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The PJ Tatler

by
Bridget Johnson

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February 14, 2014 - 12:01 pm

An Alaska senator said the State Department called his office today to say that they would be creating a post for a U.S. ambassador to the Arctic.

Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) introduced the United States Ambassador at Large for Arctic Affairs Act a year ago, pressing Secretary of State John Kerry to make the appointment on economic and national security grounds.

Six of the eight Arctic nations currently have ambassador-level diplomats representing their interests before the Arctic Council. The United States will assume the chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2015.

“It’s not always easy explaining to Washington bureaucrats how things are different at home in Alaska, but today’s decision by Secretary of State John Kerry to finally create an Arctic Ambassador is an important step in the right direction,” said Begich. “The bottom line is that the changes we see in the Arctic warrant a higher level of involvement from the U.S. and this position will allow us to better exercise leadership and vision in Arctic policy moving forward.”

Begich first introduced a bill pushing for an American Arctic Ambassador when he came to the Senate in 2008 and he’s reintroduced it each Congress.

His bill in the 113th Congress had one co-sponsor, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).

According to that legislation, the Arctic ambassador would “represent the United States in matters and cases relevant to Arctic affairs in (A) contacts with foreign governments, intergovernmental organizations, and specialized agencies of the United Nations, the Arctic Council, and other international organizations of which the United States is a member; and (B) multilateral conferences and meetings relating to Arctic affairs.”

“The Ambassador shall be a principal adviser to the President and the Secretary of State regarding matters affecting Arctic affairs and shall make recommendations regarding the policies of the United States relating to Arctic affairs.”

Kerry attended the meeting of the Arctic Council — Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States — in Sweden on May 15.

Heightening concern was China’s use of the Arctic in August as a sea shortcut from the Atlantic to the Pacific by hugging the Russian coast.

“The reason China and those other countries are knocking on the door is that they all want get observer status in the council, because the only countries in the council are the countries that border round the Arctic,” Kerry told the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations in April.

No word on whether the Arctic ambassador will have to have ever been to the Arctic.

“I don’t have any personnel announcements to make, but we may very well at some point soon, but nothing to announce at this point,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said at today’s press briefing.

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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All Comments   (24)
All Comments   (24)
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Hmmm. Some folks apparently don't know the meaning of the word, "ambassador".

Well, considering the source, I guess that's not surprising.

40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
I saw the Ice Capades when I was six. Does that mean I qualify for the job?
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm not worried about the polar bears, they can take care of themselves. The penguins, however, are another matter. Some of our diplomats and their staff have been known to be kinky.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Arctic affairs = oil Asian countries are thirsty for oil. Arctic Ambassador sounds silly at first but I think it's probably a good idea.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
The strongest criterion I can offer for the Arctic Ambassador: They should have worked with the Applied Physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins, and taken part in at least on Ice Exercise, a US Submarine Exercise demonstrating undersea dominance.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm thinking AlGore would be a perfect fit. It would honor him for his tireless global warming jihad, and reward him by providing him an escape from the horrific effects of the global warming he has so valiantly fought.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Uh -oh. Steven Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, has (for a number of years) focused his attention on the Arctic. Although as noted in this article, the Arctic Council consists of eight nations, right now there are another 12 nations which have been granted "observer status" (with observer status they can attend meetings, but cannot vote). Harper worries that these 12 nations (which include China, India, Japan, South Korea, Italy, Singapore, etc) outnumber the original 8 nations, but worse, the 12 have an agenda. They wish to "internationalize" the Arctic (as with Antarctica). Harper contends that only nation states with Arctic territory should be members of the Arctic Council. Anyway, I do not for a minute trust Obozo to assert American interests in the Arctic -- Obozo and his lackeys would be much more apt to assert China's and Russia's "rights" to Arctic resources, while undermining the United States and Canada.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
I agree with Christian Adams below, but we can be assured that whoever Obama appoints to the post, s/he will be one cold-hearted SOB.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
"I can see the Arctic from my front porch!"

Actually, anyone who drinks their scotch on the rocks, will do.

Waste of good scotch, but there it is.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, even if the person who is appointed to this desirable post has never been to the Arctic, we should INSIST that he/she speak reindeer.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
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