Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Why Did Obama Appoint Caroline Kennedy As U.S. Ambassador To Japan?

Joseph P. Kennedy’s granddaughter and JFK and Jackie Kennedy Onassis’s daughter—Caroline Kennedy—neither spoke much Japanese nor possessed much diplomatic experience in 2013 Yet in June 2013 Caroline Kennedy was appointed by Democratic President Obama to be the U.S. government’s Ambassador to Japan.

A June 26, 2013 RT News article, however, indicated why the Democratic Obama White House may have felt that it was politically appropriate to name Caroline Kennedy to be its Ambassador to Japan:

“Since Obama’s reelection, top diplomatic posts in Spain, Belgium, Italy and the UK have been given to top donors. According to Bloomberg no fewer than 26 of the administration’s serving and nominated ambassadors were major Democratic campaign contributors….

“More recently, the announcement this week of Caroline Kennedy as Ambassador to Japan also indicates a preference for using prestigious diplomatic appointments as rewards for help on the campaign trail. As the only surviving child of former president John F. Kennedy and the torchbearer of that political dynasty, Caroline Kennedy’s early 2008 endorsement of Obama helped propel his campaign forward against his formidable challenger, former first lady and later secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

“It was Caroline Kennedy’s 2008 piece for The New York Times entitled 'A President Like My Father' which lent Obama major support from the family, along with an endorsement from former Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy…”

But the same RT News article also noted:

“…Although Ms. Kennedy is trained as a lawyer, her lack of political experience has led some critics to question whether she is up to the task…Clyde Prestowitz, the current president of the Economic Strategy Institute in Washington and the man who led US trade negotiations with Japan, questioned why the administration chose to appoint both Kennedy and her predecessor John Roos, a technology lawyer and a top Obama donor, neither of whom speak Japanese…David J. Rothkopf, the CEO and Editor-at-large of Foreign Policy magazine, as well as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote a scathing review of her appointment on Thursday.

“`The Kennedy nomination is perhaps the first time in history that an individual has been nominated for a top ambassadorial post primarily for having written an opinion column,’“ wrote Rothkopf.

“Likewise, members of the foreign service have previously expressed irritation that top diplomatic missions have gone to`“campaign bundlers’ rather than career diplomats.

“`Now is the time to end the spoils system and the de facto “three-year rental” of ambassadorships,’ the group's governing board wrote in a 2012 statement.

“`The appointment of non-career individuals, however accomplished in their own field, to lead America’s important diplomatic missions abroad should be exceptional and circumscribed, not the routine practice it has become over the last three decades,’ they added.”

According to the all-gov website, “Caroline Kennedy has contributed more than $55,000 to party candidates and organizations, including $5,500 to the Democratic National Committee, $5,000 to Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, $4,600 to his 2008 campaign, $4,600 to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential primary run, and $5,000 to her 2006 senatorial campaign.” And according to a 2011 Center for Public Integrity website article, “the American Foreign Service Association…believes these appointments should go mostly to career diplomats;” and “the organization cites the 1980 Foreign Service Act, which states that appointees should have a `useful knowledge of the language … and understanding of the history, the culture, the economic and political institutions and the interests of that country.’”

The same Center for Public Integrity website article also noted:

"The 1980 federal law...states that political contributions `should not be a factor' in picking ambassadors, though presidents of both parties have all but ignored that.

"Passing over career diplomats in favor of mega-donors amounts to `selling ambassadorships,' said Susan Johnson, president of the American Foreign Service Association. She said it runs contrary to the law and is unethical, yet,`“That hasn’t stopped anybody.'”

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