Tuesday, June 19, 2007

My Ryan Crocker conspiracy theory

The U.S. Ambassador to Iraq was on "Meet the Press" this past Sunday (transcript). Watching him, I was struck by how meek and ineffective his presentation was. Looking and sounding like a slightly more youthful Peter Gammons, Crocker was so slow to come up with good answers to Russert's questions that I think Timmy took them on a decided turn for the fluffy in the second half.

Whatever might be said of the Bush White House, they are good at showmanship, and this guy was a glaring exception. I indulged in the sneaking suspicion that he was not given the Ambassadorship to lead any diplomatic effort in Iraq. Because if there's anything more ingrained in the administration than showmanship, it's an aversion to any form of diplomacy other than threatening varying degrees of economic or military action.

What they would want in an Ambassador to Iraq is a guy who seems genuine and hardworking but nonetheless helps convince the American people that diplomacy leads nowhere. I think Crocker fits that bill.

Crazy, right? I thought so too, but now I'm really starting to wonder. In today's WaPo: "Embassy Staff In Baghdad Inadequately Staffed, Rice Is Told"

Told by Crocker, that is. Some choice quotes:

"Simply put, we cannot do the nation's most important work if we do not have the Department's best people," Crocker said in the memo.

But surely our resolute Ambassador is making progress with the cards he was dealt, right?

"He's panicking," said one government official who recently returned from Baghdad, adding that Crocker is carrying a heavy workload...

What goes totally unmentioned in the article is what vital diplomatic efforts are being hindered by the lack of HR staff. But some things are crystal clear:

"They need a cohesive, coherent effort on all fronts," the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Well I can see why, if he's going to drop bombshells like that.

Anyway I still, even after reading this article, don't have any proof that the White House is throwing the game at the U.S. Embassy. In fact, Crocker appears to be extremely, if not uniquely, qualified for the job. But this article sure makes him sound like the fall guy, and judging by his MTP performance he is perfect for the role.

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