Recess Appointments: Ambassadors Bryza, Eisen, Ford and Ricciardone

On December 29, President Obama announced his intent to recess appoint six nominees to fill key administration posts that have been left vacant for an extended period of time.  Four of the six recess appointees are for ambassadorships in Baku, Prague, Damascus and Ankara! 

The President announced his intent to recess appoint the following four nominees for ambassadorships:

  • Matthew J. Bryza, Nominee for Ambassador to the Republic of Azerbaijan, Department of State (Senate hold by Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
  • Norman L. Eisen, Nominee for Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Department of State    
    (Senate “hold” by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IO)
  • Robert Stephen Ford, Nominee for Ambassador to the Syrian Arab Republic, Department of State.  His nomination was announced on February 16, 2010, cleared by the SFRC on April 13.  He had been waiting since. Who placed a hold on the Ford nomination? Who knows? It’s a secret hold.  One or more of these 13 GOP Senators?  One of these 8 GOP Senators?
  • Francis J. Ricciardone, Jr., Nominee for Ambassador to the Republic of Turkey, Department of State (Senate “hold: by Sen. Sam Brownback, R-KS)

Politico’s Laura Rozen who reported on this here points out that “recess appointments last for one year beyond the remainder of the Congress’s term. In addition, the White House could decide to resubmit the nominations during the 112th Congress.”

Related posts:

Related item:
President Obama Announces Recess Appointments to Key Administration Posts | December 29, 2010

Quickie: Reinvent, Don’t Replace, the Special Envoy

Andrew Exum in FP’s Argument column  pens 5 Ways to Win the War in Afghanistan (FP | December 15, 2010).  Item #3 caught our attention:

3. Reinvent, Don’t Replace, the Special Envoy

Trying to replace a diplomatic giant like the late Ambassador Richard Holbrooke is a fool’s errand. The president should not even try. But he will still need officials responsible for coordinating U.S. policy between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The comparatively low-key acting Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Frank Ruggiero, should keep Holbrooke’s team in place to do just that.

As far as the regional “super envoy” job that Holbrooke attempted to fill (with mixed success, it must be said), it might be best left to a respected United Nations diplomat — such as Lakhdar Brahimi, who had earlier successes enlisting the support of Afghanistan’s neighbors. State Department officials and CENTCOM commander James Mattis, along with envoys in Kabul and Islamabad, could then be used to properly allocate diplomatic and military resources between the two countries.

In Afghanistan, Ambassador Karl Eikenberry is likely headed home soon. The president and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should spend more time searching for his replacement than trying to replace Holbrooke. I’m sure Gen. Petraeus would appreciate an attempt to lure former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker out of semi-retirement and back to the region.

This is, of course, not the first time we’ve heard of Ambassador Eikenberry’s eventual departure.  In fact, in early December, somebody was making the case on teevee that the ambassador should go “because his relationship with Afghan President Hamid Karzai had been irreparably damaged by leaks.” 

Also, last week, David Rothkopf blogged about All Obama’s personnel issues resolved on one napkin and floated a name for Richard Holbrooke’s successor:

Want to replace Holbrooke with someone who will dive into the issues with abandon and courage? How about Bill Richardson? He’s a bit of an unmade bed, but he gets results and is great on the personal diplomacy front. 

I’m sure we’ll see more names floated around before long.

UK-Russia exchanged PNG’ed diplomats for the holidays

We’re late on this — but apparently, a British diplomat was ordered out of Russia in a tit-for-tat expulsion. Moscow calls the ejection from its London embassy of a Russian diplomat as groundless. The UK Foreign Office insists there is ‘clear evidence’ of spying.

Via the Guardian:

The mutual diplomatic expulsions between Russia and Britain are the first since 2007, when Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko was killed in London with a rare radioactive isotope.

“The British side took an unfriendly step the other day, having groundlessly declared one of our colleagues in our embassy in London persona non grata,” Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

Active links added above.  I bet you, neither side bothered to buy Christmas wrappers and ribbons or wrapped their PNG’ed gifts for the holidays.