Where, oh where are the diplomats going to get a break?

Laura Rozen of The Cable yesterday had a piece on forthcoming ambassadorial announcements:

“The Obama administration hopes to make a batch of announcements of its picks for “first-tier” embassies all at once in the coming weeks, including London, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Moscow, Delhi, Beijing, Tokyo and Ottawa, The Cable hears.”

Okay, probably no surprises in the names we’re hearing or that they have political connections with the Obama Administration or Hillary campaigns. It might come as a shock to you that these top diplomatic missions will have political appointees at their helm instead of career diplomats. But don’t be too shocked, this is so totally in line with the practice from both Democratic and Republican administrations in the past.

Let’s see — for the US Embassy in London — the last three ambassadors were political appointees:

  • Robert H. Tuttle (2005-2009) – George W. Bush
  • William S. Farish (2001-2004) – George W. Bush
  • Philip Lader (1997-2001) – Bill Clinton

How about Paris? Are you kidding? The last three ambassadors to France were also political appointees: Craig Roberts Stapleton, Howard H. Leach, and Felix G. Rohatyn.

Brussels? We had Sam Fox, Tom C. Korologos, Jeffrey A. Marcus (nomination not acted upon by the Senate) and Stephen Brauer – all non-career, political appointees.

Berlin? We had William Robert Timken, Jr., and Daniel R. Coats, who were political appointees under the Bush II Administration. A. Elizabeth Jones, a career diplomat whose nomination of Feb 22, 2000 was not acted upon by the Senate, and John C. Kornblum, also a career diplomat who was ambassador from 1997-2001 under the Clinton Administration.

New Delhi? We had David Mulford, Robert D. Blackwill and Richard Frank Celeste – all political appointees.

Beijing? We had Clark T. Randt, Jr. (2001-2009) during both Bush II terms and Joseph W. Prueher (1999-2001) under the second Clinton term. Both non-career appointees.

Tokyo? We had John Thomas Schieffer, Howard Baker, Jr. and Thomas S. Foley, all political appointees.

How about next door, in Ottawa? That’s David Wilkins and Argeo Paul Cellucci during the Bush II second and first term respectively and Gordon G. Giffin during Clinton’s second term. All non-career political appointees.

Where, oh where are the career diplomats going to get a break? Maybe Moscow? It gets kind of cold there…

Among these “first-tier” embassies mentioned, only Moscow had career diplomats assigned to it in the last four ambassadorial appointments between 1996-2008: John Beyrle, William J. Burns, Alexander P. Vershbow and James Franklin Collins.

There’s a rumor that Ambassador Beyrle may be asked to stay. Hmmn…. one out of nine is not that bad, is it? Wait! Wait! That’s only a rumor, don’t break the champagne yet. If the career folks get to keep Moscow and maybe another post like Berlin, then it is permissible to celebrate. It’s been awhile since they got 2 out of 9. But if the Spaso House in Moscow goes to Stephen Colbert – I think hyperventilating would be an understandable reaction.

What? Oh, the “last-tier” embassies? Don’t worry, they all go to career diplomats.

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