Round-up: American Ambassadors Presenting Their Credentials (Photos)

— By Domani Spero

The newly confirmed American ambassadors presented their credentials to each of their receiving states in the last couple of months. Below are just a few of the photographs that are available online.

U.S. Embassy Japan
Cred_kennedy2013

TOKYO, Japan (November 19, 2013) U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy arrived at the the Imperial Palace, where she presented her credentials to His Imperial Majesty Emperor Akihito.
[State Department photo by William Ng/Public Domain]
(click on photo to view Flickr slideshow)

U.S. Embassy United Kingdom
@MatthewBarzun Diplomacy is a balancing act, like wearing a top hat. Preparing for my #CredentialsCeremony

@MatthewBarzun
Diplomacy is a balancing act, like wearing a top hat. Preparing for my #CredentialsCeremony

U.S. Embassy Brazil
A embaixadora dos EUA no Brasil, Liliana Ayalde, apresentou hoje suas credenciais à presidente do Brasil Dilma Rousseff. via US Embassy/FB

October 2013: A embaixadora dos EUA no Brasil, Liliana Ayalde, apresentou hoje suas credenciais à presidente do Brasil Dilma Rousseff.
via US Embassy/FB

U.S. Embassy Germany
CRED_Emerson Germany 2013

S. E. den Botschafter der Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika, Herrn John B. Emerson | 26. August 2013, Schloss Bellevue – © Bundespresseamt via US Embassy Berlin/Flickr (click on photo to view slideshow)

U.S. Embassy Italy
CRED_Italy Philips

October 2, 2013. L’Ambasciatore John R. Phillips ha presentato ieri le Lettere Credenziali al Presidente Giorgio Napolitano.
Con l’accettazione formale delle Credenziali, si conclude il processo di insediamento del nuovo Ambasciatore, iniziato con la nomina da parte del Presidente Obama lo scorso luglio. (via US Embassy Rome/FB)

U.S. Embassy Denmark
Ambassador Rufus Gifford received his credentials from H.M. Queen Margrethe II today at a ceremony at Amalienborg.

Ambassador Rufus Gifford received his credentials from H.M. Queen Margrethe II  (not in the photo) at a ceremony at Amalienborg. U.S. Embassy/FB Photo

U.S. Embassy South Africa
CRED_Ambassador-Gaspard-and-his-spouse

On October 16, 2013 Patrick H. Gaspard presented his credentials to President Jacob Zuma in Pretoria as the new U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of South Africa. Photo of Ambassador Gaspard and his spouse Ms. Raina Washington at the credentialing ceremony. (US Embassy Photo)

U.S. Embassy to the Holy See
Via US Embassy/The Vatican

Via US Embassy/The Vatican

Ambassador Ken Hackett presented his credentials to Pope Francis at the Vatican in October 2013. More photos via US Embassy Vatican/FB.

Ambassador Ken Hackett presented his credentials to Pope Francis at the Vatican in October 2013. More photos via US Embassy Vatican/FB.

U.S. Embassy Spain
El Embajador James Costos presentó ayer sus cartas credenciales ante el Rey Don Juan Carlos. Este es el paso definitivo en su acreditación como Embajador de EEUU en España.

El Embajador James Costos presentó ayer sus cartas credenciales ante el Rey Don Juan Carlos. Este es el paso definitivo en su acreditación como Embajador de EEUU en España. US Embassy Madrid/FB

U.S. Embassy Australia
Ambassador Berry formally presented his credentials to the Governor-General, Her Excellency the Honourable Quentin Bryce AC CVO, who received them on behalf of the Queen.

Ambassador John Berry formally presented his credentials to the Governor-General, Her Excellency the Honourable Quentin Bryce AC CVO, who received them on behalf of the Queen – September 2013 Photo via US Embassy Canberra/FB

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Round-Up: Swearing-In the New American Ambassadors

— Domani Spero

US Mission to the United Nations
@VP Biden swears in Samantha Power as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. on August 5, 2013

@VP Biden swears in Samantha Power as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. on August 5, 2013

US Mission NATO
The new #US Ambassador to #NATO, Douglas Lute was sworn in by #SecKerry on Aug 15.

The new #US Ambassador to #NATO, Douglas Lute was sworn in by #SecKerry on Aug 15.

US Embassy United Kingdom
Barzun_swearing_in_at_State_15aug2013-pic2_300x234

15 August 2013 – Ambassador Matthew Winthrop Barzun is sworn in by Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department in Washington (State Dept. photo)

U.S. Embassy Republic of Congo
US Embbrazaville

Ambassador to the Republic of Congo Stephanie S. Sullivan was sworn-in in August at the State Department by Deputy Secretary Burns.

U.S. Embassy Ukraine
Deputy Secretary Bill Burns swears to office new U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine Geoffrey R. Pyatt at the State Department on July 30, 2013 (State Department photo)

Deputy Secretary Bill Burns swears in new U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine Geoffrey R. Pyatt at the State Department on July 30, 2013 (State Department photo)

U.S. Embassy Cote d’Ivoire
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hosts a swearing-in ceremony for Terry McCulley as U.S. Ambassador to Cote d’Ivoire at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on October 18, 2013. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hosts a swearing-in ceremony for Terry McCulley as U.S. Ambassador to Cote d’Ivoire at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on October 18, 2013. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

 

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Video of the Week: Ambassador Matthew Barzun, Some Cousins, and Glorious Facial Hair

— By Domani Spero

The folks who brought us  Scamnet: Lonely Hearts Scam Division and It’s a Scam are back with a short video of the new Ambassador to the UK Matthew Barzun taking us on a tour of his office. He introduced some of his cousins, folks with intimidating facial hair and  plugs in his new Twitter handle @MathewBarzun. For those interested in facial hair as  a weapon of intimidation, check out a round-up of cinematic facial hair here; you won’t be sorry!

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Congress Shuttered Our Zoo, So Here’s the Animal Kingdom Foreign Service Round-Up

— by Domani Spero

You’ve seen this photo of the “sad kid at the zoo,” right? The Atlantic Wire calls it the defining image of the government shutdown.  Okay. Australia’s Herald Sun screams, No zoo for you, kid. The US government shutdown hates children. Who writes things like that?  Also Matt Berman of the National Journal went looking for animals, or tried to (We Try to Find Animals at the Shut-Down National Zoo). He came away with the apparent message from the National Zoo which is this: “During a shutdown, we’ll feed the animals. But not the reporters.” He did not see any animals at the zoo except for a couple of male mammals guarding the gate and he found some fish and turtles at the nearby Petco.

Via Reddit/superbonnie

Via Reddit/superbonnie

As for us, we’re stuck as sad blogger online. The State Department is open for business but its social media arms have reportedly been directed to go limp until the shutdown is over. The embassies Twitter feeds are repeating variations of the same message “Due to the government shutdown, this Twitter feed will not be updated regularly.”  Frankly, some social media ninjas are having a hard time going dark – like @USEmbassyKabul, and @usembassyjkt because Secretary Kerry was in town and @usembassymanila, because of security threats and also Secretary Kerry was not in town.

Meanwhile, U.S. embassy officials are also restricted from giving speeches or conducting public outreach even if the agency is still funded.  Ambassadors are restricted from having welcome or farewell receptions, as well.  The welcome party for U.S.Ambassador Matthew Barzun to London is reportedly sponsored by  Tatler, a Conde Nast publication but was cancelled.  Even if no USG funds are expended, some tasks,chores or fun stuff  (including necessary work ones) are not getting done because they would look bad in the grim light of this government shutdown. But wait, on October 2 AmCham Belgium together with the American Club of Brussels did host a Gala Dinner to welcome the new US Ambassador to Belgium, Denise Bauer. What a difference a few days make!

Anyhow, since our national zoo is closed, we thought a collection of animals overseas might be a worthwhile blogpost during this extremely aggravating season. Note that these official engagements have all happened in the past.  Our ambassadors and diplomatic personnel shown below are not/not feeding any animals not doing engagements during the shutdown; apparently only excepted/limited/restricted/whatever activities.  So no rapid response.  You won’t like us for pointing this out — but … but…the Talibs are ‘um mocking us. Just think about it, okay?  Meanwhile, enjoy the cuties below.

U.S. Embassy Kenya

Ambassador Robert Godec  marked this year’s World Environment Day by adopting a one year old orphaned elephant named Tundani at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Nairobi National Park. June 2013 | Via US Embassy Kenya/FB

Amb Godek_elephant2

U.S. Embassy Australia

Ambassador Jeffrey Bleich in a face-to-face croc encounter from the “Cage of Death” at Crocosaurus Cove, Darwin, Australia (photo via Amb Bleich/FB) | The encounter with the croc kind occurred in Darwin, in the Northern Territory of Australia during  a trip to welcome the arrival of  Lima Company 3rd Regiment, 3rd Marine battalion from Hawaii for training in country.

If  this shutdown last another week without a resolution, we should petition Congress to go on a CODEL to Darwin!

Amb B_NT

U.S. Embassy Canada

Ambassador David Jacobson carefully examines Batisse, the official mascot of the Royal 22e Regiment in Quebec. As part of a national farewell tour, the Ambassador of the United States took this opportunity to thank and address the troops of the 5th Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group for their contribution in Afghanistan. | Photo by: Cpl Nicolas Tremblay, Valcartier Imaging Section. Via US Embassy/Flickr

US ambo to ottawa_with goat

U.S. Embassy Laos

Ambassador Karen Stewart with an elephant. We think this was taken at the conservation center in Laos but our reference, the  ambassador’s blog has been updated with a new blog by her successor, Ambassador Clune and the archive had been wiped mighty clean.

ANIMALS_Amb Stewart during elephant festival

U.S. Embassy France

Ambassadeur Charles Rivkin avec “Celebre” au Salon de l’Agriculture 2012.

ANIM_ Ambo Rivkin

U.S. Embassy United Arab Emirates

U.S. Ambassador Richard Olson during a visit to the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital (ADFH), the largest such facility in the world. (Photo from US Embassy Abu Dhabi) This was taken prior to his appointment as ambassador to Pakistan, can you tell?

ANIm_Ambo olson with falcon

U.S. Consulate General Toronto, Canada

Consul General Jim Dickmeyer greets Honest Ed (back) and Tecumseh along with their riders, Sgt. Jim Patterson and Staff Insp. Bill Wardle, respectively. The horses and the police officers – all members of the Toronto Police Service’s Mounted Unit took part in President Obama’s inauguration in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21st.

POD_inauguration horses

U.S. Embassy New Zealand

Ambassador David Huebner during an official visit to Palmerston North and Massey University’s Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences. A special highlightfor the Ambassador was his introduction to “Chelsea” a mature New Zealand Kiwi who was recovering in the Institute’s specialist care centre. August 2010 | Via US Embassy/Flickr

NZ_kiwi

The Emperor penguin colony representatives in Antarctica during their first diplomatic encounter with Ambassador David Huebner.| Photo by USAF/MarkDoll | December 1,2011 via US Embassy New Zealand

NZ_mike_ambo

U.S. Embassy Norway

Ambassador White visits Hedmark – Breeding Bulls and Battle Tanks (May 20, 2011)
Ambassador Barry White met with representatives from local breeding cooperatives Norsvin and Geno over a traditional Norwegian breakfast at Staur Gjestegård.  The companies conduct cutting edge research in sustainable breeding and artificial insemination and export pig and bull semen to over 20 countries, including the U.S. It’s estimated that over one million pigs and 100,000 cows in the U.S. now carry Norwegian genetic material. Below, Ambassador White stopped for a photo-op with Bosnes, a “quietly confident” 1000kg breeding bull.

Ambassador White visits Hedmark – Breeding Bulls and Battle Tanks (May 20, 2011

U.S. Embassy Thailand

Ambassador Kristie Kenney riding an elephant during Thai Elephant Week in early 2013

Photo via KK/Instagram

Screen Shot 2013-10-12 at 8.46.10 PM

That’s kind of blurry, so we’ll give you another snapshot of Ambassador Kenney with a real cutie:

Ambassador Kenney with baby elephant

U.S. Embassy Egypt

Photo of U.S. Marine Security Guards and their camels at the pyramids, from MSG Detachment Cairo
via Diplomatic Security

Thanks to A Female Marine (second from left). This photo was taken in 2008 at the Great Pyramid of Giza on the morning of the Marine Ball .  “So the Marine in charge of MWR funds rented a herd of camels for us to sit on while the photographer snapped our pictures. Luckily the herd arrived with a handler for each camel otherwise we never would have been able to get lined up for the photo. The camels were not happy about this at all, they did not appreciate being forced to stand so close to each other and they were constantly squabbling like siblings in the backseat of a car.” Read more about it plus photos here.

Marines_security group in egypt

Perhaps, the most disappointment thing in this collection is the lack of pandas!  We could not locate a snapshot of Ambassador Huntsman or Ambassador Locke with the pandas.  What’s with that?  But we are sorta persistent, and finally we found an ambassador and a panda from 2004, Ambassador Huntsman’s predeceesor, Clark T. Randt, Jr.:

Screen Shot 2013-10-13 at 3.31.17 PM

The end.

*(^O^)*

State/IIP Introduces New American Ambassadors on YouTube – Pick Your Favorite Now!

— By Domani Spero

The  State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP) has rolled out several videos for its Ambassador Introduction Video Series on You Tube.  The videos are mostly in English (with one exception) or with some local language subtitles. The most viewed from this latest releases is the video of US Ambassador to Belgium Denise Bauer.  The only one in a foreign language (with an English version also available) is delivered unexpectedly not by a career diplomat but by non-career appointee Alexa Wesner, the new ambassador to Austria.  The most viewed in this series at 377,521 views is still the video introduction of the late Ambassador Chris Stevens originally published in May 2012 by america.gov and US Embassy Tripoli. A good number of these videos get less than a thousand views.

See Here Comes the Sun: U.S. Senate Confirms A Slew of New Ambassadors as It Runs Out the Door for the recent confirmations. We expect to see mored videos like these as the confirmed ambassadors start getting to posts.

AUSTRIA

U.S. Ambassador to Austria Alexa Wesner  

Deutsch Version – 6,254 views |   Meet U.S. Ambassador to Austria, Alexa Wesner English Version – 687 views

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Post … – Jun 27, 2013

BELGIUM

U.S. Ambassador to Kingdom of Belgium Denise Bauer 

Views: 34,261

Officially In: Denise Bauer — from Women for Obama to Belgium

DENMARK

U.S. Ambassador to Denmark Rufus Gifford

Views: 9,974

Officially In: Rufus Gifford — From Obama for America to Denmark

ITALY

U.S. Ambassador to Italy John Philips

 English with Italian Subtitles – 105 views

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts | July 9, 2013

CHAD

U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Chad James Knight

Views – 94

Officially In: James Knight, from Iraq to Chad

LEBANON

U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon David Hale

Views – 60

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts – June 21, 2013

BURKINA FASO

U.S. Ambassador to Burkina Faso Tulinabo Mushingi

Views – 41

Officially In: Tulinabo Mushingi, from S/ES to Burkina Faso

LAOS

U.S. Ambassador to Laos Dan Clune

Part Lao/Lao With English Subtitles – 25 views

Officially In: Dan Clune – From HR/BEX to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic

UNITED KINGDOM

Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s Matthew Barzun

Views: 647

Special mention goes to the US Embassy in London for ditching the video formula and welcoming the new Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s, Matthew Barzun by looking back at some of the former Ambassadors to London in Position Filled at Grosvenor Square! Ambassador Barzun was previously the chief of mission at the US Embassy in Sweden duringPresident Obama’s first term in office.

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Don’t name your sibling charge d’affaires and other zero warranty advice for the road

— By Domani Spero

Late last Friday, the WH released the names of individuals who President Obama intends to nominate as ambassadors to a few cushy appointments in Belgium, Australia, Chile and some not so cushy ones like Cote d’Ivoire, Lebanon, the Lao Republic and others. A week previously, President Obama also announced his nominees for our posts in Spain, Germany, and Denmark.

There’s just enough time for the Senate to hold confirmation hearings before it goes on a summer break. No Paris, London, Tokyo, Luxembourg yet, but they sure will come before much longer.

It  is funny-ha-ha to see the elephant crowd deride the Obama appointments of “bundlers” to ambassadorial posts. We should recall that not too long ago, the donkey crowd also once derided the Bush ambassadorial appointments of “pioneers,” “rangers,” and “super rangers” after two prior elections.

Screen Shot 2013-06-22

Click image to go to AFSA’s Ambassador List

Meanwhile, the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) continues to appeal for a bipartisan commitment to a more professional, better trained and better resourced diplomatic service. It also argues that “the appointment of non-career individuals, however accomplished in their own field, to lead America’s important diplomatic missions abroad should be exceptional and circumscribed, not the routine practice it has become over the last three decades.”

Not bad arguments, of course, except that they’re talking to the wall.

The notion that this practice of appointing mega donors as ambassadors is going to end soon or later (when there’s a new administration) is rather absurd.  The reality is both political parties have an interest in perpetuating this practice. So the people who can put a stop to it, will not stop it.

The American Foreign Service Association statistics on ambassadorial appointments indicate that Presidents Carter and Clinton appointed 26.73% and 27.82% political ambassadors respectively, the lowest in the group.  President Carter has the most number of career appointees at 73.27%.  President Ford who was only in office from August 1974-January 1977 topped the appointment of political ambassadors at 38.2%.  President Bush (41), President Bush (43) and President Obama all have political ambassadorial appointees hovering slightly above the 30 percent mark.  (The AFSA stats did not include a tally of President Reagan’s appointments as of this writing).

It must be said that both parties are equal opportunist during elections.  And the results when it comes to ambassadorial appointments following every election reflect that.

Nixon. Remember former President Nixon’s grand jury testimony unsealed in 2011 where he talked about  the selling of ambassadorships? (see Nixon’s 1975 Grand Jury Testimony: No selling of ambassadorships, but gave a price tag of $250K in 1971).

“I would say, looking at the smaller countries like Luxembourg, that Pearl Mesta wasn’t sent to Luxembourg because she had big bosoms. Pearl Mesta went to Luxembourg because she made a good contribution. But may I say she was a very good ambassador in Luxembourg. And when you talk about selling ambassadorships, I don’t want the record of this Grand Jury 11 even to indicate that people of wealth, because they do make contributions, therefore should be barred from being ambassadors.

The record should clearly indicate that certainly no commitment, no sale of ambassadorships should be made, but, on the other hand, the fact that an individual has proved himself on the American scene, has proved himself by legitimately building a great fortune, rather than being a disqualifier is a factor that can be considered and should be considered in determining whether he should get a position.”

In the face of this long and persistent tradition, we think that an outside group such as, perhaps the American Academy of Diplomacy or a similar entity should consider rating ambassadorial nominees as “well qualified,” “qualified” or “not qualified” before they are confirmed. This is what the American Bar Association has done in over five decades when it comes to judicial nominees and it has shown some influence in the Senate confirmation process.  It will not stop presidents from nominating top donors to plum ambassadorships, but perhaps it will encourage more scrupulous care on the vetting of nominees at the WH and at the Senate during their confirmation hearings.

In the absence of that, political ambassadors ought to follow a few straight-forward rules when going overseas — provided unsolicited below with zero warranty, of course:   (Also see WhirledView: A Primer for first-time U.S. political appointee ambassadors)

1.  First, do no harm.

The governing rule of diplomats, like that of doctors, must be ‘first, do no harm’.  When you get into a tough situation, and you will, whatever you do, do not make it worse.  If your post is working well, be a good steward of the mission. If it’s working badly, try your darnest to make it better.  If you don’t like your DCM, think hard before you kick him/her out and ask for a replacement. And whatever you do, do not/do not ask for a replacement DCM every six months; it won’t end well. (See Which Ambassador is planning to unload his/her DCM shortly and other curtailment news).


2.  Try not to be too memorable that you live on in embassy and host country lore.

Retired FSO George West recalls that “President Truman, in his infinite wisdom and on the advice of his wife, sent Perle Mesta to Luxembourg.”  She was known as “The Hostess with the Mostest” and the inspiration of the Irving Berlin musical ‘Call Me Madam.’  To read more about that appointment in 1948-1950, click here for Mr. West’s oral history.

Remember when? Host countries have long memories.  According to Robert Fritts who was previously our ambassador to Ghana and Rwanda:

“I heard lots of unflattering Luxembourg anecdotes, for example, about Perle Mesta, who had been appointed by President Truman. She also lived on in embassy lore as having named her resident sister rather than the DCM as charge d’affaires a.i. when she left post on one her frequent absences. It got straightened out, but the Luxembourgers never forgot it.”


3.  Not all projects are created equal

President Bush’s Ambassador to Italy, Ronald P. Spogli marked his tenure in Rome in a most tangible way. He presided over the wine cellar construction at the Villa Taverna, the 16th century residence in Rome that has served as home for our ambassadors in Italy for the last 75 years. The project which cost over a million dollars was funded and supported by Italian wineries. (See More on Embassy Rome’s Donated $1.1 Million Wine Cellar).

One of the 2009 ambassadorial appointees during President Obama’s first term in office is Bruce Oreck who went to Finland.  He made the renovation of the US Embassy in Helsinki his top project. His persistence “revived a stalled project to renovate the antiquated and unsafe chancery buildings.” (See US Embassy Helsinki: Ambassador Bruce “Biceps” Oreck Launches Innovation Center).

So perhaps a project that fits a need to a T?   Somebody had already tried a Song and Verse Competition, to iffy results.  Another one had personally designed a health campaign, Let’s Live to unrealistic expectations.

4.  Uncle Sam is cheap, be prepared to spend out-of-pocket

In 2008, forbes.com had an article on ambassadors, primarily on the outgoing Bush Ambassador to London, Robert H. Tuttle.

America’s ambassador to Britain, Robert H. Tuttle, was hosting one of his last lavish breakfasts for guests at his residence near the U.S. embassy in London, the morning after Barack Obama’s election victory.
[…]
American ambassadors picked for desirable posts like London and Paris tend to be wealthy as they are expected to entertain guests more extravagantly than the State Department budget might allow. (Tuttle would no doubt have served highest-quality marmalade and croissants at his post-election breakfast last Wednesday, for instance.) “Ambassadors are given representational funds, but some have chosen to use personal funds to go into their own pockets,” an embassy spokesman said.

No one says why some have chosen to use personal funds.  Perhaps that’s because the official representational funds is nothing to write home about?  An NYT article in January 2013 says that “Deep pockets are an unofficial requirement for many postings” and that “in some capitals they can expect to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on entertaining.”

“The expectation is so ingrained that Timothy J. Roemer, a former congressman, felt compelled to bring up his bank account when Mr. Obama named him ambassador to India. “I told the White House and the State Department early on, I can’t afford to do the job like that,” Mr. Roemer said.”

Not to mention the ambassador’s wife changing clothes three times a day. In Paris.

Harold Geisel, the State Department’s Acting Inspector General is a retired FSO. From 1986-1988, he was the management counselor at the US Embassy in Rome where he served under political ambassador Maxwell Rabb. Below from his oral history via ADST:

About two days into my posting I was up to see him and his wife Ruth was there as well. And he started crying to me about how he was, I think, $20- or $30,000 out-of-pocket on his representation. And I looked at him and I said, look Mr. Ambassador. You live in Villa Taverna, one of the most glorious houses in Rome that was once the summer residence of the Holy Fathers. You go all over Rome in a Cadillac limousine with a motorcycle escort to beat the traffic, you have one of the best cooks in Rome and you get a salary of $90,000 a year. I’ll tell you what. If you’re not happy with it, I’ll pay the $30,000 out-of-pocket and take your place. He looked at Ruth and the two of them just started laughing and laughing. And we were great friends ever since and we even became business partners in a partnership after Rome. You have to know the guy you’re talking to. I mean, there are guys who would have thrown your rear end right out of there on the spot.


5. Ambo call home

A WH official reportedly told an ambassador, “You cannot realistically expect the leader of the free world to stop everything to rescue you from bad guys.” Is the direct line to the president overrated?  When political appointees take the short cut to join the diplomatic service and represent the United States of America, even they, must follow the rules, and there are tons of them in/out of the Foreign Affairs Manual.  This includes the landline and other connections that hook them directly to the mother ship with its corresponding multiple hierarchies.  And the mother ship, like it or not, is in Foggy Bottom, not the White House, even if the latter is the appointing authority.  (see WH to US Ambassador to Malta: Don’t Expect Leader of the Free World to Stop Everything to Rescue You From Bad Guys).

6.  Ambassadors charm school maybe helpful but it’s not enough.

WaPo’s Emily Heil recently reported about the ambassadors charm school, currently in session with some quotes from former ambassadors including this one:

One former ambassador says “charm school” is a misnomer for a rigorously educational and informational session. “Trust me, it’s not about china and teacups,” the graduate said. “It’s about the belly of the beast. It’s ‘here’s how it all works.’ ”

Right.  The US Ambassador to France Charles Rivkin described by the 2012 OIG report as a “dynamic and visionary noncareer ambassador” told Nicholas Kralev in March 2013 that the formal preparation process to become ambassador “was not sufficient for the standards he set himself, and that he “interviewed dozens of former ambassadors, took a lot of notes and learned a lot.”

The former ambassador to Sweden Matthew Barzun (rumored to be the front runner as the next US Ambassador to London)  who also got good marks in the OIG inspection report in 2011 told the IG inspectors that although he took the Department’s course for new chiefs of mission, he feels that “it did not adequately prepare him for the work he faced upon his arrival at post.”

New ambassadors get about two weeks of training at the Foreign Service Institute, the State Department’s training facility in Arlington, Virginia.  Then FSI director Ruth Whiteside told Nicholas Kralev that there is no plan to extend the course and that “The expectation is that they (the ambassadors) will be doing individual consultations on their particular post, have briefings at various agencies and other preparations.” She added that FSI’s job is “to give them the maximum chance for success.”

In two weeks.

(o_o)