I have to agree with American diplomat John Kael Weston: It’s a scandal that we haven’t had an ambassador in Baghdad since the able Ryan Crocker left in mid-February. Chris Hill’s nomination has been held up in the Senate largely because Senator Sam Brownback accuses Hill of misleading Congress in his previous testimony.
I have no opinion on the specifics of the allegations but I fully agree with Weston that there are a host of urgent issues to confront in Iraq — the most urgent being “a recent outbreak of fighting in Baghdad between the Sons of Iraq (a Sunni group that likely includes at least some former insurgents) and the Iraqi Army”– and that only a full-fledged ambassador can bring sufficient heft to deal with local politicos in a convincing way.
Chris Hill would not have been my first choice for the job, or my second. It would be nice if the administration had chosen someone with some Middle East background rather than a history of ineffectual and feckless negotiations with North Korea. But a second-best ambassador is better than no ambassador at all. Either Brownback et al. should swiftly reach a deal with the administration to send someone else to Baghdad or they should let Hill’s nomination proceed to the Senate floor where he will win confirmation.