White House Silliness: Whiners Try to Micro-Manage America’s Effective Ambassador to UN


I’m not sure of this, but my hunch is that Zalmay Khalilzad is probably the highest level Muslim in the Bush administration, and he’s brought a skill set of diplomatic dexterity to the Ambassadorial position at the United Nations vacated by John Bolton.
Various UN watchers, international diplomats, and even other colleagues of his inside the White House see that Khalilzad has bolstered America’s position and credentials at the United Nations.
But now someone in the White House (and I have a short list of who it might have been) is sniping at Ambassador Khalilzad in a manufactured controversy over Khalilzad sitting beside Iran’s foreign minister at a World Economic Forum meeting captured in a YouTube clip.

America negotiated with Iran in stabilizing Afghanistan. America has negotiated with Iran in many different arenas. For one of John Bolton’s White House pals to be pounding on Khalilzad for sitting next to Iran’s Foreign Minister seems petty.
I have since learned from a source familiar with the Davos meeting that Khalilzad was originally not part of this Iran-focused World Economic Forum meeting and was added at the last moment by the session moderator. That may account for the lack of diplomatic management of panel seating.
Khalilzad’s spokesman, Richard Grenell, is quick to point out that Khalilzad and Iran Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki didn’t shake hands or meet separately. Grenell told Helene Cooper of the New York Times that Khalilzad was engaged in “just a multilateral conversation with the moderator.”
Whatever the truth here, it does seem to me that Khalilzad is positioning himself as an engagement guy, though some close to him assure me that he is not working to undermine America’s current “no high level diplomatic contact” posture toward Iran (though I wish he was).
One of the other oddities here is that Condoleezza Rice has not swatted Khalilzad for this seating arrangement/faux pas — as she did Jay Lefkowitz recently for his comments about North Korea’s nuclear program at an AEI event.
The engagers seem to be nudging forward as the pugnacious nationalists in the administration snipe — but seriously, to go to the New York Times with a seating complaint is quite petty.
One wonders how long the Ambassador will stay in this administration. He seems to be better appreciated by the Davos crowd actually than his colleagues in the White House.
— Steve Clemons


6 comments on “White House Silliness: Whiners Try to Micro-Manage America’s Effective Ambassador to UN

  1. rt says:

    Look Mr Clemons, I trust your judgement.
    If you are confident enough to write (over and over, seconds after the event) that Burns really does want to spend more time with his family, then I don’t start looking for a neocon push.
    Even if some unnamed insiders say he is gonna spend more time with his family while unnamed others say he will simultaneously keep working the India deal and work on a new job to make money for the kids, and somehow this is retiring at the age of 51, all this a day before doing the huge Germany sanction meet… Oh and yet more unnamed sources speculate he will join Condi on her presidential ticket…
    Sure… have fun with the kids, even if his name keeps popping up trough google news with every single global issue of the day.
    But if days later his Iranian counterpart does the same thing (http://www.meepas.com/Iran_foreign_minister_to_resign.htm), only to be replaced by someone more ideological than the neocons. And that after the rumored replacement appeared with Bush pal Khalilzad for which the lasts got an undeserved slap. All of this follows an as of yet unexplained event where common Iran/US encounters in the Hormuz strait turned from common to scary, back to common again and Russia can’t be convinced to up the pressure (expected, but not getting attention), obviously something is going on.
    Why are then engagement people dropping like flies and ducking for cover on both sides? Does Khalilzad really have cooties?


  2. anna missed says:

    Could this have anything to do with Khalilzad pining for Karzai’s job? Or implicit mistrust born of Chalabi working both sides?


  3. Skulz Fontaine says:

    The Bush gang of war criminals “outted’ Valerie Plame and they’ll hoist Khalilzad on their own petard. So this would be diplomacy by retards? I fully confess to slandering the retarded by making the comparison. How much treason MUST these United States have to endure under the Bushistas? Golly, maybe that’s a ‘rhetorical’ question.


  4. Mr.Murder says:

    Iran and Syria stepped up immediately when 9-11 happened to help us try and interdict, even try to extradite or question Al Qaeda and Taliban assets as they could best determine.
    They didn’t trust those extremists.
    It was deliberate that we squandered that political capital, all in an effort to bottleneck world oil reserves.
    Mission Accomplished.


  5. zackadoo says:

    Steve, because I read your blog, I know that this maladministration is hell-bent on blocking every diplomatic avenue between this country and Iran. We can wonder about Cheney’s influence, but the fact repeats itself over and over again: every effort at reducing the likelihood of war with Iran is torpedoed or crushed. “Micro-manage” is too tolerant a term for this sort of homicidal/suicidal behavior.


  6. Robert M. says:

    Oh, go ahead, Steve, drop a dime on the name. He/she is not likely speaking to you anyway, or only out of courtesy while considering you a girly-man behind your back. As Andy S says in another context, these are conservatives conserving what??
    As to the Ambassador staying, why not? What else is he going to do between now & December? He’s already bought into all the worse that this admin can do, plus he needs a last chapter for his memoirs, How I Escaped from Baghdad Laughing All The Way, Keeping Condi Between Me and Cheney. Though likely he’s got feelers out for the big paycheck. Don’t they all?


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