American diplomats are supposed to be tough and courageous. And, according to Dave Seminara, able. “They learn the local languages and quickly become experts in their fields.”
A Partisan Fishing Expedition
Mr. Seminara, a journalist and former diplomat, argues (abridged) in the WSJ that the House impeachment inquiry is a “partisan fishing expedition.” The former diplomat tuned into the hearings rooting for his erstwhile colleagues to acquit themselves. Instead, he writes, foreign-service officers were props in a political drama that became a made-for-TV spectacle.
Foreign-service officers serve in more than 200 posts around the world, most in places where few Americans would want to live. They learn the local languages and quickly become experts in their fields. Yet when the countries where they serve make news, politicians and policy makers often disregard their expertise. I hoped that the hearings might serve as an argument for why administrations, Republican or Democratic, should lean more on the foreign service.
George Kent: The deputy assistant secretary of state in charge of Ukraine policy disappointed Mr. Seminara on the first day by, as he reports, “droning on at length about his family tree.” The public, he continues, probably has “a vague impression of diplomats as effete bores who sip tea with their pinky fingers out and have ancestors who came over on the Mayflower.” When President Trump later mocked Kent’s “wonderful bow tie,” Kent, unfortunately, fit the part.
Bill Taylor and Marie Yovanovitch: These ambassadors were “rightfully disturbed that Rudy Giuliani had his own back channel in Ukraine and had more clout and access to key policymakers than they did. But this is common. Recall that Hillary Clinton exchanged more than 150 emails about Libya with confidant Sidney Blumenthal and not one with Ambassador Christopher Stevens.”
Mr. Seminara goes on to say that Ms. Yovanovitch has served the country “admirably in dangerous places and undoubtedly is a courageous person.” But, he continues, why was she questioned so delicately? It was as though she had survived some sort of trauma. Daniel Goldman, the Democrats’ lead counsel, said at one point, “Without upsetting you too much, I’d like to show you the excerpts from the call.”
When Chairman Adam Schiff asked her if the President’s disparaging tweets about her might intimidate other witnesses, Yovanovitch replied, “Well, it’s very intimidating,”
Seminara wishes Yovanovitch had rejected the victim role the Democrats wanted her to play. How great it would have been if she had dismissively said, “I’m not intimidated by anyone sending tweets, even if it’s the president.”
Sober Heroes or Willing Accomplices?
Perhaps last week’s hearings will help some Americans understand their valuable service to our country, but most Republicans and independents will view them as willing accomplices in an effort to oust a president they don’t like. Democrats will cheer them on for the same reason.
If only one side is lauding you as heroes, you can bet the other now views you with even more suspicion than before. That isn’t a good look for American diplomacy.
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