Unqualified ambassadors hardly unique to Obama

By Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

Dale Herspring’s Feb. 23 column, “Obama picks incompetent ambassadors,” attacked the current administration for putting politics ahead of professionalism in choosing diplomats.

Though he did not cite a source, Herspring claimed that 50 percent of the Obama admin-istration’s ambassadorial ap-pointments have been political appointees, compared to a his-torical norm of only 25 percent.

The facts do not bear this out. According to the American Foreign Service Association, the professional organization of American diplomats, 37 percent of Obama’s appointees have been political, not 50 percent. That compares to 30 percent for George W. Bush, 28 percent for Bill Clinton, 31 percent for George H. W. Bush, and 38 percent for Ronald Reagan.

There is, of course, no excuse for appointing unqualified peo-ple to important diplomatic posts. But fairness requires acknowledging that this is a long-term problem for American foreign policy, not something unique to the Obama admin-istration.

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