Tuesday, July 20, 2010

White-boy shuffle! or, the Sec. State Human Centipede

I have just been introduced to "The Cable", which is Foreign Policy Magazine's deep look into how the US Foreign Policy sausage is made. My views of FPM in its online version are pretty cynical. Then again, I am an acolyte at the Church of Yell. But I suppose somebody has to breathlessly report insider deals, so lets look at the ones that affect Turkey.

Josh Rogin is informing us that a battle is brewing over the new US ambassador to Turkey. The candidate is
...Francis J. Ricciardone, Jr., is a 32-year veteran of the Foreign Service who most recently served as the deputy ambassador in Kabul. He's served in Ankara in the past and speaks fluent Turkish. Ricciardone also played a role in organizing the Iraqi exile community before the 2003 U.S. drive to Baghdad.
Which is quite the resume. I see one big steaming failure, one huge mark for, and one accomplice-in-a-miscegnated-attempt-at-empire-building. In short, an insider is on track for one of the most insidery jobs of all. This should not be a surprise.

We are also told, however, that Ricciardone was ambassador to Egypt in 2005, during this "Arab Spring" thing that I missed the first time around. Basically, because Palestine, Lebanon, and Iraq had some elections, that meant that everything was supposed to go alright for the US. Except that Palestine elected Hamas, Lebanon has a Kafka-esque parliament system that helps Hezboallah succeed, and the term "Mission Accomplished" was about 2 years past being funny. So somehow its Ricciardone's fault that in Egypt, Mubarak did exactly what everyone thought he would do: chafe at giving the Muslim Brotherhood any voice and continue his autocratic reign. In short, we should be upset, maybe, that Riccardione didn't do the single most amazing diplomatic job since Camp David.

Look, there are two bullshit quotes in this article:
  • "the tenuous state of Turkey's relationship with the West."- GOP aide. What the hell does this mean? Will there be another earthquake, and the Bosphorus is going to widen by 200 miles, and the bridges will snap? Or does it mean that because it's not the Cold War anymore and Turkey has relationships with their non-NATO neighbors means that they're all wearing Turbans and shouting "Allah'u Akbar!" Turkey is as much a part of the West as the Chronicles of Narnia and Cheesecake. Stay focused on those mid-term elections
  • "Let's face it, there hasn't been much of an Obama effect in Turkey, so having an ambassador there who can get out among the people could be very useful." - Steven Cook. There's an old story about Turkmenbashi wearing a fake beard and being driven around Ashgabat in his State Limo. He goes up to Turkmen and asks them what they think of the way the country is going. Since Turkmenbashi's picture/statue is everywhere in Ashgabat, and nobody has a state limo besides T-Bash, the Turkmen he interviews have a good idea of who's asking, and what they should say...what I'm trying to say is, the Obama effect isn't real and ambassadors don't get a feel of the country by chatting up a kebabci.
Better quotes include, from the comments section, "wordpress is predictably hostile to the people of the United States, so look forward to your comments/remarks simply being passed over." I'm on Blogspot! USA! USA!

And my personal favorite: "'We don't need to put up much of a fight because things are moving so slowly anyway,' the aide said." Diplomacy...thunder made of slow. A buzzard eating the carcass of a sloth. You get the picture.


And just because I'm not done mocking this ridiculousness, here's the follow-up article.Boilerplate terms, assurances that Turkey, like Israel is a friend of the US, and that complicated issues are ahead. Throw in some "blah blah terrorism blah blah" and "Hey, the dude who has brought the gossip tense to anglophone journalism is going to Iraq" and you almost have enough filler for a story.

This right here is a lot of written words. It's all about nothing. If you're looking for a personality-driven field, it ain't diplomacy. The names of these guys doesn't mean anything...its all white dudes from old stock who are there to replace others who look like them and went to the same colleges as they did. And then they'll say the same thing. Diplomacy is only interesting when its done creatively. This is just silverbacks posturing. Do not be alarmed, shocked, or even give a wooden nickel about the stuff that FPM finds newsworthy.

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