Monday, September 26, 2011

If only the State Dept could figure out how to clone Ambassadors Crocker and Ford?

Michael Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly who previously worked as a staff adviser for Iran and Iraq in OSD/ISA/NESA at the Pentagon (where he was seconded to Iraq according to his bio), recently wrote a piece on Commentary Magazine praising two ambassadors while slamming two:

I certainly share Max Boot’s praise of Ryan Crocker​ and Robert Ford for the professionalism with which they distinguish themselves in a crisis. However, what really distinguishes how honorable is Crocker’s character—as opposed to so many of his Foreign Service colleagues—is how he distinguished himself outside the halls of the Foreign Service.
In recent days, for example, Mark Parris, ambassador to Turkey between 1997 and 2000 and long a cheerleader for the ruling AKP government, has just become the non-executive director of a Turkish-British company with tens of millions of dollars in Iraqi Kurdish oil interests, a position he could not attain had he not remained in the Turkish government’s good graces. Marc Grossman, pressed into service post-retirement to fill Richard Holbrooke’s shoes, had also profited from contacts with Turkey’s ruling party during his retirement when he began to work with Ilhas Holding. Likewise, when Libyan rebels overran the intelligence ministry in Tripoli, they found recent minutes of a meeting between former Assistant Secretary of State David Welch and Qadhafi regime officials. Welch retired from the State Department​ to win Libya contracts for Bechtel. Welch’s behavior might be legal, but it is shameful.
But, since Ford is such a high-value asset in a Department which has so few, why not send Ford to a post where the United States could truly use his skill, like Turkey or Lebanon, both of which have ambassadors now who are particularly weak and who have not shown themselves to be effective?

Active links added above. Read in full here.

The US Ambassador to Turkey is career diplomat, Frank Ricciardone. The US Ambassador to Lebanon is 25-year veteran, Maura Connelly. I'm sure neither one would appreciate being called "particularly weak" in the lead up to the promotion sweeps.

Max Boot who was cited in this piece also writes, "If only the State Department could figure out how to clone them–or at least inspire more of their colleagues to imitate their sterling example."

I don't think innovation at the State Department actually includes reproductive human cloning at this time. But when they figure out how, there will be a background briefing with senior administrative officials, I'm sure of it.

About Ambassador Ford, Josh Rogin of The Cable reported last week about the GOP’s new-found love for our Ambassador to Syria.
The State Department senses that the tide is turning on the Ford nomination as well, and is pushing Ford out to the media this week. He conducted on-the-record interviews with The Daily Caller¸ the Huffington Post¸ and with your humble Cable guy.

In a phone call with The Cable, Ford laid out the reasons he believes that he should be allowed to stay in Damascus.

"When an ambassador makes a statement in a country that's critical of that country's government, when that government visits an opposition or a site where a protest is taking place, the statement is much more powerful -- and the impact and the attention it gets is much more powerful if it's an ambassador rather than a low-level diplomat," Ford said.

Will Congress find new love too for stuck-on you Ambassadors Ricciardone (Turkey), Bryza (Azerbaijan) and Eisen (Czech Republic) whose nominations have all been filed in the back folder since forever. I think their recess appointments will expire in December.

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