If you thought that being a former ambassador would teach you to diplomatically address a group of students with differing political views from your own, think again.
Former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, W. Robert Pearson, who served in that post from September 2000 until July 2003, was invited to speak on Tuesday at the University of Virginia School of Law. The event, titled “American Diplomacy Under the Trump Administration” and hosted by the Student Legal Forum, was attended by a modest number of students hoping to hear intelligent remarks regarding the shift in the current administration’s international relations.
No such luck.
Pearson instead chose to hypocritically rail against the Trump administration and its supporters for accusations more commonly leveled at the Left. In describing the dangers within democracy, Pearson warned of two things. The first was the danger of forces trying “to use democracy to destroy democracy with a battle of arms.” He then proceeded to compare “current history” to “Weimar Germany” and “Turkey.” He followed with the second danger:
…We will use populism, the rule of the crowd, the rule of the MOB, to be honest with you, to destroy the institutions that democracy is built on. … And when this is done, and you all know this by just taking a quick look at it, it’s always aimed at a minority. ALWAYS aimed at some minority. It’s an ethnic minority; it’s a religious minority; it’s a press minority.
Of course, the mob mentality has been called for much more frequently by the leadership of the Left (e.g., Maxine Waters and Hillary Clinton) than the Right these past few months, but Pearson has kindly ignored that fact in order to demean the Trump administration at all costs. And of course, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh found no protection in belonging to his “majority” religion, ethnicity, and gender when the Left came to destroy him. As for the press “minority,” they have simply been called on the carpet for the extreme and increasingly obvious left-leaning bias of many journalists who try to pass off their partisan opinion as objective reporting after years of taking for granted that they could do so without objection.
Pearson then discussed Israel, specifically:
There is no compelling reason in the Middle East for Israel to make peace. There is no border state around Israel that has the power to really directly threaten the national security of Israel. There’s a peace treaty with Egypt, there’s a treaty of accommodation with Jordan, Syria is a basket case and the only threat that Israel faces really, are the ones that have to do with the long-term peace settlement and of course Iran and its proxies in the region. So, we’ve spent years, so-called, working on a peace agreement. Nobody’s ever seen it. And nobody’s ever supported it. So it’s again supposed to come out soon! This is not the way you do diplomacy.
What did this have to do with anything and what policies did Pearson want to enact based on this information? A law student asked the same question, to which Pearson responded:
In contrast to past administrations, this administration has decided to cut off all funding to Palestinians. So, what’s the consequence of that? It encourages Hamas. It encourages Iran. That undermines the ability of you to make a deal with the people and you like to separate from those players in order to make a deal and to force them into a peace agreement. And that seems to be the policy here, to do that. Why would the Palestinians ever agree to be forced into a peace agreement when their funding has been cut off?
Pearson did not address the concern that American aid would be funneled directly into supporting Hamas, a terrorist organization in control of Gaza and the West Bank. Nor did he mention that the White House will be hosting an international conference in March regarding delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza. Nor did he address the criticism that Palestinians committed terrorism and aggression throughout the time that the U.S. was funding them. The irony is that Pearson also spoke about North Korea and chastised Trump for meeting with Kim Jong Un without significant concessions beforehand. Apparently, Trump can’t win. He’s wrong for not requiring Kim Jong Un to show good faith before meeting with him, and he’s also wrong for requiring that Hamas stop attacking Israeli civilians before giving their government aid. This inconsistent critique is more informative about Pearson’s biases than it is about effective diplomacy.
So what was Pearson’s ideal vision of diplomatic relations? The Iran nuclear deal. He admired how many countries were involved and how cooperative they were in getting it signed. Substantive analysis or criticisms of the deal went unmentioned. If that’s the vision Pearson has for the future of American international relations, it’s probably a good thing he’s a former ambassador.
Good job, sir. You managed to alienate everyone on the other side of the aisle with your … diplomacy.