Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

A deal for Vladimir Putin

April 8, 2014

Mark W. Erwin (Ambassador to Mauritius, Seychelles and Comoros, 1999-2001)

Cross-posted from Ambassador Erwin’s March 18, 2014 special to the Charlotte Observer.


Is President Putin missing the obvious in his pursuit of Crimea? Strategically, I can understand why he wants the territory, but his tactics need to be more peaceful and pragmatic. Throughout history, sovereign nations have purchased and sold portions of themselves to one another. The United States is not united because of military conquest alone. We are also who we are due to some great real estate deals.

The Louisiana Purchase of 1803 was a land deal between the United States and France, in which the U.S. acquired 827,000 square miles of land west of the Mississippi River for $15 million dollars. President Thomas Jefferson doubled the size of our young nation.



Ambassador Ashe on Current Events in Ukraine

March 14, 2014

Victor H. Ashe (Ambassador to Poland, 2004-2009)


Having lived in Poland for five years from 2004 to 2009 as the US Ambassador to Poland, I had a front row seat observing the Orange Revolution in the adjacent nation to the east, Ukraine. In that case, a rigged election was thrown out, new elections were held, and a democratically elected President emerged.

He was Viktor Yushchenko whose face had been disfigured a few years earlier in an attack on him. Hopes for success for enjoying freedom and economic vitality with him were high. Celebrations were everywhere.

Then disappointment set in as he fell far short of moving Ukraine to economic stability. The rising economic tide such as it was lifted only some of the boats. During the current crisis, Yushchenko has been silent.


Talk to Iran, it works

November 4, 2013

Ryan Crocker, Ambassador to Afghanistan (2011-2012), Iraq (2007-2009), Pakistan (2004-2007), Syria (1998-2001), Kuwait (1994-1997) and Lebanon (1990-1993)

Cross-posted from Ambassador Crocker’s op-ed in The New York Times.


There were high expectations after President Obama and Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, talked on the phone in late September. Those hoping for a diplomatic resolution to the nuclear standoff were excited that a breakthrough was imminent; meanwhile, some American allies, like Israel and Saudi Arabia, expressed deep skepticism over a potential American rapprochement with Iran.

No breakthrough was achieved when American and Iranian officials met for negotiations last month, but few observers expected one. Later this week, another round of talks is scheduled to begin in Geneva.

The window for achieving a diplomatic solution to the nuclear crisis is not open-ended. Both Mr. Obama and Mr. Rouhani face domestic pressures — from skeptical members of Congress in Washington and anti-American hard-liners in Tehran.


Iraq’s Maliki in DC: Take Down the Welcome Sign

October 31, 2013

Marc Ginsberg (Ambassador to Morocco, 1994-1998)

Cross-posted from Ambassador Ginsberg’s October 31, 2013 special to the Huffington Post.


Iraqi PM Maliki arrived yesterday in Washington hat in hand with a slick sleight of hand to play for unsuspecting Americans.

Despite our ill-conceived investment of blood and treasure to bring a new era to Iraq, Maliki has doubled down on America’s Iraqi disaster by orchestrating his own surge of sectarian violence not seen since the worst days of Iraq’s post-Saddam black years of 2006-2008. The unraveling of the shaky social compact the U.S. left behind has resulted in the deaths of 7,000 Iraqis this year alone. By most accounts Iraq is heading toward an unchecked meltdown, and Maliki would like us to believe he deserves a red carpet welcome as the innocent plaintiff in the upheavals he created, not as the felonious defendant he should be adjudged.

And to top off his disastrous management of Iraq, he wants Washington to legitimate his charade by endorsing his bid for re-election in Iraq’s crucial 2014 elections.


The mess in Egypt: Restricting aid is a mistake

October 28, 2013

Richard W. Carlson (Ambassador to the Seychelles, 1991-1992)

Cross-posted from Ambassador Carlson’s October 26, 2013 op-ed in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.


President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are seriously mishandling the U.S. relationship with Egypt. By cutting off much of the $1.5 billion military assistance package, they are further spreading instability and uncertainty and guaranteeing more chaos in Egypt.


Ambassador Holwill on Syria

September 23, 2013

Richard N. Holwill (Ambassador to Ecuador, 1988-1989; Counselor to the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, 1990-1993)

Cross-posted from Ambassador Holwill’s September 22, 2013 Letter to the Editor published in The Washington Post.


Regarding David Ignatius’s Sept. 19 op-ed column, “Obama’s uncredited win”:

President Obama failed a basic test of leadership. He did not get Congress, commentators or the public to follow his lead. This failure was driven by the fact that he did not identify or articulate the critical U.S. interest at stake with regard to chemical weapons in Syria. That interest is quite clear: Al-Qaeda cannot be allowed to capture chemical weapons from Syrian forces. In this regard, we have a common interest with the Russians. They cannot allow chemical weapons to fall into the hands of a group that could transfer them to Chechens.


Ambassador Stephenson on Syria

September 19, 2013

Thomas Stephenson (Ambassador to Portugal, 2007-2009)


There is nothing easy about conducting effective diplomacy, and doing so in the Middle East has been especially challenging over the decades since the end of WWII.  A U.S. administration needs to have a vision of and a strategy for what it wants to attempt to accomplish with an individual country or in a particular geographic region.  Events will, of course, intervene in unanticipated and complicating ways, but adherence to underlying principals should be evident to all concerned.  It is somewhere between difficult and impossible to describe what our policy is today with regard to the Middle East.   Pressing the “reset button” with Russia and “leading from behind” are not viable strategies to guide foreign policy and diplomacy.  Syria, unfortunately, is only the latest in a string of hesitations and missteps that have characterized our Middle East policy in the last five years.


Ambassador Erwin on Syria

September 6, 2013

Mark W. Erwin (Ambassador to Mauritius, Seychelles and Comoros, 1999-2001)


Dear Mr. President,

This is not about politics. It is about the rule of law. No matter how you parse it, launching missiles and dropping bombs on the sovereign territory of another nation is in fact an act of extreme aggression. It is not a “Shot across the bow.” People will die and likely some will be nothing more or less than citizens. To my knowledge Syria has never committed any act of aggression toward America.

If this is about you following up on your threat regarding some imaginary “Red Line,” get over it. We are the mightiest nation on earth but that does not give us the right or authority to attack another nation even when we think they are abusing their own citizens. That would make us a bully. If that were the case, where should we begin and where should we stop. Sudan? South Sudan? Congo? Rwanda? Uganda…