The obstruction of the United States Congress by the Republican opposition has again hit the foreign action of the world’s leading power, this time in the war between Hamas and Israel. Washington was neither ambassador to Israel, the United Arab Emirates, nor assistant in the Middle East, head of counterterrorism at the Department of State, nor director of USAID, the equivalent of the Spanish Development Cooperation Agency (Aecid).
Likewise, the promotion of more than 300 senior officers of the Armed Forces has been paralyzed by the Republican Party, which recently agreed, on an unusual basis, to approve the appointment of the chief of the general staff—the equivalent of the Spanish Jemad—Charles Brown and the commander of the Marine Corps, Eric Smith.
The paralysis reflects the impact of foreign policy on the political confrontation in Washington and, above all, the blocking position of the Republican minority, protected by the arcane rules of the Senate that, literally, allow a senator to block any teaching or whatever legislative initiative. The rules of the Senate, which in many ways can be seen to function like a Medieval Court or, even worse, a version of the House of Lords, even allow lawmakers to ignore appointments.
The cascade of blockades reached such an extreme that the government of Biden, completely demoralized, did not even bother to formally propose the ratification of Jack Lew as a candidate for ambassador to Jerusalem when his predecessor, Thomas Nides, who was also appointed by Biden, left the office. Since then, the embassy’s number two, Stephanie Hallett, has held the position on an interim basis.
This is not a dramatic situation; far from it, given the deer Ambassador positions are less expensive than those auctioned off by major donors to presidential campaigns, so career diplomats often have a better understanding of the State Department bureaucracy than ambassadors. In addition, the communications between the governments are now very direct—Joe Biden and Benjamin Netanyahu speak daily, even if they do not see each other—which allows the situation to be saved.
But those solutions are, at best, patches. Nothing beats the presence on the ground at the highest level, and this is especially true for the United States, a country that gives absolute priority to the situation of its citizens abroad, where the most important thing today is the search for approximately 20 missing nationals and 14 kidnapped by Hamas.
The most surprising case in recent times is that of Ukraine. from Donald Trump That country’s ambassador, Marie Yovanovich, was expelled after a smear campaign because of her refusal to allow the activities of Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, in that country to be used for political purposes. Kiev was left without a diplomatic representative at the highest level for three years. I mean, when Russia attacked Ukraine, the US did not have an ambassador in the country.
However, ambassadors do not only increase the relevance of the institution. They can also provide political and institutional contacts—in the country of origin and in the country of residence—that a career civil servant lacks. That is the case of Lew, who became the Director of Operations of Citigroup, the fourth largest bank in the US by assets, and, above all, Secretary of the Treasury in the second term of Barack Obama. Nides is the CEO of Wall Street giant Morgan Stanley and holds senior positions in the Obama administration.
The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the blockades have nothing to do with the fairness or suitability of the candidates for the positions. In 2021, Cruz blocked the confirmation of 60 ambassadors for months to demand changes in US policy toward Russia that he himself did not even support. Republican Party. Currently, Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville has refused to approve the promotion of hundreds of Armed Forces officers over the Pentagon’s policy of facilitating abortion for soldiers at bases located in states where the practice is practiced
The internal turmoil in the United States, therefore, seems to continue to block the country’s reaction, despite the consensus between Democrats and Republicans to protect Americans in the area and give Israel all the support it needs.