The Washington Times - September 26, 2008, 02:42PM

In time for tonight’s first presidential debate, more than 200 former ambassadors and other diplomats formally endorsed Sen. Barack Obama.

The Obama campaign just released the “open letter to the American people,” which was signed by both political appointees and civil servants.


“We are supporting Senator Barack Obama because of his judgment, experience and ability to inspire people to come together around a common purpose,” the letter said. “Senator Obama’s talents offer an historic opportunity; for the sake of America’s security and standing in the world, we must seize it.”

Not surprisingly, among the names on the list are well-known Democratic foreign-policy figures, such as former secretaries of state Madeleine Albright and Warren Christopher. Mrs. Albright supported Sen. Hillary Clinton in the primaries. But there are also retired career diplomats who have served both Democratic and Republican administrations: William Harrop, Daniel Kurtzer, Edward Gnehm and Edward Walker, among others.

“As former diplomats, we believe it is past time that we had a president with the judgment and confidence — in himself, our diplomatic corps and our values — to talk directly to America’s adversaries with due preparation but without preconditions,” they wrote.

In June, the American Academy of Diplomacy, whose membership includes some of the people who signed today’s letter, urged both Mr. Obama and his Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain, to commit to reducing significantly the number of political ambassadorial appointments when either of them becomes president.

— Nicholas Kralev, diplomatic correspondent, The Washington Times