7th APRIL 2015 - Vol.XXXVIII No.018

The arrogance of a 'diplomat'

Let's just call it 'interesting' that an apparently large number of Bahraini citizens want the President of the United States, a veritable ally, to instantly remove from their soil, the United States Ambassador to Bahrain.

To say it is an 'unusual measure' is to use language in its full quaintness.

Ambassadors are highly regarded 'go-betweens' for their own country and their host country, carrying views from the highest levels, back and forth, and adding the silk of interpretation and explanation, with candour and clarity.

Acuity and sensibility are qualities which diplomats should have in abundance and inversely brashness and aggressiveness are seldom desired, or admired.

And yet, this American Ambassador has managed to get himself 'off-side' with many prominent Bahrainis, indeed a whole parliament of owls (which, linguistically, is the manner in which a collection of parliamentarians is described) has found the fellow to be so objectionable that they didn't want to accept his credentials in the first place!

If the corridor conversations are as alleged, he is seen officially 'under sufferance', for the work and dialogue with a major ally must politely go on, but with apparently little warmth.

As often with indelicacies, a respect for the office rather than the temporary officeholder.

And now others want him gone ... like yesterday!

As a petitioning letter states, "he has lost the confidence of the people of Bahrain", to act as a trustworthy go-between and as such is judged to be doing damage to the (otherwise) warm diplomatic ties that happily exist between the two countries.

According to reports, the Ambassador has courted the opposition groups - a perfectly acceptable diplomatic foray, but in a manner seen as "prejudicial and unfair".

And when you ask most people "why," they scratch their heads.

Without explanation to the contrary, it seems that no real US interests are served by supporting organisations that tacitly support the greater Islamisation of Bahrain.

Maybe it is just the US government's long record of "poor tipping" of historical inevitabilities; they didn't support the anti-apartheid ANC until almost up to the time Nelson Mandela left Robben Island.

There are many more.

But the point is that the Ambassador himself 'has become the story', in an adverse way, and that seldom augurs well for bilateral relations.

Oh, it won't happen of course and President Obama's Washington scribe will send a letter in reply, 'strongly supporting the Ambassador', because that is the way democracy works.

Not merely muscled aside by the robustness of opinions and the numbers of petitioners.

But watch over time, when the desert dust dies down, the Ambassador may be on his trike, like the last one, not to Pyongyang, for that is far too important, but perhaps Riga, Apia or Maseru.

Quiet diplomacy works well.

But a well crafted letter, and the Embassy's inability to comment because they didn't know about it, will ring bells.

A letter moreover, which is allegedly known to many, and presumably sanctioned at high levels! These matters are not taken lightly. And in Washington some analyst is probably asking, "Are these guys over there plugged in - or what?"

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