The United States of America is the only major democratic country in the world that continues to use diplomatic positions for rewarding political connections and it seems that the Obama administration has taken this concept to a new high. Statistics show that in the current tenure of President Obama’s presidency, about 37 percent of foreign diplomacy posts have been awarded to political friends. We are not saying that this is something new as these posts have been used like this throughout the history of United States of America; the issue is that while campaigning for the elections, President Obama made a promise to put an end to the back scratching policies prevalent in the Washington.
- The issue:
A string of recent embarrassing mistakes by the foreign diplomats has brought the spotlight back on this disputed policy of awarding the posts of ambassadors for political benefits. Whitehouse faced some serious and difficult question at the last week’s press meet when the Obama’s nominee to Argentina admitted that he has never visited the country in his past.
- This is not something new:
Appointments to foreign diplomatic posts that are politically motivated is not something that has fallen straight out of the blue. If we take a look back at how President Obama’s appointments stack up against those of his predecessors in the Whitehouse then we find that this is a usual practice followed by almost everyone. Under the presidency of former President Bill Clinton about 28 percent of these appointments were done for political reasons while under the President George w Bush this percentage increased up to 30 percent. Statistics show that in the past about one third of these appointments have been politically motivated. But under the current regime this figure of one third appointments has increased to a staggering 53 percent. That means that less than half of these appointments came from the Foreign Service pool.
Christian Whiton, who has formerly held the key position of State Department Adviser in the Bush Administration commented by saying that “Obama is pushing the envelope”.
This has been a bipartisan practice and hence has not been widely criticized but if we consider the performance during the confirmation hearings of the latest appointments then it raises the concern that the Obama administration is probably sending the wrong message abroad.
If we look at this practice from a different angle then we would find that rewarding the donors with such positions has been a part of the Whitehouse’s history but sending those donors who are completely blank on the situations and issues of the countries to which they are being appointed as ambassadors is something that has never been seen before.
When we raised doubts over such appointments, the state department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that many esteemed U.S. Ambassadors have come from outside the Foreign Service pool, she even cited the example of Sargent Shriver in France. She said that it won’t be wise to assume that they will not perform well, she stressed on the fact that they have had tougher hearings and they deserve some time before any judgment is made.
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