message carrier from the British government to the US.

Continue reading, David Miliband may be offered US ambassador post

Oh, that sounds awfully familiar, down to the career diplomats who might be upset with that choice.  American career diplomats on the other hand, no longer set their clear sights on the US Embassy in London.  The last five ambassadors we have over there (save one who was an Admiral) all have rich stripes.  The last career diplomat sent to London was Raymond G. H. Seitz who served there from 1991-1994. If another political appointee is sent there between now and say 2013, the American diplomatic service will not be shocked.     

On not having enough power to operate -- Hillary Clinton was reportedly wary of the SoS position when initially offered for similar reasons (Woodward's Obama's Wars, p.27). David Miliband was the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs from 2007-2010 under Gordon Brown's government.  Also he is a much younger politician (born 1965) than Hillary. Young, dashing, brainy guy -- I think he'll be great in WashDC but he might not think it's great in DC since he'll be away from domestic politics.  HMA's position in Washington, DC is one of the plum positions in the FCO, of course, but if he takes the job, that would be like Condi Rice taking on the chief of mission post at the US Embassy in London, after she got off the 7th floor.


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