Barack Obama is once again selling the U.S. Ambassador post to the United Kingdom. In his first term, a bribe (i.e., campaign contribution) of $300,000 was sufficient for political campaign contributor Louis Susman to purchase the position. Today, the price has increased to $2.3 million, but that was easily paid by Obama campaign contributor Matthew Barzun, the new nominee to the Court of St. James. Mr. Barzun, as the new Ambassador, will be able to purchase a 20-minute royal audience at Buckingham Palace with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The stated purpose is for him to present his Letter of Credence to the Queen. Prime Minister David Cameron and Britain Foreign Secretary William Hague should be protecting the Queen from having to suffer such an indignity.
It is sad that Great Britain does not rate a professional diplomat. It merely serves as a dumping ground for President Obama’s political debts. When Barzun’s tour expires, or he becomes bored, perhaps his successor will be able to buy the post at Wal-Mart, or perhaps on line at eBay, or perhaps even on an American game show.
The U.S. Department of State currently awards contracts worth tens of millions of dollars each year to politically connected consultants who travel to developing countries in order to “instruct” them on anti-corruption practices. Secretary of State John Kerry is directing this effort while selling diplomatic posts to the highest bidder; a highly corrupt practice. He seems oblivious to the damage such corruption is causing to the image of the United States.
While there is corruption within Afghanistan, the people of Afghanistan have a genuine respect for Her Majesty. The Government of Afghanistan, for all its flaws, would never think of offending the Royal Family. It may be necessary, in the future, for the Government in Kabul to dispatch a delegation to Washington, D.C. to instruct the Obama Administration on how to battle corruption within its diplomatic service. The first step would be to end the abhorrent practice of selling U.S. Ambassador posts.
The statistics are dismaying. Barack Obama has nominated the highest percentage of political appointees in U.S. history as Ambassadors: 32.2%. Campaign contributors and campaign “bundlers” have reportedly been nominated for the top U.S. diplomatic posts in Italy, Spain, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, France, Hungry, Switzerland and Singapore. They, along with Britain, have the distinction of being diplomatic backwaters where non-professionals can play at being ambassador because no important diplomatic interests are at stake,
The impact of this corruption does not end with the appointments of these persons. It is important for the world to follow the careers of those who purchase U.S. diplomatic posts. Take former Ambassador Susman. He has cashed in on his foreign policy adventure in Great Britain by accepting an appointment to the board of “J Street,” a pro-Israel lobbying group in Washington, D.C. He is, in effect, selling his contacts with the Obama Administration and the British Government.
The issue for the House of Commons and the British people is whether the post of Ambassador to the United Kingdom, and the resulting royal access, should be a “party favor” to be dispensed as an American political reward. One would think that it would be an insult to America’s “closest ally” to be so treated. The response in Great Britain and the rest of subservient Europe should be to, “Just Say No! Alas, that seems too much for its old and tired bureaucracies.