I guess I'm now an expert on foreign and security appointments of the Obama administration. Apparently, Charles Freeman thinks that I'm one of the people who got him scratched as the administration's chairman of the National Intelligence Council. (I was upbraided for my action by a stiff lady at a Cambridge cocktail party on Thursday: "There have to be some people in Washington who don't take Israel's side." Is she blind? Why does she think Dennis Blair wanted Freeman in the post? Because he loves Israel?)
In any case, a fight seems to be brewing over Christopher Hill's nomination as ambassador to Iraq, a post that needs senatorial confirmation. According to Anne Flaherty of Associated Press, already four Republican senators (John McCain, Lindsay Graham, Sam Brownback, and John Ensign) have lined up to oppose the appointment. Hill is one of the State Department's senior career ambassadors, and he has served in very delicate posts: envoy to Macedonia, Poland and Korea, plus assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs from 2005 to the present. He has taken a hard line against North Korea and its nuclear ambitions. The four horsemen of the senatorial apocalypse, however, do not think he has taken a sufficiently hard line against one of the last communist dictatorship's human rights behavior... or rather anti-human rights behavior. But the fact is that whatever softness Hill has shown on this matter was not his policy but the policy of the Bush administration. You do recall--don't you?--that George Bush was not very consistent on human rights.
The Baghdad posting requires exquisite diplomatic skill, tactical flexibility, and strategic iron. These are traits that people I know and trust testify that Hill has aplenty. My instinct is that the senatorial opposition to Hill is Republican mischief. You let them win this one and they'll oppose everyone.
President Obama is entitled to his emissaries to other countries.