Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Regarding The Ambassadorial Appointment Stories

A reader writes asking whether or not I will be posting on the rumored imminent nomination of Caroline Kennedy as the new United States Ambassador in Tokyo. (Link)

In early in March I said that I look favorably upon the appointment, with Robert Dujarric offering a wise suggestion in comments.

My position has not changed in the interim.

As for the "Joseph Nye is seen as a better" crowd, I have only one question; why is your list of alternatives "Joseph Nye" and nobody else?

While we are on the subject of U.S. Ambassadors to Tokyo, CSIS has provided a transcript of former Ambassador Thomas Schieffer's keynote address at the annual conference of Japan-U.S. alliance managers (Link). The Texas Democrat's take on the status of the alliance reads rather well. Given what I know of Schieffer's timbre and timing, it probably sounded 10 times better.

Schieffer does not figure highly in the pantheon of former ambassadors for reasons that escape me. He did make the mistake of not calling upon Ozawa Ichiro and the Democratic Party of Japan during the first 15 months following Ozawa's taking over the helm of the Democratic Party of Japan, setting the stage for an incredibly embarrassing first meeting with Ozawa after the Abe Shinzo-led Liberal Democratic Party's defeat in the 2007 House of Councillors election. Other than this howling error, Schieffer was an assiduous, conscientious and level-headed advocate for the United States.

The last of which may have been the problem.

That Schieffer possesses a sharp mind as well as a sharp wit is not in doubt. Proof: he was able to go into a business with George W. Bush, giving Bush a management position in that business, and end the arrangement happily, netting tens of millions of dollars.

Let the improbability of that outcome sink in for a second.

Despite his smarts, he looked down upon no one. The one time I met him, at a reception at the Embassy of Luxembourg, he walked up to the receiving line, alone. When Luxembourg staffers tried to lead him past the receiving line to greet the Luxembourg Ambassador right away, Schieffer waved them off with a gentle, "If you don't mind, I would prefer to stand in line and wait my turn just like everybody else" -- which he then proceeded to do.

I suppose his handlers never knew quite what to make of him.

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