Confirm Matt Bryza: 36 Conservative Foreign Policy Experts Write to Ranking Senators

U.S. Ambassador to Baku, Matt Bryza is the last of President Obama’s recess appointments from 2010 whose nomination is snagged in the Senate
(Ambassadors Ricciardone and Eisen were confirmed while Ambassador
Aponte’s nomination was derailed this past week). Ambassador Bryza’s
nomination was held up last year by twin-pops, Senator Barbara Boxer
(D-CA) and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ). The senators represent the concerns of their Armenian constituencies, which are
against the administration’s policy opposing a Congressional resolution
condemning the 1915 Armenian genocide.

WaPo awarded the duo, the Most Craven Election-Year Pandering at the Expense of National Interest Award.

Bryza is posted to Baku, Azerbaijan not Yerevan, Armenia.  But it’s
complicated since the two countries have fought in more than one war including the Nagorno-Karabakh War from 1988-1994.

Ambassador Bryza with wife, Zeyno Baran during
the 4th of July reception at
US Embassy Baku
Photo from US Embassy Baku/FB

Anyway, Senator Menendez even questioned Ambassador Bryza’s “very close ties to Turkey” because his wife is Turkish-born. That the good senator had dragged the ethnic origin of Ambassador Bryza’s wife into this confirmation fight was called shameful by the Washington Post.

In a rebuttal to WaPo, Senator Menendez writes:

“For the record, I stand by my position that Mr. Bryza is the wrong person for the job and have made public my hold in the U.S. Senate on his nomination. That position has absolutely nothing to do with the ethnic origin of his wife. It is based on information that I believe raises concerns about Mr. Bryza’s ability to remain impartial toward Azerbaijan and Turkey, including his opposition to the recognition of the Armenian genocide by Turkey and his close ties to individuals in both governments.”

Nuthintodowithit …. it’s just all politics. Surprisingly, not a lot of noise on the nomination of career diplomat, John Heffern as U.S. Ambassador to Armenia who was confirmed in September.  Ambassador Heffern also stopped short of using the “G” word during his confirmation hearing arguing
that “the characterization of those events is a policy decision that is
made by the president of the United States.” Same-o, same-o, except that he’s not married to a Turkish-American scholar.

In a letter dated December 15, 2011, 36 conservative foreign policy experts have now written to ranking senators to plead for the confirmation of Ambassador Bryza.  His recess appointment expires within a couple of weeks.

Excerpted from letter via The Cable:

Matt has conducted himself as an exemplary Ambassador to Azerbaijan, a country of growing importance to U.S. interests. He has the right combination of everything – contacts, trust, strategic vision, operational ability, leadership – everything.

Matt’s confirmation is being held up because a small minority of activists accuse him of being a “genocide-denier” – someone who denies that the Ottoman Empire committed genocide against Armenians in 1915.

United States policy under successive Administrations has been neither to affirm nor deny that a genocide occurred. Rather, it is to avoid having the United States place a label on the events that took place at the close of the Ottoman Empire, and in so doing, to help provide the best chance possible for the current states and people of Armenia and Turkey to explore their history together, and to build new relations and trade, in the interests of all people in the region.

To be sure, U.S. policy is to make clear that what happened to Armenians in the closing days of the Ottoman Empire was nothing short of mass murder and forced expulsion. Yet because U.S. policy is not to label these acts, Matt – as a career professional – has done what any professional American diplomat would do: adhere to the policy of successive U.S. Administrations and avoid labeling those acts on his own.

This in no way means Matt is insensitive to their occurrence, their nature, and their importance. And it in no way disqualifies him to serve with distinction as U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan. Indeed, such professional discipline in the face of extremely difficult and emotional issues only demonstrates his suitability to serve as Ambassador.

The signatories includes Elliott Abrams, former Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy; R. Nicholas Burns, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs; Robert Kagan, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution; Thomas R. Pickering, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and former Ambassador to Jordan, Nigeria, El Salvador, Israel, the UN, India and Russia; Randy Scheunemann,
former National Security Advisor to Senate Majority Leader and others. 

Read the full letter here.

Iraq Operation New Dawn End of Mission Ceremony

Below is the U.S. Forces – Iraq Operation New Dawn End of Mission Ceremony in Baghdad on December 15, 2011. Includes a brief speech by U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, James Jeffrey (at approx 7:30 mark) and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (at approx 9:08), as well as other military officials. Length: 40:27 min