Even as former Ambassador Thomas Pickering has been deservedly thrashed in the media for "taking money from Boeing while vocally supporting the Iran nuclear deal" -- the same Boeing that recently inked a $25 billion passenger jet deal with Tehran -- his old striped pants have barely been creased. The Pickering facade of Grand Old Diplomat remains in place, if now a little crooked.
But there is so much more to Pickering than his many diplomatic posts, however lofty they may seem to reporters including Betsy Woodruff at the Daily Beast, who broke the Boeing-Pickering-Iran story of hot and greasy palms as a simple story of how the mighty have fallen: "Thomas Pickering, one of the country’s most respected diplomats and a and former ambassador to Israel and the United Nations ..."
To be sure, Pickering is a member of the "foreign policy establishment," and, I have no doubt, still in good standing. He is no mere opportunist, however; he is a hardened leftist boring oh so elegantly from within. He is a hyperactive globalist, driven to join with other hyperactive globalists to harness the United States like a team of oxen to power a vision of ungodly creation according to the collective whim of their "consultative leadership" -- which is something of a cliche in the stately venues of globalconferenceworld.
Virtually none of stories in this recent news cycle offer any clues to this side of Pickering's CV.
Just before the 2012 election, I took a look at Pickering for a syndicated column on his appointment to head the State Department's Benghazi investigation -- for starters, sheer mockery when it comes to avoiding conflicts of interest.
Here is an excerpt:
Pickering is one of those Washington insiders whose public record is less a matter of what he’s done than what he’s been: U.S. ambassador to Russia, Israel, El Salvador, Jordan, India, Nigeria and the United Nations.What such postings may obscure, however, is that the man is a foreign policy establishment leftist.
It’s not just that Pickering serves as chairman of the board of trustees of the International Crisis Group, a George Soros group that, for example, advocated engagement with the Shariah-supremacist Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
Turns out, a Soros-funded group called The Ploughshares Fund, an Obama administration surrogate in support of the Iran nuclear deal, has also been funding NPR's coverage of the Iran story with grants totalling $700,000 since 2005. These grants specifically mentioned "Iran" coverage since 2010.
"It is common practice for foundations to fund media coverage of underreported stories," Ploughshares spokeswoman told the AP.
Really? Strikes me that foundation-supported "news" stories, whether at NPR or anywhere else, should include such information, and especially when actually earmarked: "This Iran story was sponsored in part by a grant from George Soros," or some such.
Back to 2012 and Pickering.
Pickering has personally explored opening relations with Hamas; pushed peace talks with the Taliban; argued for getting rid of, or removing to the U.S., all tactical nuclear weapons in Europe (and moving Russia’s to east of the Urals); and promoted bilateral talks with Iran without preconditions. And speaking of Iran, Pickering sits on the boards of two pro-Tehran groups, the American Iranian Council and the National Iranian American Council. The Iranian connections are additionally disturbing since one Benghazi scenario to be explored is whether Iran was involved, possibly in retribution for U.S. support of anti-Assad forces (including jihadists) in Syria.
Pickering’s politics place him squarely inside the Obama foreign policy mainstream, but that’s not the proper point from which to investigate an Obama foreign policy fiasco. Indeed, Pickering has expressed support for Obama’s Libya policy, “where,”as he put it in March, “we play a major role behind the scenes and … incorporate many other people in the activities we did in Libya.” Explaining the Libyan “experimentation” in “consultative leadership” that minimizes the U.S. military role, Pickering surely sounds as if he also endorsed the disastrous policy of relying on local jihadist militias for U.S. security.
That alone should have caused him to recuse himself from investigating Benghazi, where local jihadist militias were hired by the United States to provide, yes, security. But see where this goes:
On a panel titled “The Muslim Experience in America” at Washington’s National Cathedral, Pickering recently advocated “dialogue with the Iranians … informed by an effort to develop religious understanding and perhaps harmony,” while also bridging the “gulf” with Islam in America more generally.
He also made an ominous call for “strong efforts … to deal with opinion leaders who harbor (anti-Islam) prejudices, who espouse them and spread them.”
Then he took a question on how returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans might “complicate efforts to promote the acceptance of Muslims in America.” His answer, in a nutshell, was that it wouldn’t. He noted that soldiers “understand that as loyal Americans that kind of prejudice is not to be expressed.”
This drew a fervent rebuttal from co-panelist James J. Zogby of the Arab American Institute, who argued that “the racism [of soldiers] was really intense”; further, that it resulted from manuals and classes now expunged from Pentagon and Justice training. (“The FBI training program is shameful,” he added, referring to Islamic educational materials and trainers “purged” earlier this year.)
“There’s a direct correlation between the president of the United States and Islamophobia,” Zogby said, adding: “This hatred toward Muslims is largely concentrated with middle-class, middle-aged white people. And men. And it overlaps almost identically with the Tea Party.”
Racism, hatred and the Tea Party: Zogby put this whole concoction down not to jihad, not to the Islamic movement to spread Shariah (Islamic law), but solely to economic hard times. “And in the midst of all of that,” he continued, “this group of white, middle-aged, middle-class men looked around and saw a young African-American, educated at Harvard, with the middle name Hussein, get elected president of the United States. It fueled this phenomenon. It opened the door for the wedge issue to operate.”
Noting polls reflecting persistent doubts about the president’s birth certificate and other documents, Zogby concluded: “So there’s an overlay between the racism and the Islamophobia, and I think that we have to understand it and address it. And realize that there is this dangerous cancer that has affected the electorate. And is being used as a wedge issue.”
Pickering’s response? “Let me just go further. Jim, I agree with what you say about both domestic politics and the wedge issue. And the effect on the attitude toward the president. I’m deeply concerned. I don’t agree with you that the veterans are a problem. I agree with you we had a huge problem with the armed forces, and you’re right: It is the enemy.”
Those “racist” armed forces are “the enemy”? That’s a U.S. diplomat talking? This most undiplomatic expression of institutional animus toward the military would seem to represent the mindset that helped lead to Benghazi.
Could someone who agrees that jihad is a poisonous figment of envious Tea Partiers and not an age-old institution of Islam possibly find out what’s at the bottom of Benghazi? Of course not. And who doesn’t think that’s why Barack Obama picked him?
So much for "our betters," and so much for their "higher purpose": how to direct "the global role of the United States."
That happens to be the title of a 2014 conference that Pickering attended at the American Ditchley Foundation, where he also serves on the board of directors.
What is Ditchley? This "note by the Director" gives off heavy One World vapors, with smelling salts to be applied uniquely by the US of A:
Did the world want/need US leadership? Most round the table thought so. Whatever mistakes had been made in the past, the effects of the relative absence of US leadership in Syria, events in Ukraine and Chinese assertiveness in its neighbourhood had been enough to convince many that a world without an active US was too dangerous.
No other country was capable or willing to step up in the US’s place. At the same time, a more consultative form of leadership was clearly needed, with the emphasis on working through alliances, partnerships and ad hoc coalitions.
Moreover a new effort to fix the multilateral system was needed, which the US should lead. Had the US disqualified itself from leadership in terms of values and principles by its own failure to stick to them in too many cases? This was clearly a problem, and others would continue to play on the themes of lack of consistency and hypocrisy.
But it was still better to have the right values and to want to promote them than to lapse into cynicism and narrow interpretations of national interest ...
It does seem fair to say that Pickering, a top US career diplomat, has none.