It was a good decision. However given recent Ambassadorial nominees for foreign posts, one cannot help but be concerned by what kind of buffoon the hapless US administration will nominate to replace him.
Having previously forced Russia to accept the replacement of an American Ambassador who was well-liked and respected even in the midst of disagreements, Mr. Obama disregarded Moscow’s protests and sent McFaul anyway, despite his record of working to encourage regime change in the former Soviet sphere and regardless of his total lack of diplomatic training or experience.
Michael McFaul started his diplomatic infancy on the wrong foot literally from the moment he touched down in Moscow. Instead of a warming up period to meet with Russian leaders and lawmakers, he dove right in by scheduling meetings with opposition leaders.
McFaul’s tactis were supposedly done to send a message to Russian leader Vladimir Putin that the Obama administration has chosen sides and wanted him gone. The message backfired and the already souring relations began to tank even faster as Mr. Putin announced that he planned to return for a third term and run for re-election.
In the early days of his tenure McFaul was met almost daily met by Russian press who were there to document his meetings with protest leaders. Puzzled by how they knew when and where he would be, McFaul accused the Russians of planting bugs in his office and hacking his mobile phone. Secretary of State Clinton mounted her office telephone and chewed out her counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, for the alleged abuses.
During that conversation Lavrov listened patiently and at last when Mrs. Clinton’s insane rant was over he calmly informed her that McFaul daily tweeted his every move and the Russian press didn’t need bugs and planted microphones when the Ambassador was openly sending not only his daily schedule out to followers but also his up to the moment travels on the way to those meetings. Hell, even us common folk can follow the Ambassador: https://twitter.com/mcfaul
Things quickly got so bad that Mr. Obama had to call long-retired former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger out of hibernation to smooth things over in Moscow. Mr. Kissinger got on a plane to sit down with McFaul for a diplomatic spanking of sorts, then paid a visit to Vladimir Putin. Mr. Kissinger and Mr. Putin have history, they understand and respect each other, and so Kissinger made the case for allowing McFaul to grow into the position and reasoned with the Russians that expelling McFaul would only further harm US-Russian relations.
Our purpose is not to vilify Michael McFaul but you can be damned sure that we lay this colossal ambassadorial failure, or FAIL as the younger generation says, squarely at the feet of a naive and inept American president who baffles us with a level of recklessness not seen in recent administrations. On a personal level we find McFaul engaging and sincere and it is to his credit that he has grown in the job.
When Ambassador McFaul announced that he was stepping down for “personal” reasons one can only conclude that the projected crackdown on personal freedoms once the glow of the Olympics has faded signaled to those in charge that a new face will be needed for the challenges that lie ahead.
The Ambassador does have some accomplishments under his belt including talks on arms-control, his vocal opposition to the so-called Dima Yakovlev law restricting adoption of Russian children, and his efforts in negotiating for the NATO base in Ulyanovsk (southern Russia) to assist in winding down American operations in Afghanistan.
Our hope is that Washington will at this stage get serious about naming an experienced diplomat with Russian experience and not another political fundraising hack. We don’t expect much however if the current Obama nominee as Ambassador to Norway is any example.
Mr. Obama’s nominee for the Norway post promised the Senate during confirmation hearings that he looked forward to working with Norway’s president. Ooops, Norway is a constitutional monarchy and the Norwegian King and Prime Minister will most certainly be surprised to learn that their country has a president. It is pretty bad when even CNN’s Anderson Cooper makes fun of the Obama nominees.
Russians do have a good sense of humour, even in the midst of bungling stupidity from the aliens who dwell along the Potomac and in that spirit the Moscow Times newspaper has a spoof on Ambassador replacement suggestions for the Americans to consider. http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/10-unlikely-candidates-to-replace-michael-mcfaul-photo-essay/494297.html
One can only hope that the aliens dwelling along the Potomac don’t take the list too seriously.