Richard Grenell is yet another slap in the face by Trump to our European allies, particularly Germany and its Chancellor Angela Merkel. Before I delve into his most recent faux pas, let me tell you a bit about Mr. Grenell.
First, he was nominated to be the U.S. Ambassador to Germany by Donald Trump in October 2017, although he was not confirmed by the Senate until late April 2018. Why, you may ask? Because the democrats in the Senate had concerns over his fitness for the position. Turns out, they were right to be concerned, but I will get to that in just a moment.
Grenell once served as an aide to John Bolton, the recently named national security advisor and a known warmonger famous for his desire to bomb both Iran and North Korea. Grenell is also a contributor to Fox News. As a spokesman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations during the George W. Bush administration, Grenell worked on sanctions and restrictions against Iran in response to Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Since the inauguration of Donald Trump, Grenell has been an outspoken critic of the Iran nuclear deal … you know … the one that Trump reneged on last month.
But all of that aside, the democrats had another good reason for concern where Grenell was concerned: he is a xenophobe … an outspoken critic of women, especially those who hold power in government. As a commentator on Fox, he has mocked Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright and others. During his confirmation hearings, he was asked about his seeming aversion to women in politics. He pulled a Roseanne Barr and said …
“There are times where what was intended to be humorous turned out to be not so humorous.”
Sorry, but not good enough. Remember, if you will, that he was nominated to be the Ambassador to Germany … the most populous nation in the EU, and also a nation who just happens to have a female chancellor. To add insult to injury, Trump has more than once criticized Chancellor Merkel and has made clear his disdain for her. Ultimately Grenell was confirmed by the Senate, sworn in and traveled to Germany to begin his new job.
Now, let’s clarify for just a brief second what, exactly, the job of an ambassador is.
“All ambassadors officially represent the U.S. government on behalf of the president in treaty negotiations, immigration discussions, foreign aid projects and humanitarian aid programs. Ambassadors supervise and lead all foreign service employees in the country where they work. As the chief executive of the U.S. embassy, an ambassador also monitors the activities of all U.S. personnel who work for any federal agency in their jurisdiction. The ambassador and his/her staff also aid Americans traveling in the country and provide security for U.S. citizens during emergencies and natural disasters.”
The starting salary for U.S. ambassadors, by the way, is $126,148, and the maximum is $189,600.
Richard Grenell arrived in Germany to take up his post on May 8th, just under a month ago, and already he has stirred ire and contention on both sides of the pond. So far, he has criticized Germany’s NATO spending, calling it ‘woeful’, and criticized Chancellor Merkel’s immigration policy. But the worst was his interview a few days ago with … of all things … Breitbart! And here is what he said that has stirred the political pot …
“There are a lot of conservatives throughout Europe who have contacted me to say they are feeling there is a resurgence going on. I absolutely want to empower other conservatives throughout Europe, other leaders. I think there is a groundswell of conservative policies that are taking hold because of the failed policies of the left.”
To put it into context, consider if Germany’s ambassador to the United States, Peter Wittig, when he first came to the U.S. in 2014, had said that Barack Obama’s policies were failures and that he was looking forward to helping more republicans win congressional races.
Ambassadors are intended and expected to be completely neutral in the domestic politics of the countries in which they serve. Period. We do not send ambassadors to other nations to choose sides and campaign for candidates or policies. They are there to represent the U.S.
Grenell didn’t stop there, though. Grenell named immigration, tax cuts, and cutting red tape as major conservative issues to focus on as part of a winning strategy. He then went on to say he’s a “big fan” of Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who has sharply criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s immigration policies. Last year, Kurz’s party also formed a coalition with the far-right Freedom Party, which was founded by Nazis.
It almost feels as if Trump has planted a ticking time bomb in Germany.
A German Foreign Ministry spokesperson said yesterday that Grenell would have to “explain what he meant” during his first official visit on Thursday. One German politician, Lars Klingbeil, tweeted to Grenell …
I know you are still quite new at your post, but it is not part of the job description of an ambassador to interfere in the politics of his guest country, Mr @RichardGrenell #thankyou — 6:00 AM – Jun 4, 2018
Another, Omid Nouripour, said Grenell’s comments “give the impression that the new US ambassador still hasn’t adjusted to his new role. At least the Russians make an effort not to be seen to be meddling in other countries’ affair. [sic]”
Trump has already created an atmosphere of distrust among our allies by pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Accords, pulling out of the TPP, reneging on our commitment to the Iran nuclear deal, criticizing our allies, and just last week placing unwarranted tariffs on Canada, Mexico and the EU. He has insulted Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel on more than one occasion. And now the ambassador he sends to Germany has offended at least half the nation. I have to ask … is total mass destruction of planet earth his intent? He loves to take credit for things, especially big things. Does he figure to start WWIII and then take credit for having had the biggest button?