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  • There Is No Place Like Home

    Posted by James R. Rummel on February 4th, 2011 (All posts by )

    Obama donor who brought in big money for the Presidential campaign is rewarded by being named Ambassador to Luxembourg.

    To the victor goes the spoils, and she acted like the perfect little dictator in her vitally important posting. She could do as she pleased, right? After all, The Pres had her back! Might as well use legation funds to live the high life, act like a raging crone to the staff, and otherwise make the lives of everyone around her a living hell.

    What blows my mind is that some of the diplomats assigned to her post actually requested reassignment to Afghanistan! Give up the cushy conditions in a modern European city, and trade it for the poverty and physical danger found in Kabul. Anything to get away from that harridan!

    The author of the news article linked to above says that such is the danger when amateurs meddle in a field that clearly calls for career diplomats. I think it shows the danger of passing out important positions to political supporters without first bothering to ask if they are suited for the job.

    But now she is going to retire to a quiet life with her family. Why is it that these people always claim to find a sudden burning desire for the home fires after their excesses are found out?


    10 Responses to “There Is No Place Like Home”

    1. Helen Says:

      Call Me Madam springs to mind.

    2. Dexter Trask Says:

      Morale at post is vital. I can completely believe that some of them curtailed out of Luxembourg for an AfPak assignment. (However, if they were savvy, they linked their Kabul tour to an onward assignment back in Europe.)

    3. Helen Says:

      It is, of course, possible that they just didn’t notice that they had left Luxembourg. Easy to do if your attention slips for a minute. Wham, you are in another country.

    4. nohype Says:

      I wondered where she got her money, so I googled her. Her father was a rags-to-riches story who became a major philanthropist in Seattle. She is rich but has never done much on her own, like many of those who think they are better than the rest of us.

    5. Consul-At-Arms Says:

      It certainly doesn’t sound good when career officers are jumping ship to Kabul and other rough neighborhoods to get out of Luxembourg. A lot of officers spend many years building up the kind of street cred and “equity” (by serving in tough posts) necessary to get a plum like Luxembourg.

      Consider, for a moment, some of the likely French-speaking garden spots an officer might go just for the chance of a Luxembourg, Brussels, or Paris.

      The thing about going to Kabul or other AfPak/Iraq posts is that it’s sort of like hitting the Re-Set button or “Pass Go – Collect $200.” These days you can link that service to onward assignment at, hopefully, one of your “dream posts” (think Paris, Brussels, Luxembourg-under-new-management).

      I’ve quoted you and linked to you here:

    6. Robert Schwartz Says:

      If you appoint a “professional diplomat” to the job you get an ivy league swot who will not support the policies of an American President.

      Maybe we ought to go for a lottery.

    7. John Burgess Says:

      In my 25-year foreign service career, I’ve worked with both career and political ambassadors. Neither is definitionally better than the other. Where with a politically appointed ambassador you can get the occasional yahoo, harridan, dunce, or bozo, with a career ambassador you can get the man or woman who made a great political officer by is in far over his/her head when it comes to the actual formation of policy or directing an embassy. Yes, ambassadors have Deputy Chiefs of Mission (DCMs) who are charged with the day-to-day management, but they are constrained, to a lesser or greater degree, by the personality of the ambassador. DCMs also have to be competent and capable and that’s not always a given, either.

      My best and worst ambassadors were both political appointees. The career ambassadors ranged from excellent to ‘ought to be institutionalized, if not jailed’.

      Presidents from the first days of the Republic have used diplomatic appointments as spoils to be distributed. As they say, “Politics and elections have consequences.” There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that. Ambassadors serve not only as representatives of the US, but as the personal representative of the President. Many countries want–and demand, if they can–that the US Ambassador be a political appointee. They want the comfort of knowing (or hoping) that rather than going through layers of bureaucrats in State Dept. to be heard in the White House, the appointee can and will pick up the phone and talk to the President directly. Generally speaking, the more important the country (there is a correlation with comfort here), the greater the likelihood that the US Ambassador will be an appointee.

    8. Anonymous Says:

      The fso career offficers are the people responsible for nuclear weapons in Iran and Pakistan. They support Hamas and Hezb’allah. They call themselves “realists” but they are self-centered bigots who feel anyone with a off-white skin color is incapable of sustaining a democracy.

      They feel women should be barefoot and pregnant, wearing a veil. They worked to undermine the ambassador and force her resignation because she was a woman and because she was not fso. They started renovating her living quarters just before she arrived and then set impossible security requirements for replacement quarters. When she was forced to devote 100% of her time to finding an acceptable place to sleep they sent complaining Emails to Washington. When she ordered one of the 98 employees at the embassy to help, they complained even louder.

      They should all be sent to Egypt.

    9. James R. Rummel Says:

      “They worked to undermine the ambassador and force her resignation because she was a woman and because she was not fso.”

      The report from the internal State Dept. investigation says that even the local civilian staff suffered from plunging morale and naked fear from the Ambassador’s rages.

      The very notion that everyone assigned to the Embassy were sexist bigots who, simmering with rage at having a person with distaff organs placed in command, decided to brew up a conspiracy to sabotage her time at the post is risible.

      Add to that the fact that everyone down to the housekeepers claimed to be afraid of her, scared that their livelihoods would be cut short due to an emotional outburst on the part of the Ambassador.

      In the light of such evidence, such claims appear to be nothing more than the first refuge of a scoundrel when their bad behavior is brought to light.

    10. John Burgess Says:

      @Robert Schwartz: It’s been at least a generation since State was populated by the Ivies. Yes, you can find a few, but most State officers come from pretty typical American backgrounds. They went to a wide range of universities (or none as State is one of the few agencies left where a university degree is not required) all across the US. At my last post, my office had people graduating from state schools in Texas, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Illinois, Georgia, and Indiana. Nary an Ivy among them. There was one Harvard graduate in the entire embassy; he got his BS at 16, holds 11 (yes, eleven) MS and four PhD degrees. Far from a WASP, he started out in Roxbury, MA.

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