16 December 2012
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U.S. Ambassador positions are for sale to the highest bidder. This unsavory policy, which accelerated under President Bill Clinton, continues under President Barack Obama. For the past four years Senator John Kerry has sought to curry favor from the Obama Administration by rubber-stamping this corrupt practice. As Chairman of the Senator Foreign Relations Committee, he has also ignored criminal waste within USAID and gross mismanagement within the State Department. Oversight of the State Department has virtually ceased to exist. None of that matters because the prize that Senator Kerry seeks is an appointment as Secretary of State. He has sold his soul for a chance at fame and publicity.
As many as a third of U.S. Ambassador positions are awarded to political supporters of Barack Obama and to those who have raised large sums of money for his campaign. The Administration essentially accepts bribes in exchange for diplomatic postings. This practice is damaging to State Department morale and it undermines America’s standing in the world. How can U.S. diplomats object to corruption in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere, when the Obama Administration is selling Ambassador posts?
The Administration is only able to sell Ambassadorships because Senator Kerry allows it to happen. An ethical Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee would refuse to even bring such nominees to a vote. The U.S. Constitution mandates that the President advise but the Senate must consent. As an equal partner in the process, Senators could insist that U.S. Ambassadors be professional diplomats.
Senator Kerry has never challenged the State Department’s bloated budget or its proposed billion-dollar embassy in London or the massive spending on its Baghdad and Kabul embassies, which now are seen as colossal wastes of public funds. He refused to hold State Department and USAID officials accountable for the massive mismanagement of development aid projects in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the failure of the civilian “surge” in both countries. He has refused to hold aggressive public hearings into the September 12, 2012 deaths of four Americans, including the U.S. Ambassador, at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Finally, he has served as an apologist for Ambassador Susan Rice and her disreputable conduct in lying to the American people about the incident. Ambassador Rice’s defense is that she misled the public because to do otherwise would have revealed classified information. Senator Kerry has refused to label such an excuse as nonsense.
For years the U.S. Department of State has drifted along. Despite billions expended to gather and analyze intelligence information on foreign counties, U.S. diplomats continue to react to crises, seemingly because they are unable to predict them. It is difficult to find a federal agency that performs at such a consistently low level of competency. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton plans to retire in January with a record that consists of virtually no diplomatic successes, other than a warming of relations with authoritarian regimes in Uzbekistan, Bahrain, Egypt and Burma.
Four years of diplomatic failures, mismanagement and a loss of public trust will not be reversed by naming a lackluster Senator as Secretary of State. John Kerry would bring nothing to the State Department. America needs a hard-working Secretary of State who is dedicated to concrete achievements rather than photo opportunities and press releases heralding mythical “progress.” It needs a Secretary of State who is not afraid to risk failure in order to achieve success.
Most importantly, American needs a Secretary of State whom the world will believe in and follow. Public trust and credibility are easily lost. Protecting the Administration from embarrassment should never be the position of the Secretary of State. Too many American politicians have forgotten the importance of always telling the truth and the whole truth. Barack Obama needs to continue his search for a dynamic and incorruptible diplomat who can rally the world.