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January 30, 2008

What Part Of Not Authorized Did Khalilzad Not Understand?

The State Department reacted angrily to the appearance of UN Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad on a panel at the Davos Economic Forum, along with two members of the Iranian government. The US restricts diplomatic contacts with Iran and requires prior approval for any such interaction. Apparently, Khalilzad took it upon himself to make that decision:

An appearance by America's U.N. ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, on a World Economic Forum discussion panel — alongside two Iranian officials, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, and a close aide to President Ahmadinejad, Samare Hashemi — was unauthorized by the State Department and angered Secretary of State Rice, Washington sources said yesterday.

The panel, titled "Understanding Iran's Foreign Policy," took place in Davos, Switzerland, and dealt mostly with Iran's nuclear policy, just as Security Council diplomats — including America's U.N. mission headed by Mr. Khalilzad — began to forge a new resolution that would impose new punitive measures on Iran for its refusal to suspend its uranium enrichment program, as demanded by the council. ...

The Bush administration policy, however, calls on all American officials to seek an authorization from the State Department before conducting dialogue with Iranian officials. The only person exempted from that restriction is the American ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, who can discuss Iraq-related issues with Iranian officials on a regular basis, according to a State Department official in Washington who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Mr. Khalilzad's participation on the Davos panel was "not authorized," the official told The New York Sun yesterday, after a videotaping of the event was posted on the Web site YouTube and made the rounds among diplomats at the United Nations.

According to Power Line, Khalilzad not only defied American policy, but let slide an opening comment that insulted his predecessor, John Bolton. The moderator noted in his effusive introduction of Khalilzad that among his outstanding qualities was "the further, really formidable advantage of having a name that is not John Bolton." Regardless of whether Khalilzad had prior authorization, allowing the insult to Bolton to stand unchallenged represents an insult to the United States and a lack of testicular fortitude on the part of his replacement.

Some have offered Khalilzad as a Secretary of State in a future Republican administration. I'd say this scotches that as a possibility. If he can't follow the rules and represent the foreign policy of the US, then he doesn't deserve the appointment, and may not deserve the one he has now.

The video itself can be seen here:

I find it interesting that the Davos Economic Summit now makes its panel discussions public via YouTube. Three years ago, when Eason Jordan accused the US military of having a policy of assassinating journalists in war zones, Davos couldn't be bothered to publish the video or audio of the actual remarks of the then-CNN vice president. I guess they find it easier to publish insults towards the American government.


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