U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, right, and Victor Cha, the U.S. National Security Council’s director for Asian Affairs, walk through their hotel lobby before heading to a second day of six party talks on North Korea’s nuclear program, in Beijing Tuesday March 20, 2007. (AP Photo/Greg Baker)
As the situation is heating up in Korea, the Trump administration has been criticized for not having a confirmed ambassador in Seoul. That doesn’t mean we don’t have a high level diplomat there, it merely means that this is a convenient club with which to belabor the administration.
The administration had nominated Victor D. Cha, an academic who served in the George W. Bush administration. And then his nomination was withdrawn. This is how the Washington Post covered the story.
Disagreement on North Korea policy derails White House choice for ambassador to South Korea
The White House’s original choice for U.S. ambassador to South Korea is no longer expected to be nominated after he privately expressed disagreement in late December with the Trump administration’s North Korea policy, according to people familiar with the matter.
Victor D. Cha, an academic who served in the George W. Bush administration, raised his concerns with National Security Council officials over their consideration of a limited strike on the North aimed at sending a message without sparking a wider war — a risky concept known as a “bloody nose” strategy.
Cha also objected to the administration’s threats to tear up a bilateral trade deal with Seoul that President Trump has called unfair to American companies. Last week, the administration imposed new tariffs on imports of washing machines and solar energy panels, a move criticized by the South Korean government.
The White House had spent months conducting a security and financial background check on Cha, and U.S. officials formally notified Seoul in December of Trump’s intent to send his nomination to the Senate. South Korean officials quickly signed off on Cha, a formal process in international affairs known as “Agrément.”
The assertion is that this op-ed led to the Trump administration to withdraw its support for Cha. Don’t get me wrong. If an ambassador will not support the administration’s policy in a place where war could break out at any minute then it would be folly to nominate him. I think the op-ed is more than adequate grounds for saying that no matter what skills and abilities Cha may have, he is not the man for the job.
But then you find this:
A person familiar with the nomination process said a red flag was raised during Cha’s background check that led officials to determine he could not serve in the ambassador’s post. But this person, who was not authorized to speak publicly, did not offer specifics.
Experts said the White House’s presidential personnel office handles vetting of political appointees. Cha’s background check was said to be extensive, and he signed an ethics letter agreeing to step down from CSIS and Georgetown once he was confirmed by the Senate.
So the guy fails the background check. But the reason his nomination is dropped is because he disagree with the Trump administration on policy.
The Washington Post’s post-Trump motto has been “Democracy Dies in the Dark.” If democracy is relying upon the Washington Post to keep it alive, then we are well and truly f***ed.