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Ricciardone Watch

Francis “Frank” Ricciardone, President Obama’s recess appointment as U.S. ambassador to Turkey, is once again affirming the concerns that led his nomination to get held up in the Senate.

In his first interview as ambassador with Turkey’s mass circulation daily Milliyet, Ricciardone tries to paper over differences between Ankara and Washington. “Our interests are similar,” he said. “Even if we have different methods and targets, our strategic vision is the same.”

Alas, our interests are anything but similar, and our strategic vision is no longer the same:

  • Turkey’s government embraces Hamas and Hezbollah and refuses to consider these groups as terrorists.
  • Turkey’s prime minister has defended Sudanese president Omar El-Bashir, and denied that Bashir is complicit in any mass killings in Darfur.
  • Turkey’s prime minister has accepted a $250,000 prize from Muammar Qaddafi, and now works to preserve his rule.
  • Turkey’s prime minister has drawn his country much closer to Iran’s orbit, and defended Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
  • Turkey has become the most anti-American country in the Middle East.
  • The Turkish government has slid back from democracy and is drifting closer to autocracy.
  • The Turkish government has ushered in a period of anti-Semitism unprecedented in Turkish history.
  • Turkish journalists live in fear.
  • Women are fast becoming an oppressed class in modern Turkey.

The United States would be better served if Ricciardone enunciated these differences and defended American policies and freedoms, but that is not the culture which the State Department ingrains in its diplomats. Perhaps the only silver lining is for Ricciardone himself. When he retires, he will have his pick of dictators for which to shill.



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