U.S. am­bas­sadors ur­gently needed

Van­ished US re­porter shows how cru­cial role can be

Albany Times Union - - NATION / WORLD - By Matthew Lee

The dis­ap­pear­ance of jour­nal­ist and U.S. res­i­dent Ja­mal Khashoggi af­ter vis­it­ing a Saudi con­sulate in Turkey has thrown the large num­ber of diplo­matic va­can­cies un­der Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump into the spot­light — no­tably in Turkey and Saudi Ara­bia. It’s a gap the ad­min­is­tra­tion says it has been try­ing to fix but with lim­ited suc­cess.

Khashoggi’s case and the fact that there are no Amer­i­can am­bas­sadors in Ankara or Riyadh have prompted con­cerns about dozens of un­filled se­nior State Depart­ment. And, those con­cerns have sparked an in­creas­ingly bit­ter bat­tle with Congress over who is to blame.

Aside from Saudi Ara­bia and Turkey, Trump has yet to nom­i­nate can­di­dates for am­bas­sado­rial posts in 20 na­tions, in­clud­ing Aus­tralia, Egypt, Ire­land, Mex­ico, Pak­istan, South Africa, Sin­ga­pore and Swe­den. At the same time, 46 am­bas­sado­rial nom­i­nees are still await­ing Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion, prompt­ing an­gry com­plaints from the ad­min­is­tra­tion and push­back from Democrats.

A num­ber of am­bas­sador po­si­tions to in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions also re­main un­filled as do 13 se­nior po­si­tions at the State Depart­ment head­quar­ters.

The dif­fer­ence be­tween hav­ing an am­bas­sador in coun­try or hav­ing a charge d’af­faires run­ning an em­bassy is a mat­ter of de­gree but can be sub­stan­tial, ac­cord­ing to Ron­ald Neu­mann, Amer­i­can Academy of Diplo­macy pres­i­dent. Non-am­bas­sadors can have trou­ble get­ting ac­cess to se­nior of­fi­cials and may not be viewed as the le­git­i­mate voice of the pres­i­dent or his ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“... An am­bas­sador is the per­sonal rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the pres­i­dent. A charge is the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the State Depart­ment,” he said.

“There are real, di­rect im­pacts of not hav­ing these peo­ple con­firmed,” Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo said this month, mak­ing the case for the Se­nate to act quickly. Those re­marks set off a war of words with Sen. Robert Me­nen­dez, D-N.J., rank­ing mem­ber of the Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee.

“I want ev­ery sin­gle Amer­i­can to know that what Sen. Me­nen­dez and mem­bers of the Se­nate are do­ing to hold back Amer­i­can diplo­macy rests squarely on their shoul­ders,” Pom­peo said.

Me­nen­dez fired back, ac­cus­ing Pom­peo of politi­ciz­ing the process and blam­ing con­fir­ma­tion de­lays on the un­suit­abil­ity of can­di­dates for cer­tain posts and the Repub­li­can lead­er­ship for not call­ing votes on the oth­ers. He also slammed the ad­min­is­tra­tion for fail­ing to nom­i­nate can­di­dates for crit­i­cal posts.

“We can­not con­firm nom­i­nees who have not been nom­i­nated,” he noted, adding that some nom­i­nees had been or are be­ing blocked by Repub­li­cans.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.