We are on the heels of Women’s History Month, and CPAC was chock full of not only female panelists, but female candidates. This fascinating panel called, “Trump’s Ambassadors” featured three women ambassadors who were Trump appointees: Lynda Blanchard, Ambassador to Slovenia (which is also First Lady Melania Trump’s birth country), Lana Marks, Ambassador to South Africa, and Carla Sands, Ambassador to Denmark.
CPAC Co-Chair Mercedes Schlapp moderated the discussion, and asked questions of them concerning commerce, foreign relations, national security, trade, energy, and the way forward in terms of the state of the world. Schlapp wanted the attendees to,
“[G]et inspired by this panel. Because these are dynamic leaders who stood on the international stage,” she encouraged.
Why should Americans care about who gets appointed as ambassador to some foreign country or about the world at all? We need to look no further than the state of Ukraine and an aggressive Russia to know why it is important.
Denmark Amb. Carla Sands reinforced this to a finer point.
“We need to pay attention to the world, and not fall asleep at the switch,” she said.
Amb. to Slovenia Lynda Blanchard talked about her introduction to the Slovenian people, and said that they were encouraged by her appointment.
“They were hungry for a strong, political ambassador,” she said.
Lana Marks, Amb. to South Africa, spoke to the power of the position to get things accomplished.
“It was the opportunity of a lifetime to get things done for America.”
Schlapp lead the ambassadors into a discussion of national security and how an ambassador can have a powerful affect on this. Former DNI and Ambassador to Germany Rick Grenell is another example of the affect of strong leadership on the world stage.
Amb. Sands affirmed that her embassy team,
“worked to counter Russia and China, we worked every day,” she said.
“The U.S. hadn’t paid attention to the high north for 67 years. Russia, and China were all over it, and we were nowhere to be seen. We were able, with President Trump’s support, to harness that region, which is close to North America, to get it more secure.”
Along with Ukraine, Sands continues to see the looming threat of Russia and China in terms of not only America’s national security, but our energy security as well. Sands saw the need for reinforcement in leadership on the national front, and is now mounting a run for Senate in Pennsylvania.
Amb. Blanchard also spoke to the looming threat of Russia and China. Amb. Marks affirmed the great need for strong leadership to counter this threat.
“It’s not a coincidence that shortly after I arrived, the Chinese ambassador was relocated back to China, she said.
“For the entire length of time I served, there was no Chinese ambassador.”
And when Marks stepped own, the Chinese ambassador was reinstalled.
No coincidence there at all.
Blanchard also illuminated that,
“Slovenia is the northernmost port that is not part of China’s footprint,” she said.
China is looking to change this, and getting increasingly aggressive. Blanchard sees the situation thusly,
“Clearly this has been a diplomatic failure under President Biden’s weak leadership.”
Blanchard was also quite proud of building commerce with Slovenia, instituting,
“Port-to-port trade for the first time ever. It was our focus to also look at niches, how we can learn from each other. Right now, I tell you, the United States of America needs chips, and bearings.”
Blanchard then expounded on Trump’s focus to get the NATO countries up to giving 2 percent toward NATO defense.
“Trump wanted to make sure NATO bumped up their participation, and pulling in defense products,” she said.
“They are in a better position now to protect you, than four years ago when we arrived, because of President Trump.”
But Sands pointed to the sad reality that,
“The American taxpayer is still carrying the burden for Europe’s defense, while [Europe] imports gas and fossil fuels from Russia.”
Sands agreed with her fellow ambassadors that strong ambassadorial leadership was necessary to hold the line on America’s commerce, national security, and energy security, as well as the creation of collaborative partnerships with foreign countries that will not blow up in our faces.
“There is no substitute. We really are the leaders in NATO,” Sands asserted.
“The world needs more American leadership, and the world needs to get it right. We see what happens, with Ukraine, when we have a bully, and we have a weak President.”
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