Nomination: Ambassador Michele Jeanne Sison to be U.S. Ambassador to Haiti

Posted: 1:25 am ET
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On July 20, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Ambassador Michele Sison to be the U.S. Ambassador to Haiti. The WH released a brief bio:

Michele Jeanne Sison of Maryland to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Haiti.  Ms. Sison, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Career Minister, has served as an American diplomat since 1982.  She currently serves as Deputy Permanent Representative at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York, a position she has held since 2014.  A three-time Ambassador, Ms. Sison has been a leader, policymaker, and manager of complex programs in South Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and in Washington, D.C.  She has served at eleven U.S. Missions overseas and in senior leadership positions at the Department of State.  Ms. Sison earned a B.A. from Wellesley College.  She speaks fluent French and basic Haitian Creole and Arabic.

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Duterte Announces Break-Up With America Before Applauding Chinese Audience

Posted: 3:23 pm ET
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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte visited China recently, and the Chinese rolled out the red carpet. See the video here of the grand arrival ceremony complete with children waving the Philippine and Chinese flags. This video cites Chinese respect for the Philippines by displaying the Philippine flag above the Chinese flag.  Also below is an interesting take from a Filipino writer describing a prior presidential visit to China as he watched the Duterte visit and what he calls China’s  “dragon dance of celebration.”

While in China, Duterte was famously quoted for saying he is “separating” from the United States. Below is the video where the president of America’s longest ally in Asia is lambasting all Americans and their character during his October 20, 2016 speech in China. He calls Americans — and not just Americans he dealt with — but basically all Americans and westerners as discourteous, and loud, “their voice in their larynx not well adjusted to civility.” He said, he did not really like Americans because long ago  he had an experience with American idiotic arrogance. He proceeds to retell a story about being stopped at LAX by an African-American immigration official who he describes in detail and then says no racial slur intended. It sounds like he was taken to a secondary interview which he recalls as an interrogation.  (By the way, according to WaPo’s David Nakamura, Duterte has reportedly told aides to be sure he doesn’t go thru US airport en route to Peru for APEC next month). So at some point during this China talk, he complains about Filipinos going to the U.S. who are berated and humiliated when applying for visas while Americans are allowed to visit the Philippines without visas.  Would not be surprised if he would soon want Americans visiting the Philippines to get visas.

He offers to collect whatever debts the U.S. owe China  as long as he can keep some of it and says  “Duterte of the Philippines is very towards China because China has a character of an oriental.” He gives the reason why he decided to “shift-gears.” There is also a portion here where he talks about US aid to the Philippines and how it has not really changed the lives of the people in his country.  The speech is delivered mostly in English. We have not been able to find a transcript of this speech, but if there is one, it would read exactly like a convoluted Trump speech. He complimented China for its “sincerity” and complains that Americans and President Obama never apologized to him. At the end of this speech, he says, “In this venue, I announced my separation from the United States” to great applause.

Here is a quick recap if you were not following this break-up:

On October 24, China announced that it has donated millions to the Philippines after Super Typhoon Lawin (Haima).  According to rappler.com, the Chinese embassy said it donated P50 million to the Philippine government on Monday “for the disaster relief of farmers and fishermen in the affected regions.” China also committed around P35 million to Philippine anti-disaster efforts. The Red Cross Society of China “will also provide humanitarian aid of $100,000 to the Philippines.”

Here is President Duterte with his new best friend in Manila, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua while the former calculates all that money donated by China “with no strings attached.”

Earlier, the State Department announced that EAP Assistant Secretary Russel will travel to the Philippines on October 22–25, to meet with government officials and have lunch with Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) participants.  While in Manila A/S Russel said he had candidly told Philippine Foreign Minister Yasay that Manila’s friends were concerned about the high loss of life in Duterte’s campaign against drugs and reiterated the importance of due process, according to Reuters.  Russel said “a real climate of uncertainty about the Philippines’ intentions had created consternation in many countries,” including the United States. He said that worry extended beyond governments to corporate boardrooms and warned that it was “bad for business” in “a very competitive region.”

Here are some clips with A/S Russel, whatever he says, we expect it would not go down well in Manila. Note that A/S Russel says: “It’s a mistake to think that improved relations between Manila and Beijing somehow come at the expense of the United States, that’s not the way we think about it…”  It looks like the Duterte comments spliced in the clip below were made on October 19, so before the Russel visit to Manila. But we’re posting this clip here because the Duterte comments are relevant, nonetheless.

Of course, as can be expected, President Duterte delivered another rant.  Below is President Duterte with comments mostly in Tagalog and a sprinkling of English. From what we could tell he is talking about chop-suey and “historical hurts that will not go away” when Manila was bombed in World War II.  This is undated but he is citing comments from A/S Russel and Ambassador Goldberg.  You want to know his intention in terms of military cooperation? Here  he is talking about not/not wanting “any military man of any other nation, except the Philippine soldier” in the country. And when America talks about defending the Philippines, he asks, who from — citing the bogeyman of wars.  The AFP quotes him separately as saying “I want them out and if I have to revise or abrogate agreements, executive agreements, I will,” he added. (If tweeps want to help translate the Tagalog part of the video below, email us here).

As a background to Duterte’s anti-American stance, read the clips below about the Philippines, starting with James Fallows ‘A Damaged Culture’ following Corazon Aquino’s People Power Revolution in 1986. Also a useful list of grievances below via WSJ that goes back years for Mr. Duterte — from America’s  invasion of the Philippines in 1898 to the visa denial for Duterte and the cancellation of a work visa for his partner in 2002, and that’s just for starters.

We think A/S Russel’s message will not get though the noise. We also doubt that the next ambassador to Manila if confirmed, will find a friendly face at the presidential palace. Duterte’s beef is not with specific individuals, or even a specific American administration, it is with Americans as a whole. It sounds like he perceived all his encounters with Americans as bad.  We kept waiting for him to scream “Yanquis go home!” Meanwhile, the State Department continues to be deluded with what is now a one-sided love affair.

The official spox says that  they’re taking the “long view.” “The long view, in our mind, is a sustained, healthy, vibrant bilateral relationship with the people and the government of the Philippines.”  Mr. Duterte’s term doesn’t end until 2022, can we actually expect the United States to simply go around the country’s head of state? How would that work? Maybe before things totally go off the rails, the administration ought to consider deploying Ambassador Michele Sison, Foggy Bottom’s highest ranking Filipino-American diplomat to give an assist at APEC in November and even in Manila?

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US Senate Confirms Eleven Ambassadorial Nominees

The United States Senate on its floor wrap up for Friday before leaving town discharged the Foreign Relations Committee and confirmed the following nominees:

PN1680Derek J. Mitchell, of Connecticut, to be Ambassador to the Union of Burma.

DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Executive Calendar #768 Edward M. Alford, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador to the Republic of The Gambia.

Executive Calendar #769 Peter William Bodde, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador to the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal.

Executive Calendar #770 Piper Anne Wind Campbell, of the District of Columbia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador to Mongolia.

Executive Calendar #771 Dorothea-Maria Rosen, of California, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador to the Federated States of Micronesia.

Executive Calendar #772 Mark L. Asquino, of the District of Columbia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador to the Republic of Equatorial Guinea.

Executive Calendar #773 Michele Jeanne Sison, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary to the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Maldives.

Executive Calendar #774 Douglas M. Griffiths, of Texas, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador to the Republic of Mozambique.

Executive Calendar #775 Jay Nicholas Anania, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador to the Republic of Suriname.

Executive Calendar #776 Susan Marsh Elliott, of Florida, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador to the Republic of Tajikistan.

Executive Calendar #778 Richard L. Morningstar, of Massachusetts, to be Ambassador to the Republic of Azerbaijan.

The Senate reconvenes on Monday, July 9, 2012.

Domani Spero

SFRC Clears Eleven Ambassadorial Nominees

On Jun 19, 2012 the Committee on Foreign Relations cleared the following eleven ambassadorial nominees. The nominations will now go to the full Senate for the confirmation votes.

Edward M. Alford, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of The Gambia.

Peter William Bodde, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal.

Piper Anne Wind Campbell, of the District of Columbia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Mongolia.

Dorothea-Maria Rosen, of California, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Federated States of Micronesia

Mark L. Asquino, of the District of Columbia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Equatorial Guinea

Michele Jeanne Sison, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Maldives.

Douglas M. Griffiths, of Texas, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Mozambique

Jay Nicholas Anania, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Suriname

Susan Marsh Elliott, of Florida, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Tajikistan

Timothy M. Broas, of Maryland, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of the Netherlands (Non-Career)

Richard L. Morningstar, of Massachusetts, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Azerbaijan (Non-Career)

Also on Jun 19, 2012, the Senate received the official withdrawal of Brett McGurk’s nomination:

PN1498    DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Brett H. McGurk, of Connecticut, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Iraq.
Received message of withdrawal of nomination from the President.

Domani Spero