Amb. Hoekstra Apologizes For Netherlands Comment: “It Was Wrong”

Posted: 4:42 am ET

 

We previously blogged about the new U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands here:

On January 12, two weeks after he first issued his ‘non-apology’ apology, Ambassador Hoekstra finally admitted during an interview with De Telegraaf that what he said about the Netherlands “was wrong.” The apology came after headlines calling the top American representative in the Netherlands “Lying Pete Hoekstra” and the lying Dutchman, and after the State Department “made clear to the ambassador that – that he must move to get this behind him.”

On January 11, U/S Goldstein told members of the press that they “should turn into that interview tomorrow” in reference to the long-form interview that turned out to be one with De Telegraaf.  As of this writing, we have searched but have not been able to locate a transcript of Ambassador Hoekstra’s interview where he offered his apology.  There also is no mention of this interview nor the transcript of the interview on the website of U.S. Embassy The Hague.

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The Peter Hoekstra Fall Out Continues, Long-Form Interview With a Dutch Outlet Coming Soon

Posted: 2:47 am ET

 

The last year, we’ve seen the State Department officially distanced itself from public comments made by its official representative in Israel.  On September 11, 2017, the State Department had to distance itself from a comment made by its top representative in Israel (see @StateDept: Ambassador Friedman’s comment “does not represent a shift in U.S. policy”.  And on September 28, State Department spox Heather Nauert, once more from the podium, said that it’s ambassador’s two percent comment “should not be read as a change in U.S. policy (see @StateDept on Amb. Friedman’s comment (again): “should not be read as a change in U.S. policy”).

The latest addition to this disturbing trend is the new U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands Peter Hoekstra.  In December, we blogged about the then Ambassador-Designate’s double whoppers during an interview with a Dutch journalist (see New U.S. Ambassador Peter Hoekstra Makes Splash With Whoppers on Dutch TV). On December 23, the newest representative of the United States Government to the Netherlands issued a non apology-apology (see Amb. Designate Hoekstra Issues an “Apology,” Gets Roasted on Twitter). On January 10, his first day in office as the United States Ambassador to The Hague, social media noted his grilling by the Dutch press over his controversial claims (see Amb. Hoesktra Presents His Credentials to the King, Then Gets Properly Grilled By the Dutch Press).

On January 11, during the State Department’s On-the-Record-Briefing with the new Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Steve Goldstein, the top official was similarly grilled by the press about the ambassador’s statements.

So for a third time now, two political ambassadors have caused more work for the building because of their public statements. The top State Department public affairs official went on to disavow Ambassador Hoekstra’s statements saying, “The State Department does not agree with those statements. That is not the language that we would use.” U/S Goldstein also told the press corps that there is now a plan for Ambassador Hoekstra to have long-form interview with a Dutch outlet on January 12. Mr. Goldstein said that Ambassador Hoesktra “also plans over the weekend to be available within many of the communities in the capital, including Muslim communities” and that the State Department has “made clear to the ambassador that – that he must move to get this behind him.”

Also FYI, the United States ambassador serve the people of the United States, and not the people of his/her host country. When junior diplomats completing their training at the Foreign Service Institute are asked where is their country, you expect them to point to their country, the United States of America, and not their country of assignment. Both Ambassador Hoekstra and U/S Goldstein appears to seek to endear themselves to the Dutch and make this controversy go away by talking about “loving” the Netherlands, and commitment to “serving the people of the Netherlands.”

Stop that, please. We can see what you’re trying to do.

If Ambassador Hoekstra is interested in putting this behind him, he should own up to his mistake and make a real apology because people watching are not dimwits. A retraction would be a good place to start. And then maybe the local press will allow him to put this behind him.

Via state.gov, Jan 11:

QUESTION: Ambassador Pete Hoekstra in the Netherlands had his debut for the Dutch media. It didn’t go real well. Just to start off, does the State Department agree with his earlier comments that politicians have been burned as a result of Islamist movements and that there are no-go zones in the Netherlands?

UNDER SECRETARY GOLDSTEIN: No. The State Department does not agree with those statements. That is not the language that we would use.

QUESTION: Would you like the ambassador to maybe retract those given all of the controversy it seems to be causing?

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Amb. Hoekstra Presents His Credentials to the King, Then Gets Properly Grilled By the Dutch Press

Posted: 2:44 am ET
 

 

So the new U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands Peter Hoekstra presented his credentials to King Willem-Alexander on January 10. The same day, he also faced a grilling from members of the Dutch press. And if that’s not memorable enough, the Dutch Review has a screaming headline that says “It’s Lying Pete Hoeskta’s first day as the US Ambassador in the Netherlands.”

We are having a brain freeze trying to remember if anything like this ever happened before.  Oh, we can’t remember anything. Just that there was no way the embassy could have avoided this incident. Had Ambassador Hoesktra offered a fuller apology after that meltdown of an interview, he would not have been facing a fiery press on his first official day as representative of the United States to the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

NLtimes reported that when asked about his previous controversial comments, he announced, “I won’t comment on the matter anymore”. Apparently, he told the press that “now that he is a representative of the American administration, his personal opinions or comments are no longer what matters.” As if somehow “the matter” would simply go away.  It won’t. And Dutch reporters will not stop asking just because Ambassador Hoekstra refuses to comment. And with every future event, we will get similar video clips.  So we doubt very much if this is the end of it. He will get a reminder about this at his every encounter with the Dutch press.

Also see New U.S. Ambassador Peter Hoekstra Makes Splash With Whoppers on Dutch TVAmb. Designate Hoekstra Issues an “Apology,” Gets Roasted on TwitterNomination: Ex-Congressman Peter Hoekstra to be U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands).

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Amb. Designate Hoekstra Issues an “Apology,” Gets Roasted on Twitter

Posted: 1:16 am ET

 

Last week, we blogged about Ambassador-Designate Peter Hoekstra’s double whoppers during an interview with a Dutch journalist (see New U.S. Ambassador Peter Hoekstra Makes Splash With Whoppers on Dutch TV). On December 23, the newest representative of the United States Government to the Netherlands issued a non apology-apology.  It is not exactly clear what it is he is apologizing for — he “regret the exchange” but did not apologize for the remarks he made in 2015, or for lying about it? He regret participating in an interview that went off the rails on video? In any case, he did issue an apology for something, but Twitter folks were not at all happy about it.

AND THE WINNER IS –TA-DA! Our eyes are leaking badly, help ….

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New U.S. Ambassador Peter Hoekstra Makes Splash With Whoppers on Dutch TV

Posted: 2:59 pm PT

 

We got an odd feeling that they’re laughing at us. Nah? You mean that’s just people’s imagination?  Did the new ambassador to the Netherlands  think so poorly of the Dutch that he could do this without a second thought? The host country nationals will remember this every time he opens his mouth during his tenure in the Netherlands. Brown paper bags for face gears are on discount for the rest of the year, folks. Go get.

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Happy 2016! New Year Wishes Around the Foreign Service (Videos)

Posted: 7:08 pm EDT
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U.S. Embassy Bangkok continues its creative streak. See post’s … it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s superm …. it’s a drone moment! With embassy staff and Ambassador Glyn Davies.

 

Here is U.S. Embassy Islamabad‘s happy 2016 video. These folks’ smiles are contagious, aren’t they? Naya Saal Mubarak!

 

Ambassador Joan Polaschik and her staff at U.S. Embassy Algiers say they look forward to the year ahead, and hope that it will be filled with peace, prosperity and more opportunities to strengthen the ties between the two countries.

 

Yeni yılınız kutlu olsun from U.S. Embassy Ankara with a message from Ambassador John Bass. The video has annotations added for viewers to learn more about embassy programs done in 2015.

 

U.S. Embassy The Hague with Ambassador Timothy Broas on the highlights from 2015. They said it was another great year for U.S. – Dutch cooperation and they look forward to what 2016 will bring.

 

U.S. Embassy San Jose with Ambassador with S. Fitzgerald Haney with a year in review in Costa Rica.

 

Happy New Year from the U.S. Embassy Paramaribo! This is Ambassador Nolan’s first time lighting a pagara. Enjoy!

 

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Around the Foreign Service — Remembrances and Commemorations, Memorial Day 2015

Posted: 5:28 pm  PDT
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US Embassy Belgium

U.S. Memorial Day commemorations in Belgium | Each year, the U.S. Embassy to the Kingdom of Belgium observes Memorial Day by participating in commemoration ceremonies to honor the more than 14,000 American soldiers buried in Belgium in World War One and World War Two cemeteries.

Photo by US Embassy Brussels/FB

Photo by US Embassy Brussels/FB

US Embassy Romania

US Embassy Bucharest, Romania |  Chargé d’Affaires a.i. Dean Thompson at the occasion of Memorial Day Ceremony. Bucharest, May 22, 2015 (Lucian Crusoveanu / Public Diplomacy Office)

Photo by US Embassy Romania/Flickr

Photo by US Embassy Romania/Flickr

US Mission NATO

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US Embassy United Kingdom

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USCG Strasbourg, France

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US Consulate Halifax, Canada

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US Embassy New Zealand

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US Embassy Netherlands

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Photo of the Day: Secretary Kerry Swears in Ambassador Timothy Broas

— Domani Spero

 

 

Secretary Kerry Swears in Ambassador Broas With Julie Broas looking on, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry swears in Tim Broas as U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on April 10, 2014. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

Secretary Kerry Swears in Ambassador Broas
With Julie Broas looking on, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry swears in Tim Broas as U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on April 10, 2014. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

 

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Confirmations: Barry Heyman, Puneet Talwar, Dwight L. Bush Sr, Timothy M. Broas , Arun Madhavan Kumar

— Domani Spero

On March 12, the U.S. Senate confirmed the following State Department nominee by voice vote:

  • Bruce Heyman, of IL, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Canada

On March 13, the U.S. Senate confirmed a few more:

  • Puneet Talwar – to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Political-Military Affairs)
  • Dwight L. Bush, Sr – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Morocco
  • Timothy M. Broas – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of the Netherlands
  • Arun Madhavan Kumar – to be Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Director General of the United States and Foreign Commercial Service (FCS)

Below is Ambassador Broas in an intro video produced by the State Dept’s Bureau of International Information Programs where he talks about his Dutch ancestry and how he wants to connect with the people of the Netherlands! 

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Officially Out: WH Withdraws Tim Broas’ Nomination as Next Dutch Ambassador

On April 26, 2012, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Tim Broas as the next Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands.  The WH released the following brief bio at that time:

Tim Broas is currently a partner at Winston and Strawn, LLP.   Mr. Broas also serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, having been appointed by President Obama in December 2010.  From 1986 to 1995, he was a partner at Anderson Hibey & Blair.  Previously, Mr. Broas worked as an attorney at Whitman & Ransom from 1983 to 1985, and at Conboy Hewitt O’Brien & Boardman from 1980 to 1983.  From 1979 to 1980, he served as a law clerk for Justice Mark Sullivan of the Supreme Court of New Jersey.   Mr. Broas received a B.A. from Boston College and a J.D. from the College of William and Mary.

On April 27, the Center for Public Integrity reported that Mr. Broas is one of 117 Obama bundlers and has raised more than $500,000 for Obama’s re-election efforts

On June 13, he had his nomination hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:

Mr. Timothy M. Broas
of Maryland, to be Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Download Testimony

On June 19, 2012, the SFRC cleared his nomination and his name was sent to the full Senate for a vote.

On June 28, the WH officially withdrew Mr. Broas’ nomination:

Timothy M. Broas, of Maryland, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which was sent to the Senate on April 26, 2012.

As of June 28, the United States Senate officially posted the withdrawal:

Nomination Withdrawn: Senate received notification of withdrawal of the following nomination:
Timothy M. Broas, of Maryland, to be Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which was sent to the Senate on April 26, 2012.

Surely, a replacement can be found, and the vetting process can be started once more, but do you really want to be the next political appointee to go through that process when the presidential election in right around the corner? It seems to me like the US Embassy in The Hague may have to do without a politically connected ambassador until spring next year.  Until then, career diplomat, Edwin (“Ned”) Nolan who has been Chargé d’Affaires ad interim since September 2011 and Deputy Chief of Mission of Embassy The Hague since January 2010 will  have to do.

Update: The Center for Public Integrity is reporting that the White House has withdrawn the nomination of Washington attorney Timothy M. Broas following charges of drunk driving and resisting arrest in suburban Maryland earlier last week. He was reportedly pulled over on June 19, and was ticketed for driving 47 miles per hour in a 35 mile per hour zone. Read more here.

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