- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 5, 2009


The “Lion of the Senate” purred Wednesday as he thanked Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II for granting him an honorary knighthood.

“I am deeply grateful to Her Majesty the Queen … for this extraordinary honor,” Sen. Edward M. Kennedy said, after British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced the tribute before a joint session of Congress.

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Mr. Brown said the Massachusetts Democrat, who has been in the Senate since 1962, was honored for his efforts to bring peace to Northern Ireland, the British province where Protestants and Catholics had been in conflict for centuries.

“Northern Ireland is today at peace; more Americans have health care; more children around the world are going to school; and, for all those things, we owe a great debt to the life and courage of Senator Edward Kennedy,” Mr. Brown said.

Mr. Kennedy, who is suffering from a brain tumor and did not attend the congressional session, issued a statement calling the honor “moving and personal.”

As an American citizen, he cannot use the title “sir” in front of his name, but Mr. Kennedy can use the initials KBE after his name. Those letters stand for Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

Queen Elizabeth last month also conferred a KBE on former Sen. John W. Warner, Virginia Republican, for his service to promote U.S.-British relations through his three decades in the Senate.


President Obama risks losing U.S. influence in Latin America, where Russia, China and Iran are extending their clout, a former Costa Rican diplomat told Congress this week.

Ambassador Jaime Daremblum also warned that Iran might have already set up a terrorist network in Venezuela, run by anti-American President Hugo Chavez.

“Thus far, President Obama has disappointed those who hoped he would move aggressively to boost U.S. engagement” in South and Central America, he said Tuesday in testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Western Hemisphere subcommittee.

“If the United States does not make its own hemisphere a priority, it risks losing influence there. That would be bad for the United States and bad for Latin America.”

Mr. Daremblum, ambassador in Washington from 1998 to 2004, called Iran the greatest danger to the region.

“There is evidence that Iran’s warm relationship with Hugo Chavez … has allowed the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah to establish a presence in Venezuela,” he said.

Mr. Daremblum, now director of the Center for Latin American Studies at the Washington-based Hudson Institute, also held Bolivian President Evo Morales responsible for the deterioration in relations with the United States.

“Morales has embraced a political model that thrives on conflict, confrontation and bullying,” Mr. Daremblum added. “Much like Hugo Chavez, he uses anti-Americanism as a political tool and spins wild conspiracy theories about the United States.”

In September, Mr. Morales expelled U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg, after accusing him of plotting against his government. The United States responded by expelling Bolivian Ambassador Mario Gustavo Guzman.

Subcommittee Chairman Eliot L. Engel, who described himself as a friend of Bolivia, added that Mr. Morales’ actions make it difficult for him to help mend relations.

The New York Democrat criticized Mr. Morales for expelling Mr. Goldberg and Israeli Ambassador Shlomo Cohen, who was kicked out of Bolivia in January to protest Israel’s military operation in Gaza.

“I would like to see both of our countries move quickly to improve relations,” Mr. Engel said. “But my message to the Bolivian government is that it takes two to tango.”

&#8226 Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison @washingtontimes.com.

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