Letter to Obama: Forget about Romania!

Romania, along with Bolivia, Costa Rica, Egypt, Ireland, Madagascar and Venezuela, are the last countries that do not even have a nomination for the position of American ambassador. We are the only NATO member in this uncertain position in the last 20 years. Romania should take into account a different plan — asking Obama not to send any ambassador.

For the past 14 months, Romania — “America’s valuable partner,” as Washington likes to sweet-talk us, has had no American ambassador. The diplomatic mission is currently led by Chargé d’affaires ad interim Duane Butcher, who stayed at the embassy after Mark Gitenstein’s mandate ended.

Back in November, based on reports coming from the Foreign Service Association, CIA and State Department, we showed that Romania was left in the last group of 10 countries regarding diplomatic nominations, the only NATO member state for which no steps whatsoever have been taken toward furthering a proposal to Barack Obama. In Bucharest, the explanation was the internal political conflicts in the United States. However, the process of assigning American ambassadors across the world continued despite these conflicts; out of the previous 10, seven were still left. The Bahamas received a nomination, as did Switzerland (and Liechtenstein), and as far as I know, Eritrea will be left with a chargé d’affaires. Besides Romania, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Egypt, Ireland, Madagascar (and Comoros) and Venezuela don’t even have a nomination. There’s also Sudan, Belarus and Syria, where no ambassador will be sent.

Since Alfred H. Moses in 1994, when almost two years went by before Bill Clinton sent an ambassador to Romania, the American diplomatic mission in Bucharest never had to wait so long for the arrival of a new ambassador. Even so, given all the slip-ups of the Obama administration over the last few months with politically naming people who knew nothing about the countries they were going to for the first time(!), Romania had better convince the Americans not to name anyone and keep Butcher in Bucharest:

Mr. President,

I know I’ve been a quibbler lately when it came to you, and when it came to America getting a salary raise, and you thinking about everyone — and I mean everyone, Mr. President, even the citizens of Palau and the checks and balances in Lesotho — except us. For more than a year, you couldn’t find the time to send an ambassador also to Romania. We’re a proud country, Mr. President; it hurts to always feel like the underdog. We’re really struggling to look good compared to Bulgaria, and you want to explain to us why Trinidad and Tobago, East Timor and the rest of the world deserved ambassadors, but we didn’t?

I know, Mr. President, that I made comments with the same spite as Putin when he accused foreign journalists in the doorless rooms of Sochi of enjoying making comments. I do apologize, Mr. President. I offer you my honest Romanian apologies, and I am asking you to forget everything. Don’t send anyone! Leave Duane Butcher here. We can swallow our pride and be like Sudan, having just a chargé d’affaires at the American Embassy.

You see, Barack, if I may, after watching the hearings of those you did manage to nominate, I feel it is my duty as a Romanian to beg you not to send anyone else. Robert Barber, whom you want send to Iceland; George Tsunis, whom you would ship straight to Norway; Noah Bryson Mamet, nominated for Argentina; “soap opera queen” Colleen Bradley Bell, whom you gave to the Hungarians! How shameful! Compared to the first three previously mentioned, at least Duane was — and still is — in Romania!

At least, we won’t have to hear one of the emissaries you sent to Bucharest saying, like the aforementioned, that they hadn’t had the pleasure of visiting the country where you want them as ambassadors. Butcher is here, truly enjoying it, I’m sure. He knows Victor Ponta,* he knows Crin Antonescu,** he knows Traian Băsescu,*** and he knows what the deal is with concerned statements about the independence of justice. It’s OK, leave things the way they are.

It’s true that Mr. Butcher is not a great benefactor or bundler for any of your campaigns, nor of the Democrats. But you know who I found digging up databases? Mamet of Argentina, Tsusis of Norway, Bradley Bell of Hungary. I see them all in the “$500,000 and more” section, as bundlers in the 2012 campaign. Why couldn’t you give them back a few thousand, so they could have had the pleasure of shortly visiting the countries which, according to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, they only read about on Wikipedia?

And thinking about all the other generous benefactors I found on your list of nominees! During your two mandates, I even discovered a tendency of rewarding benefactors with positions as ambassadors in Europe. And you forgot the 70-30 rule! You reached 53.2 percent political designations for diplomatic missions! Republicans will gossip, Mr. President. You even let Nancy Pelosi state recently on Jon Stewart’s show that the Republican elephant is the only one corrupted by money, and that your donkey is keeping its hooves to itself ….

I won’t take any more of your time, but please consider this: Don’t beat yourself up about us! Leave Butcher, and we’re done. Yes, you can!


On behalf of Romania

*Translator’s note: This is the prime minister of Romania.

**Translator’s note: This is the president of the National Liberal Party in Romania.

***Translator’s note: This is the president of Romania.

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