Monday, July 25, 2011

Another Ambassador?

On a positive note, the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a bipartisan amendment sponsored by Engel and Mack that calls on the State Department to open embassies in five small Caribbean countries — Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Vincent and the Grenadines — where the United States has no diplomatic missions.
Under this amendment, five of the more than 800 U.S. diplomats currently serving in Afghanistan and Iraq would open one-person missions in these countries as they are phased out from their current posts in coming years, at no cost to taxpayers. Cuba and Venezuela already have embassies in these small Caribbean nations.
My opinion: The Republican-controlled House Foreign Affairs Committee, presided over by Rep. Ileana Ros Lehtinen, R-Miami, lost its marbles by calling for cutting U.S. funds to the OAS.
The OAS is one of the few places where Washington can sit together with most countries in the region, friends and foes alike. At a time when China and the European Union are playing a growing role in the region — the Europeans in recent years created the Ibero-American Community of Nations in a little-disguised move to compete with the OAS — withdrawing from the OAS doesn’t make any sense.
Granted, the OAS is a monument to diplomatic frivolity and political theater, but it’s a much-needed forum for the smallest countries in the region, and Washington needs it more than some of its foes.

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