First, Jon Stewart had a segment earlier in the month (I missed it at the time) on the topic of the current Administration’s appointments of ambassadors. (“Is there a rule ambassadors can’t have set foot in the countries they are going to ambassador?” [sic]) He covers Sen. Baucus’s mission to China, among other items.
Jay Ulfelder at Dart-Throwing Chimp has a post on the resignation of U.S. ambassador to Russia Mike McFaul (a story that Stewart mentions at the end of his segment). Ulfelder:
McFaul had never served as a diplomat before taking this post, and his two years on the job have drawn polarized reviews. Many observers hold McFaul at least partially responsible for the slump in U.S.-Russian relations, and some of those critics point to his inexperience in diplomacy as one cause of that slump. Others praise McFaul for his dogged and open pursuit of “dual-track” diplomacy, publicly engaging with Russian activists and the wider public in person and through social media while also engaging in more traditional relations with the Russian government those activists are trying to transform or topple.
I think there’s truth in both views, but I agree with James Carden (here) that the fault for McFaul’s rocky tenure lies primarily with the people who decided to appoint him to the post. I see Ambassador McFaul as a tragic figure—a man who meant to do good and tried his level best but whose accumulated professional baggage made it almost impossible for him to succeed in the job of a lifetime.
(It would be nice if Mr. Ulfelder quoted or linked to some of these “Many oberservers” or “others,” but never mind; when I searched for news stories on McFaul, papers and news sites tended to cite anonymous “experts” to support whatever analytical point they were making about McFaul or the Ruskies.)