Anti-Semitism Seems No Barrier to Ambassadorial Appointments

Earlier this month, Elizabeth Frawley Bagley was sworn in as the new U.S. ambassador to Brazil. Bagley was nominated a year ago, but her appointment was held up over concerns—voiced by senators from both parties—regarding comments she had made about “the influence of the Jewish lobby,” which she equated with “major money.” When questioned about these and similar declarations during senate hearings, her replies amounted to something less than an apology, as Melissa Langsam Braunstein writes:

For a diplomat, Bagley’s answers were poor. She told Senator Ben Cardin, “I regret that you would think that it was a problem” and “I certainly didn’t mean anything by it. It was a poor choice of words.” . . . Bagley leaves listeners believing her real regret is that the [comments] resurfaced.

Still, Biden stood by Bagley, as did all eleven Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. . . . Bagley has been in and around Democratic politics and foreign policy for decades. However, looking at her biography, it’s not clear what uniquely qualifies Bagley for this particular post. Like some other ambassadors, Bagley has excelled as a political donor.

Biden’s unwavering loyalty to Bagley, along with the Senate’s confirmation, signals that openly anti-Semitic statements no longer disqualify nominees for prominent positions of public trust. Such statements no longer require repudiation. Flimsy explanations are sufficient, as partisanship trumps moral guardrails.

Read more at JNS

More about: Anti-Semitism, U.S. Politics

An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy