The Guardian newspaper has recently reported that, the co-author of the State Department’s independent Benghazi audit, Thomas Pickering, is anything but satisfied with President Obama’s custom of handing out ambassadorial posts to those who are willing to pay for it.
While it’s easy to understand why appointees would rather be designated to the top most desirable postings, The Guardian’s analysis revealed that at least 10 of the better positions were doled out to business people who happened to raise $1.8 million each during Obama’s campaign. Top bidders managed to nab every one of the 10 most desirable postings available.
According to The Hill, the White House insists that President Obama’s appointees obtained their postings because of their qualifications and success as business people.
The Guardian also interviewed the American Foreign Service Association’s President, Susan Johnson. According to the publication, she also expressed frustration when asked about President Obama’s policy of designating postings to the highest bidders. According to Johnson, “there was some thought that with Obama being such a ‘change agent’ that he might really do things differently – but it has just been a bigger let down.”
AFSA’s President believed that awarding ambassadorships to those who raise top dollar for the President’s campaign is a practice that has become much too popular, which worries her and other members of the association.
This report comes on the heels of an announcement issued by the State Department inspector general stating that the campaign finance chair for Obama, Nicole Avant was presiding over the Bahamas embassy during an “extended period of dysfunctional leadership and mismanagement.” This report could indicate that the way in which this administration has been picking its ambassadors is simply not working, to say the least.
According to the Foreign Service Act of 1980, “contributions to political campaigns should not be a factor in the appointment of an individual as a chief of mission.” Perhaps, this is the best time for professional diplomacy to make a historical comeback; the time for the country’s practice of using “hard power” to handle its problems must come to an end.