04.08.2020 Author: Vladimir Platov

US Ambassadors as Lead Performers at a Political Circus

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As numerous media publications can attest, US ambassadors continue to keep everyone’s attention riveted, eliciting what is by no means the most favorable reactions from the audience.

Previously, Polish media outlets had already publicized fairly harsh criticism leveled at Georgette Mosbacher, the US Ambassador to Warsaw, who uses Poland as a club with which she threatens to beat other countries, demonstrating that her main priority is only the income received by American business owners in this Eastern European country. And so, seeing this unflagging, pointed disdain on the part of Ms. Mosbacher toward the Poles, MPs from the Polish nationalist party Confederation demanded that she be deemed a persona non grata. “The time has come to declare Ms. Mosbacher a persona non grata in Poland. We call upon the government to take decisive action on this issue. Let the government stop pretending that the ambassador is not behaving as if she is some kind of governor in Poland,” stated Robert Winnicki, a Polish Sejm deputy. Expressing the opinion held by the Confederation party, the parliamentarian stressed that Mosbacher’s actions run counter to the Geneva Convention, and that she shamelessly interferes in Polish domestic politics and criticizes the actions taken by the Polish authorities. Another deputy in the party, Grzegorz Braun, proclaimed that Confederation urges that the ambassador be deemed a persona non grata in Poland.

But Poland is not the only place nowadays where there is a push to declare a US ambassador as persona non grata. In Zimbabwe, at the end of July the ruling party Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) also put on its agenda the issue of whether the presence of the current US Ambassador, Brian Nichols, in the country is undesirable, and demanded that he stop interfering in the domestic political affairs of the African nation. Otherwise, as a publication by the Chinese Xinhua News Agency stated, Washington’s diplomatic representative could be expelled from the country. Patrick Chinamasa, acting secretary for information and public relations for ZANU-PF, said in his statement to the press that the US ambassador is involved in financing unrest in the country, and in getting mass protests ready in Zimbabwe. The ZANU-PF leadership points to a direct connection between the US embassy and initiating unrest in the country, and delivered a reminder that Zimbabwe is not one of the 50 US states and, therefore, the Washington ambassador needs to refrain from directly interfering in the country’s domestic affairs.

Relations between the United States and Zimbabwe have noticeably deteriorated recently amid a storm of criticism that fell upon the United States after the death of George Floyd there. In June, the Zimbabwe Civil Forum, and the Alliance Against Sanctions, appealed to the city council in its capital, Harare, with an initiative to rename the street where the US embassy is located to George Floyd Street, giving it the name of the man killed in Minneapolis. “In memory of our brother Floyd, who was killed in a horrible manner, we have decided to rename the street that runs in front of the US Embassy in his honor,” states a document prepared by Zimbabwean activists. “We need to constantly remind the Americans that they have innocent blood on their hands, the blood of a black man”. Activists underscored that the act of renaming the street should be “a tribute to Floyd, whose death marks the end of all forms of oppression, discrimination, and racism; his death has set us free.” Then US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien described Harare as an “adversary” of Washington that, along with Moscow and Beijing, allegedly interferes in US domestic affairs. Sibusiso Moyo, the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, drew attention to the patent absurdity of these accusations during a meeting with the US Ambassador in Zimbabwe, Brian Nichols.

Besides Poland and Zimbabwe, criticism of the actions taken by the US embassy continues unabated in Germany as well. Despite the fact that Richard Grenell, who gained infamy for his outrageous behavior and harsh criticism of Germany’s actions, and who was called the “governor in Germany of an emperor from Washington” in January by German politicians, left his position as US ambassador to Germany in June, the seeds of authoritarianism that he managed to sow at the US embassy in that country have shot up lush sprouts. Consequently, the US Embassy, in keeping with its previous disrespectful attitude toward the domestic policy and actions taken by Germany, continued to use a fairly harsh tone to caution German companies against participating in the construction of Nord Stream 2, noting the “danger” this project poses for “joint security interests in Europe”. In an effort to replace the principles of market relations with its dictate, and to completely subordinate the energy policy adopted by Germany – and the entire European Union – to the control of the United States, the US Embassy is not ceasing its provocative actions, and the threats of the US imposing sanctions, against this gas cooperation project between Germany and Russia that is very important and interesting in both commercial and financial terms.

Hoping to give new impetus to “putting the squeeze on Germany” with the “experienced hand of an army man,” at the end of July President Donald Trump nominated retired Army Colonel Douglas MacGregor for the post of the new US Ambassador to Germany. He left the US Army in 2004, and is well-known as the author of quite a few works on military subject matter and security issues, and regularly appears as a guest speaker for the Fox News TV channel. He took part in the development of the Dayton Accords, and was the director of the NATO Joint Operations Center during the operation against Yugoslavia. In his official autobiography, he indicates that he is responsible for the “strategic planning” for the NATO forces bombing Yugoslavia. Owing to these points, according to the forecasts made by a number of observers, if MacGregor’s candidacy is approved by the Senate, then many aspects of his behavior in Germany will be derived from his predecessor, Richard Grenell, causing concern and anxiety in Berlin and Europe, including due to efforts to prevent the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

This author would like to conclude this short demonstration of the behavior exhibited by American ambassadors in recent times, with South Korea, where US Ambassador Harry Harris, who was the subject of strong criticism leveled at him in the country in recent times due to his mustache, ultimately heeded that criticism and shaved it off. His former chevron mustache reminded South Koreans of the 8 governors-general that ruled the country with an “iron fist” during the Japanese period of colonization (from 1910-1945). In addition, South Korean citizens noticed a strong resemblance between Harris and Marshal Hasegawa Yoshimichi, the governor-general on the peninsula from 1916-1919, famous for his brutal suppression of the uprising for Korean independence on 1 March 1919. On top of that, the association drawn between the American diplomat and these Japanese historical figures was reinforced by the fact that he was born on the outskirts of Tokyo to an American military serviceman and a Japanese woman.

Vladimir Platov, Middle East expert, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

 


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