An ambassador is the highest-ranking representative to a specific nation or international organization abroad. An effective ambassador has to be a strong leader—a good manager, a resilient negotiator, and a respected representative of the United States. An ambassador to a foreign nation is to remain completely neutral of the domestic politics in the countries in which they serve.
Germany is the most populous nation in the European Union and has at its head Chancellor Angela Merkel, an astute and effective leader. Trump’s first ambassador to Germany was Richard Grenell, about whom I’ve written before. Grenell got off on the wrong foot almost from the moment his feet first touched German soil and he added insult to injury for as long as he remained.
On June 1st, Grenell formally resigned from his post, although since February he had devoted most of his time to being the acting Director of National Intelligence and largely neglected his duties as ambassador, likely much to the relief of Chancellor Merkel and others. Now, Donald Trump has nominated yet another poor choice to the position of Ambassador to Germany, Retired Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor.
Let me tell you just a bit about Macgregor. He is a bigot and a xenophobe. He is a frequent contributor and commentator for both Fox ‘News’ and RT, a Russian state-controlled international television network, where he freely expresses his views.
He often demonized immigrants and refugees. He warned Mexican cartels were “driving millions of Mexicans with no education, no skills and the wrong culture into the United States, placing them essentially as wards of the American people.” He repeatedly advocated to institute martial law at the US-Mexico border and “shoot people” if necessary.
He has claimed that Muslim migrants were coming to Europe “with the goal of eventually turning Europe into an Islamic state.” He criticized Germany for giving “millions of unwanted Muslim invaders” welfare benefits rather than providing more funding for its armed services.
Macgregor’s nomination is already seeing opposition in the Senate, however. Senate Foreign Relations Ranking Member Bob Menendez, whose committee oversees Macgregor’s nomination, has said that Macgregor’s comments disqualify him from any government office and called on his colleagues to reject Macgregor.
“Colonel MacGregor’s public statements over the years on immigration, Muslims, and our relationship with Germany should disqualify him for any government office, much less to represent the United States as an ambassador. Even if his views reflect those of President Trump, it is incumbent on the entire Senate, including Senate Republicans, to reject this nominee.”
I would like to hope that the Senate doesn’t merely rubber-stamp this one as they have done so many others, but with Mitch McConnell calling the shots, it is likely what will happen.
Trump himself has been critical of Angela Merkel and more than a few times has bullied and berated Chancellor Merkel in phone calls, even going so far as to call her stupid. One must ask, when we consider Trump’s attitude toward Merkel, and his two choices for ambassadors to Germany, what his goal is? We expect our ambassadors to be respectful toward the leaders and citizens of their host nation, but Grenell never was, and from all indications, Macgregor will not be, either. Since taking office in January 2017, Trump has shredded long-established relationships with our allies, while cozying up to autocrats such as Putin, Bolsonaro, Erdoğan, Mohammad Bin Salman, and even Rodrigo Duterte. What, exactly, is the game he is playing? For certainly it is a game … Trump is a game-player, never a straight-forward and honest ‘man’.
Meanwhile, Trump is planning to withdraw nearly 12,000 troops from bases in Germany, a move that is opposed by both republicans and democrats, as well as former military officials, who say the move will benefit Russia. I’ve long said that the reason Putin was so eager to help Trump win the 2016 election is he saw in Trump an ignorant ‘man’ who would be easily manipulated … a puppet, so to speak, to do his bidding. Nothing I have seen since has disabused me of that notion.
Frankly, if I were Chancellor Merkel I would be sorely tempted to tell Trump to keep his ambassador on his own side of the Atlantic and I would bring my own ambassador home, let Trump put that one in his pipe and smoke it for a time. Diplomatic relations require a number of things in order to work, with mutual respect at the top of the list. Donald Trump respects nobody, and he makes that point with every decision he makes, with every sentence he utters. In less than four years, he has taken us from a respected friend and ally to a pariah among most every nation. It is almost as if his goal is to make the U.S. the most hated nation in the western world. His “America First” policy could very well be the undoing of decades of diplomatic efforts.