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Ambassador-less in Iraq.

April 19, 2009

So I read this OpEd piece over at the New York Times the other day… it really got me thinking about the status of affairs in Iraq and how close we really are to being able to withdraw US forces and have a stable Iraq governing functioning on its own. It would seem that everyone is telling us we are thisclose to leaving, that we are on the brink of letting them go forth and prosper on their own. But this article makes me think they may be putting the carriage before the horses.

 

“A prominent tribal sheik — the top vote-getter in January’s Provincial Council election in Anbar Province — recently told me [author John K. Weston] and Marine leaders in Falluja that Iraqis were concerned that no one had heard from or seen the new American ambassador.”

No one has heard from our new Ambassador to Iraq? Sadly, this is the truth folks. It isn’t a mistake, it isn’t a plan, it is us leaving our embassy in Iraq empty. E-M-P-T-Y. There is no one home.

 

“The United States has not had an ambassador in Iraq since Ryan Crocker left Baghdad on Feb. 13. The nomination of Christopher R. Hill, President Obama’s designated representative, remains tied up in the Senate. And the longer we go without an ambassador, the more a disservice — and a dangerous one at that — we do to our 140,000-plus troops and diplomats and to the Iraqi people.”

What is interesting is that the GOP’s top critics of Hill have pushed off the vote until April 20th after the Senate’s Easter break. Because wars and insurgents wait for Christian holidays, right? Now, you all should know that I’m neither a supporter nor a critic of Hill. That isn’t what this post is about (though it does appear that he will be approved at the vote on the 20th and has said he would leave for Baghdad immediately after his approval). But how can our Senators justify leaving our embassy empty in the middle of a war for over 2 months? Vacant. Zero presence.

“Now more than ever, our top general in four-star uniform needs a pinstriped State Department partner who will fight the political wars raging here. … Convincing the fractious spectrum of Iraqi religious and ethnic communities that the United States remains committed to fostering an enduring nonsectarian Iraq cannot be a part-time job; it requires full-time and top-level effort. Nor should the task rest primarily on the shoulders of our able military leadership and the highly regarded current No. 2, Robert Ford, who is fluent in Arabic and has served several tours in Iraq already.”

What this says to me is that some member of our Senate are taking what should be a top priority and turning it into a party fight. And what does it say about our priorities and concern for the Iraqi people if we can’t (won’t) get a replacement over there post haste? What does this say about our commitment to getting things done, getting them on their way to doing it ‘alone’? “Further delays and Capitol Hill maneuverings are lost in translation over here, among both the Iraqis and the Americans serving our country in these dangerous deserts.”

I am sure that some would argue that the Senators who are questioning Hill are doing it because they have concerns over his prior history. All of this is well and good, but wouldn’t it seem like having an experienced diplomat over there now, getting things moving and progressing is better than waiting and having a vacant embassy? This isn’t the time to drag heels. And what if Hill doesn’t get approved? How long will the Iraqis and our troops have to wait to have the political support from an ambassador? Another 2 months? Maybe more? I don’t know what the answer is, but there is an important job to be done over there and I hope that someone is there to fill it soon. For everyone’s sake.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 19, 2009 4:17 pm

    I say we take Sam Brownback (R-Kan), put him in 80+ pounds of battle gear, make him spend a day or two walking in a soldier’s proverbial boots, and then see if he doesn’t come home and knock his obstructionist games off.

  2. April 19, 2009 5:01 pm

    I dont think an ambassador would make a huge difference. Since when are they doing more than official bankets, photo-ops and maaaaaaaybe on good days paperwork.

  3. April 19, 2009 6:31 pm

    While that may be true, he is a representative of our country, our troops and our interests. If we don’t have anyone there at those functions or photo ops it sends the message that we don’t care. And we should because we are the ones helping them get to where they (and we) want them to be: A democratic state. It is a matter of principle and priority… this sends the message that they aren’t a priority and that is what I think the problem is. Justmy 2 cents.

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