The Middle East Channel

A U.S. ambassador is not a policy

The nomination of Robert Ford to be the first U.S. ambassador to Syria since 2005 has prompted a typically partisan, myopic, and sterile Washington debate about whether this step by Barack Obama’s administration represents "appeasement" of Syria. The charge is offensive and absurd, but as was typical of the previous administration’s outlook, it ignores entirely ...

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

The nomination of Robert Ford to be the first U.S. ambassador to Syria since 2005 has prompted a typically partisan, myopic, and sterile Washington debate about whether this step by Barack Obama’s administration represents "appeasement" of Syria. The charge is offensive and absurd, but as was typical of the previous administration’s outlook, it ignores entirely what’s really important to the United States in favor of ideological purity.

This overheated rhetoric is in desperate need of a reality check: A U.S. ambassador is not a policy. A U.S. ambassador is not kryptonite. At best, a U.S. ambassador is a diplomatic representative of the president empowered to speak for the United States to the highest levels of a foreign government. And, apart from running the U.S. Embassy or mission, there’s not much more to it.

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