17 August 2009

The Foreign Policy Expertise of the New Ambassador to France

The New York Times discusses the newly appointed ambassador to France, Charles Rivkin, whose experience with all things diplomatic consists of being an executive producer of a Nick Jr. show about one-eyed blingwads and hanging out with muppets. Of course the President wouldn't appoint any old yahoo to such an important position, just yahoos who were able to raise a lot of campaign cash. From NY Times (by way of Yglesias):

As it stands, Mr. Obama could not now come close. Thirty-eight of his first 65 ambassadorial appointments were political. Even if every political envoy remaining were replaced by a career officer, the percentage would fall only to 26 percent. The lowest among recent presidents was 24 percent, under President Jimmy Carter.
For the Prez to appoint some rich guy from the civilian world to the position of General or Admiral would be criminally insane. Why is doing so with the Foreign Service a standard political practice?


Anonymous said...

An ambassador picked because of political connections. How shocking! This must never have happened before.

Grung_e_Gene said...

Surely, Anonymous, you are correct. The Hitler Obama has done that which hath never happened in the US before. Woe be unto the Nation!

Nixon said...

Because it's happened before, does that make it okay? The phrase "standard political practice" was an attempt to convey that this shit has happened before. What is your criticism?

NateSF said...

What function does an ambassador serve? They don't negotiate trade deals, set policy or have any authority outside their embassy. In most countries it's basically a cush job, so it doesn't matter who you appoint so long as they don't act the fool. Even if they did, how often do you hear about ambassadors getting replaced for doing a shitty job?

In places of political upheaval, economic interest and/or great strategic signifigance I'm sure there are career diplomats lining up to get their foreign service chops. Sorry to say, but France doesn't really make the cut. They have a history of supporting powers antagonistic to us(Iran's nuclear program), and they don't have much global military projection.

If Obama appointed some fat cat silicon valley venture capitalist that helped bankroll his campaign as the ambassador of Israel or China I would be truly shocked. This is the system and the current administration is just paying the tab the same as all the others previous to it.