What ambassadors do …


"Sergey I. Kislyak, the longtime Russian ambassador to the United States, hosted a dazzling dinner in his three-story, Beaux-Arts mansion four blocks north of the White House to toast Michael A. McFaul just weeks before he took up his post as the American envoy to Russia.

It was, Mr. McFaul recalled, an “over-the-top, extraordinary dinner,” including five courses of Russian fusion cuisine for 50 seated guests who shared one main characteristic: They were government officials intimately involved in formulating Russia policy for the Obama administration, including senior figures from the Defense and State Departments.

“I admired the fact that he was trying to reach deep into our government to cultivate relations with all kinds of people,” Mr. McFaul said of the dinner in late 2011. “I was impressed by the way he went about that kind of socializing, the way he went about entertaining, but always with a political objective.”

Mr. Kislyak’s networking success has landed him at the center of a sprawling controversy and made him the most prominent, if politically radioactive, ambassador in Washington. Two advisers to President Trump have run into trouble for not being more candid about contacts with Mr. Kislyak: Michael T. Flynn, who was forced to resign as national security adviser, and now Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who admitted two previously undisclosed conversations. Mr. Kislyak also met during the transition with Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner."  NY Times


 For those of you who do not have a lot of knowledge of what ambassadors do for a living:

1.  They have primary responsibility to serve as a main channel of communication to the government of the country or countries to which they are accredited.  Some ambassadors are accredited to more countries than the one they reside in.  i.e., The Israeli ambassador to the US is usually also accredited to Canada.

2.  They have a responsibility to network widely and effectively in the country of their accreditation.  They seek to form relationships of cordial communication with government, media, academic, etc. people in their country of accreditation.  Some are better at this than others.  Kislyak is reputed to be quite good at this task.

3.   Based on networking, official visits and on the ground conversations ambassadors (and their staffs) report by cable, internet or whatever the results of their conversations and observations.  This is a normal function of an embassy, including all US embassies.

4.  Ambassadors administer their diplomatic missions and any subordinated consulates, trade missions, etc. 

5. Ambassadors organize and attend various ceremonial occasions;  national days, awards, etc. 





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43 Responses to What ambassadors do …

  1. The Beaver says:

    Sadly the Borgists/media/conspiracy theorists can’t see the forest for the trees.Most countries nominate career diplomats ( who may have been trained and coached through their Foreign office /affairs department depending how you qualify them) or politicians on a hiatus ( couldn’t get re-elected) as Ambassadors in the major capitals and this is for good reasons.
    However, seems that some ambassadors representing the US in key NATO and G20 capitals buy their nomination via election campaign donations. Hence this misunderstanding wrt the functions ans responsibilities of an Ambassador and/or a chargé d’Affaires.
    Not being disrespectful to our host ( for giving the appearance of bashing the US), the media and some on the Hill are so used to having the CIA at the diplomatic missions and USAID doing the dirty work that they can’t comprehend the relations building done by “non’friendly’ countries.
    We have experienced this also in Ottawa under PM Harper – he saw the boogeymen within the Iran Embassy and some Muslim/African countries

  2. plantman says:

    It seems to me that the Borgists want to remove the country’s chief law enforcement officer so they can appoint an “independent counsel” that will rummage thru Trump’s laundry generating suspicion and making it look like he is the prime suspect in a murder investigation.
    Haven’t we seen this movie before?
    This isn’t about “uncovering the truth”. It’s a character assassination campaign designed to overturn the results of the election.

  3. IMO almost all foreign entities including nation-states have on permanent retainers lobbyists, either registered under FARA or not. The Trump effort to ban all federal officials for life after leaving the federal roles will fail.
    These lobbyists of course do not have diplomatic status or immunity from U.S. laws.
    DoJ and the AG govern FARA (Foreign Agents Registration Act)!

  4. turcopolier says:

    Disrespect to moi? What are you talking about? You are Canadian as I recall. I have met a few Canadian ambassadors and they never seemed to me to be of great importance in the countries to which they were accredited. Canadian military attachés were often very good in my experience both as USDEFATT twice and head of the world-wide US military attaché system. In a US embassy there may be or may not be a CIA station labeled as something else. But it is a very rare thing when a CIA Station Chief manages to wrest control of the embassy from an ambassador whether career or political. egos are too large for that. I don’t know what you mean by “dirty work.” CIA in almost all countries is primarily engaged in liaison with the host country intelligence and police services. If here is a Military attaché in the embassy the main internal obsession of the CIA Station is finding a way to screw the military attaché. Neither the CIA Chief nor the military attaché are subordinates of the ambassador but they are required under the Country Team concept to keep the ambassador informed in detail of what they are doing. I don’t know how CIA rates its people but the military attaché is rated by the Director of DIA with a letter input from the ambassador if he wishes to send one in. There are a few rare cases in which the military attaché is also head of thhe US Training and advisory group in the country. In those cases the theater commander rates the military attaché. BTW Chrystia (?) Freeland your FM is a bosom buddy of both Dr. Farkas and Victoria Nuland. pl

  5. notlurking says:

    Any odds out there that Kislyak may all of a sudden drop dead……..

  6. dsrcwt says:

    Colonel, I don’t know if you’ve seen this about Ms. Freeland’s family history:
    Justin must be so proud.

  7. Clonal Antibody says:

    YOu might find this interesting – Democrat Claire McCaskill Caught Lying About Meeting With Russian Ambassador

    he latest example of lying while sucking at technology comes to us from Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), who tried her best to pile on the Russophobic Jeff Sessions witch hunt by emphatically tweeting about how she’s never had a call or meeting with the Russians. Ever. Unfortunately for Claire, she forgot about the two times she not only did that, but tweeted about it!

  8. Kooshy says:

    Colonel what’s your openion in regard to sending campaign donors as US representatives/ ambassadors. IMO it’s not professional doing that, not sending an exprinced carier deplomat, after all, IMO they should represent and protect the intrests of the country they represent and not the president.

  9. TV says:

    I watched Sessions on TV yesterday.
    Once again, living proof that being able to sit through 3 years of boring law classes makes one a lawyer.
    Sessions created this mess by stepping on his own dick – a habit that seems to be quite common among Trump appointees and sycophants.

  10. kao_hsien_chih says:

    One thing that ambassadors shouldn’t be doing is to agitate publicly among the opponents of the host country’s administration and rile them up against the government–which McFaul did rather often, if I recall correctly, when he was the ambassador to Russia. If any ambassador pulled off the kind of stunt that likes of McFaul did in Russia (and presumably elsewhere) in United States, I wonder what the reaction might be.

  11. Eric Newhill says:

    Agreed. Lefty chatter is all about how an independent counsel will be an Obama appointee and how he will dig up enough dirt on Trump that Trump can be impeached. Some are going so far as to say that Trump is a traitor allied with Russia.
    They don’t care about the facts or about what ambassadors do or any of that; only that Trump be removed from power. Sessions should have never recused himself under these circumstances, though I agree that it was, technically, the right thing to do because he was involved in Trump’s campaign.
    Trump had better take out some Rep. rats, like McCain, right away or he might just find himself in hot water. His enemies will make mountains out of mole hills

  12. dmr says:

    “The Israeli ambassador is accredited to Canada” ? Really? You’re sure about this, Col. Lang? In fact there’s an embassy and an ambassador in Ottawa operating independently of his counterpart in the USA, and has been for umpteen years. We’re hardly a banana republic, nor is Israel so short-staffed in diplomatic personnel as to require their man in Washington to wear two hats.

  13. Valissa says:

    Claire McCaskill says she never met with Russian ambassador, past tweets say otherwise http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2017/mar/02/claire-mccaskill/claire-mccaskill-says-she-never-met-russian-ambass/
    Democrat Claire McCaskill Caught Lying About Meeting With Russian Ambassador http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-03-02/democrat-claire-mccaskill-caught-lying-about-meeting-russian-ambassador
    [Sean Davis tweet] NYT repeated as truth Claire McCaskill’s lie that she never met or spoke to Russia’s ambassador, then stealth deleted it w/o any note.
    McCaskill’s stupidity not as bad as the New York Times altering history to make her look truthful.

  14. Kooshy says:

    Would that make you worried on safety of our diplomats in Russia and elsewhere?

  15. Cortes says:

    Even in the direst of straits, Ambassadors have been known to have a sense of humour:

  16. Linda says:

    I guess I don’t see anything new in most ambassadors being career foreign service and the rest being political appointees. And, yes, that is often because they have given all sorts of money to the election campaign. All of the presidents that I remember have operated this way.

  17. Stumpy says:

    Notably, our SOS has been awarded the Russian Order of Friendship. The US, also, awards Saudi prince with the George Tenet award. The ISS is manned by Russian Cosmonauts who graciously fly our Astronauts up and back.
    The persecution of Russian “sympathizers” by the opposition media grows more schizophrenic with each passing day.
    Speaking of US diplomacy, McDonald’s has over 600 restaurants in Russia.

  18. robt willmann says:

    Who “met” the Russian ambassador to the U.S. is now quite a spectacle. A photo of senator Charles Schumer and Putin turns up. Then, the Democratic leader in the House, Nancy Pelosi, had to declare a version of, “what I really meant to say was”, after a photo appeared of her across the table from Dmitry Medvedev, Sergei Lavrov, and the jolly Kislyak–
    Wanting to get into the act, Democratic senator Claire McCaskill (Missouri) also apparently trapped herself–
    With the distraction of all this jabbering and babbling about meeting an ambassador … Beware the Ides of March.
    On 15 March 2017, the “temporary” extension of the federal public debt limit ends, as was set up in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, Public Law 114-74, signed by Obama on 2 November 2015, which let the “representatives” of the people kick the can down the road until after the 2016 elections–
    Sections 901 and 902–
    “Title IX—Temporary Extension of Public Debt Limit
    Sec. 901. Temporary Extension of Public Debt Limit.
    (a) In General.—Section 3101(b) of title 31, United States Code, shall not apply for the period beginning on the date of the enactment of this Act and ending on March 15, 2017.
    (b) Special Rule Relating To Obligations Issued During Extension Period.—Effective March 16, 2017, the limitation in effect under section 3101(b) of title 31, United States Code, shall be increased to the extent that—
    (1) the face amount of obligations issued under chapter 31 of such title and the face amount of obligations whose principal and interest are guaranteed by the United States Government (except guaranteed obligations held by the Secretary of the Treasury) outstanding on March 16, 2017, exceeds
    (2) the face amount of such obligations outstanding on the date of the enactment of this Act.
    Sec. 902. Restoring Congressional Authority Over The National Debt.
    (a) Extension Limited To Necessary Obligations.—An obligation shall not be taken into account under section 901(b)(1) unless the issuance of such obligation was necessary to fund a commitment incurred pursuant to law by the Federal Government that required payment before March 16, 2017.
    (b) Prohibition On Creation Of Cash Reserve During Extension Period.—The Secretary of the Treasury shall not issue obligations during the period specified in section 901(a) for the purpose of increasing the cash balance above normal operating balances in anticipation of the expiration of such period.”
    Title 31, United States Code, section 3101(b), that “shall not apply” until 15 March, is here, under the amusing caption, “Public debt limit”–
    David Stockman, former budget director during the first Ronald Reagan administration, gives an opinion here–

  19. Pat,
    I’m sort of conflicted on this. I’m definitely not a Russophobe (Romney’s Coldwar-esque rhetoric was a big part of why I didn’t vote for him in spite of being Mormon), and I agree that a lot of the Borg hates Trump for not being sufficiently Russophobic like they are. But on the other hand, I do wonder about a lot of this. It’s not that meeting with a diplomat is wrong, because it’s not. But the fact that so many of Trump’s aides have both met with Russian representatives *and* tried to hide it that makes me wonder what’s up. Why try to hide something that’s perfectly legal? There’s a chance that all of them independently accidentally forgot communicating with the Russians during the campaign, but that seems more and more unlikely the more cases we see.
    I don’t want a return to the US-Russian relations we had under Obama with Clinton at the State Department. But I also am a bit concerned when people are acting like they have something they need to cover up. Plus, while I would like to see good relations with Russia, I’d like to keep them short of blowing Putin big wet sloppy kisses. He’s an authoritarian who does a lot that isn’t up to the standards I’d like to hold the US to. There ought to be some more sane middle ground than the extremes staked out by Trump on one hand and the Clinton on the other hand.
    That’s my $0.02,

  20. Fred says:

    “Freeland’s maternal grandfather….”
    So children inherit the sins of grandfathers now? Perpetual guilt is a trip the left has been pushing for some time now.

  21. LeaNder says:

    Come on, this is ridiculous. But which side do you have in mind?
    One has to wonder if the heightened activities by the Obama admin at the 12th hour were meant to set up a trap.
    Should I start to consider, if I listen to the US ambassador over here no matter at what event, even in a political talk show, I may already be in danger of becoming a victim of PSYOP? What do you think? No danger, as long as I do not chat with him shortly after in private?
    Admittedly I feel quite a bit of sympathy with the “diatribe” of Maria Zakharova:
    Besides, what does Ms Farkas mean by starting “by establishing a baseline of facts”? She gives the impression that all that needs to be known is already…
    Judging from the comments rated to the top on the NYT b/Bernhard linked to yesterday “the huge outside political pressure” is already in place.

  22. turcopolier says:

    It is not true that where there is smoke there will be fire. It is a fine art in Washington to create mistrust by spreading falsehoods. pl

  23. turcopolier says:

    OK. I’ll take your word for it. The Israeli DEFATT in DC used to also be accredited in Ottawa. Not a “banana republic?” How about a maple syrup republic? pl

  24. LeaNder says:

    I am basically with you. But I have also mixed feelings about reducing Putin to purely an authoritarian. …
    More recently some “specialist” on matters over here, has shifted the argument slightly:
    No there would probably be no definitive IT proof about Russian interference, precisely, because if the Russians were behind the DNC hack/leaks they wouldn’t leave traces.
    Now where does that argument leave us?

  25. LondonBob says:

    From afar it feels like this is really beginning to backfire for the Democrats. They could be in real trouble. Trump’s recent tweets I like, mocking and turning attention where it should be, on Obama’s actions.
    Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary, is due to visit Russia, five years since the last official visit. Bojo has never been entirely in line with the official Borg position on Russia.

  26. Ghostship says:

    The problem with all this kerfuffle about the Russians is that real threats to society are being ignored. For example, I’d not heard of the “night zombie smartphones took down 911”. It illustrates how vulnerable digital societies are to attacks on the systems that support that society, and how new developments open up new avenues of attack on a regular basis. In this case it was down to stupidity but a hostile organization without a “return address” could have done far more harm. Instead of wasting time placating Democrats who believe the election was lost because of outside intervention rather than the quality of their candidate, the security services such as the FBI, NSA, and DHS should be hunting down such opportunities for hostile organizations and closing them down, which might be a better use of the $55 odd billion they receive a year.
    The article is behind WSJ’s paywall so unless you’re paying Rupert Murdoch some money, you need to go via facebook and click through:

  27. Fred says:

    robt willmann,
    Do you remember what a great and presidential speech Trump gave before a joint session of the House and Senate. Yeah, that’s why this is now the news. How about the latest and greatest on the bomb threats against Jewish groups:
    Maybe this is a new kind of “black Russian” and not just another oops, nothing to see here story.

  28. Babak Makkinejad says:

    And when so many Democrats have spent so much time with Israeli Labor Party chums is of no consequence?
    That a Jew comes from Australia, becomes a US Citizen, joins US Government under a Democratic Administration and then proceeds to help formulate US policy in regards to the Middle East is just an adult version of a Horatio Alger story of an immigrant making it good in US?
    “Why hide something…?” you ask.
    That is innuendo, trying to rise doubt, spread fear, and uncertainty.

  29. robt willmann says:

    This might be interesting, as today, 4 March, Trump sends messages out over a version of the teletype that Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower before the election–
    How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!
    View details
    Donald J. Trump
    I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!
    View details
    Donald J. Trump
    Is it legal for a sitting President to be `wire tapping’ a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!
    View details
    Donald J. Trump
    Just out: The same Russian Ambassador that met Jeff Sessions visited the Obama White House 22 times, and 4 times last year alone.
    View details
    Donald J. Trump
    Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my `wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!
    View details”

  30. dsrcwt says:

    No, I think the gist of the article is that the way Freeland characterized her parents as innocent refugees from Stalin and Hitler, when in fact her grandfather appears to have enthusiastically supported the Nazis, implies a guilty conscience. That is, she realizes that a lot of her anti-Russian attitudes are knee-jerk reactions to family stories. Hatred in her mother’s milk.

  31. LeaNder says:

    glad you are back. Missed you.

  32. Dr.Puck says:

    How does it work? New President comes, in appoints the top people, inherits Comey, and then needs to know what these agencies were up to in December and November–does he order the heads to deliver the goods?
    If Obama ordered a wire tap, is there a paper trail?
    Or, is this early morning misdirection?

  33. turcopolier says:

    Dr.Puck. There will be a paper trail. Career people always keep memoranda of what is happening so that when the FBI knocks on their door they can name the perpetrators above them. IMO there is a high likelihood that a number of people who have been named to me will go to prison for what amounts to unauthorized disclosure of highly classified information in a seditious conspiracy. If they do not then IMO it is likely that the 45th president of the United States will be overthrown in what amounts to a treasonous conspiracy. I was not a Candidate Trump supporter, but he is the constitutionally elected president of the United States and nothing else matters. BTW all you seditious trolls should stop writing to SST. I just delete your crap and ban you. pl

  34. dmr says:

    I am most certainly no internet troll, Col. Lang, and trust you will accept my aekhtidhar for any uncalled-for discourtesy attaching to my reply. Up here in the polar north of the continent we are inclined as you must know to be neurotic about our relationship to the great republic to the south, sometimes imagining patronage where none was intended – the customary ex-colonial carry-over. My respects to you at any rate and all good wishes to SST

  35. turcopolier says:

    I like Canada. I am a Canadian citizen and my ancestors both francophone and Anglophone created the country but you really should get over this post-colonial nonsense. You sound like Porfirio Diaz. pl

  36. Cortes says:

    Well said, sir.
    The notion that professional people are willing to dumbly/blindly execute the instructions of politically appointed parachuted in superiors without written commands is just laughable. The noise about X, Y and Z from the neocons is the sound of fear of sins being opened to scrutiny.

  37. kao_hsien_chih says:

    Thanks! Never been really “away,” just got sick of politics (and had a few distracting “real life” issues that needed to take higher priority). Glad to have had people who missed me! 😉

  38. dmr says:

    And I like the United States. I go there often. And without wishing to exacerbate what has been thus far a good-natured tit-for-tat, let me say that during recent visits down south nothing has been more striking, at any rate to this visitor, than the alarming rise in the national context and in everyday life of xenophobia and racism. There are of course many and complex reasons why this should be so nowadays and only a fool would claim that they have exclusively to do with the election of the man who is, as you say, must ultimately be seen and and accepted as the legitimately elected leader of his country. But these untoward phenomena are not entirely unrelated to his character, speech and policies. In that sense, they are an effect of it if only an effect at more than one remove. Your comment, Col. Lang, about “post-colonial nonsense” of my comment is to the point. But as to the substance of my (alas) ill-phrased remark about Trump, surely you can understand how and why to many non-American eyes the man, constitutionally elected or not, represents a development without precedent in the life of the republic and possibly a danger to it too.

  39. turcopolier says:

    ” … surely you can understand how and why to many non-American eyes the man, constitutionally elected or not, represents a development without precedent in the life of the republic and possibly a danger to it too.” No. I can’t understand that except as a reflection of the apparently universal fear among utopian “liberals” that their vision of a brave new world surely to be realized has hit a snag. I put “liberal” in quotes above because so many supposed liberals are not liberal at all and wish to control thought to reach their social goals. pl

  40. Valissa says:

    “surely you can understand how and why to many non-American eyes the man, constitutionally elected or not, represents a development without precedent in the life of the republic and possibly a danger to it too.”
    Clearly the anti-Trump propaganda has been very effective. I have heard that the European newspapers are even more anti-Trump than in the US (if that’s possible /snark). Personally I am always highly suspicious when the news attempts to gin up fear and loathing in a certain direction. I don’t like being herded. I think most people don’t notice they’re being herded.
    It appears that you do not understand the Trump phenomenon. Your rational mind probably could, with some effort… but it might probably upend your worldview.
    FYI, I did not vote for either Trump or Hillary, but of the two of them I am glad that he won. Anyone who has so much of the establishment against them has to be doing something right. Other people’s fear and illusions aside, I see no reason to be afraid of Trump’s presidency. Despite the various narratives spun by the media, there is much constancy between administrations. The study of history can be very illuminating… and calming.
    Speaking of history… ironically it was during the Obama administration that racism started to be in the headlines more frequently. This despite many studies showing the long term decline of racist attitudes in the US. Now racism is everywhere in the news. It used to be a very effective cudgel, but I think that is less true than it used to be. IMO, the liberal focus on political correctness has stirred a backlash.
    “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” Mark Twain

  41. dmr says:

    SST is your website, Col. Lang; you alone must have the last word. But a utopian liberal who seeks to control the thought of others in a bid to attain social goals – that I certainly am not. Just a person of (I hope!) humane instincts who tries, not always with success,to remain charitably disposed towards his fellow man.

  42. turcopolier says:

    you are misquoting me, a favorite tactic. It is the progressive MOVEMENT that is profoundly un-liberal. Look at the anti-free speech riots at Berkeley and Middlebury. I have no idea what you are personally, but Canada is hardly an example of a country in which all kinds of opinion can be freely stated. I have heard Canadian broadcasters tell interviewees that what they were saying was unacceptable hurtful speech. pl

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