The Foreign Service Journal - September 2014 - page 12

12
SEPTEMBER 2014
|
THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
Where Is Our
Ambassador?
A
FSAmembers are very familiar
with the frustrating Senate logjam
that has held up career Foreign Service
members’ ambassadorial nominations
for more than a year in some cases. The
problem has been well documented in
the pages of
The Foreign Service Journal
and
.
One new twist in the story is that for-
eign media have started paying attention,
particularly news outlets in countries
where there has not been an ambassador
for as many as 20 months.
A slew of articles have come out this
summer, complaining loudly about the
absence of a Senate-confirmed U.S.
ambassador. Many have wondered out
loud whether the absence means the U.S.
is not concerned with its bilateral rela-
tions with that country—i.e., “Country X
doesn’t really matter, so there is no rush
to nominate a new ambassador.”
The Irish have been the most indig-
nant, and for good reason. Ambassador
TALKING POINTS
Dan Rooney left Dublin in December
2012, and his replacement—political
appointee Kevin O’Malley—was not
nominated until June 5 of this year.
With the foot-dragging going on in
Congress now, he may not show up in
Ireland until November or December,
meaning that the U.S. embassy will have
been without an ambassador for two
whole years. Both
and
the website
have been vocal
about their displeasure with this unusual
gap in representation.
rit-
ten articles speculating about when the
Obama administration would nominate a
new ambassador; campaign bundler
S. Fitzgerald Haney was finally nomi-
nated to the post on July 9.
And the
Jamaica Gleaner
has onmore
than one occasionwonderedwhy it has
taken so long to replace Ambassador
Pamela Bridgewater. Her successor was
nominated in September 2013, but as of this
writing he is still awaiting confirmation.
Media in Russia, Egypt and Romania
have also raised questions about the
unusually long wait for new ambassa-
dors. In the case of Romania, the previ-
ous incumbent departed Bucharest in
December 2012 and, as of this writing, no
nominee has been put forward.
An interesting exception here has
been media in Norway, where there
seems to be little enthusiasm for confir-
mation of the nominee for Oslo, cam-
paign bundler George Tsunis.
AFSA will continue to pay close
attention to ambassadorial nomina-
tions. Please see this month’s AFSA News
section (p. 55) for a chart showing how
many ambassadorial nominees await
confirmation and how long they have
been waiting.
Julian Steiner, AFSA Staff
Ferguson: Through a
Foreign Lens
“N
ope, this is not Egypt or Turkey.
This is in the USA.”That was the
comment, with a picture from Ferguson,
“A
former director of the American Foreign Service Association (1957-1959) is going to Norway
as ambassador. Margaret Joy Tibbetts, only 44, does not pretend to be stunned by the news.
She doesn’t imagine that the idea never even popped into her head, but says with engaging direct-
ness, “Of course I thought of it! Isn’t being an ambassador the aim and the hope of every Foreign
Service officer?”
She does not profess to be an expert on Norwegian geography, but she has visited the country
twice. As a tourist, she took, in 1951, a cruise from Oslo northward. Since most of the bigger Norwe-
gian towns are situated on the sea, she got a rather comprehensive view of urban life, to say nothing
of the rugged 2,110-mile coastline. Her next visit, in 1958, was a business trip.
On the subject of language, Miss Tibbett is not going to relax just because so many Norwegians
know English. “Not knowing the language of a country means you don’t understand what’s going on
around you, and that’s a distressing state of affairs.” She has already plunged into the study of Norwegian and, having spent
several hours a day with instructors and alone, believes she has made good progress.
In all likelihood the Norwegians will call her “Madame Ambassador”—the title they gave to an earlier ambassador, Miss
Frances Willis.
—From“Washington Letter” by Loren Carroll;
FSJ
, September 1964.
50 Years Ago
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