- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 13, 2011


Richard M. Nixon would shock the sensibilities of today’s politically correct world of diplomacy with his blunt view of career diplomats as “eunuchs,” his salty assessment of a well-endowed envoy, and his defense of political donors as ambassadors.

Nixon revealed his standards for picking ambassadors in testimony before a federal grand jury in 1975, nearly one year after he resigned from the presidency during the Watergate scandal and received a pardon from President Gerald R. Ford. The National Archives and the Nixon Presidential Library released a transcript of the testimony last week.

Part of the grand jury probe involved accusations that Nixon sold ambassadorships for large campaign donations, a charge he forcefully denied. Nixon, like other presidents, rewarded some top supporters with plum diplomatic posts but insisted he never offered an appointment in exchange for campaign cash.

He defended politically appointed ambassadors, saying that “some of the very best ambassadors have been non-career ambassadors who have made substantial contributions.” Nixon noted President Harry S Truman’s appointment of socialite Perle Mesta as ambassador to Luxembourg.

“Perle Mesta wasn’t sent to Luxembourg because she had big bosoms,” he said. “Perle Mesta went to Luxembourg because she made a good contribution.”

He also said President Franklin D. Roosevelt rewarded Joseph P. Kennedy with the ambassadorship to Britain for making a large campaign donation.

Nixon expressed contempt for career diplomats, who still get less glamorous hardship postings.

“As far as career ambassadors, most of them are a bunch of eunuchs,” he said. “I don’t mean that in a physical sense, but I meant it in an emotional sense, in a mental sense. They aren’t for the American free-enterprise system.”


Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:


• Tony Blair, a former prime minister of Britain. He joins Education Secretary Arne Duncan for an education forum at the Newseum.

• Michelle Bachelet, former president of Chile and now executive director of U.N. Women. She participates in a Council on Foreign Relations forum on women in peacemaking efforts.

• Bharat Karnad of the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi, India. He discusses U.S.-Indian relations at a forum at the Heritage Foundation.

• C. Raja Mohan of the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi, India. He addresses the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on the domestic and foreign policy of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.


• Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former Saudi ambassador to the United States and director of the Saudi intelligence service. He holds an 11:30 a.m. news conference at the National Press Club to discuss the alleged Iranian assassination plot against the current Saudi ambassador, Adel al-Jubeir, and other issues.

• Jean-Louis Billon, president of the Ivorian Chamber of Commerce. He addresses the Center for Strategic and International Studies about issues involving the Ivory Coast, including the International Criminal Court investigation of former President Laurent Gbagbo.

• Jorge Castaneda, a former foreign minister of Mexico; Fernando Henrique Cardoso, a former president of Brazil; Vicente Fox, a former president of Mexico; and Luis Alberto Lacalle Pou, speaker of the House of Deputies of Uruguay. They discuss the global war on drugs in a forum at the Cato Institute.

• Ales Mikhalevich, a prominent Belarusian pro-democracy activist and former presidential candidate. He testifies about political repression in Belarus at a hearing of the congressional Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe at 10:30 a.m. in Room 210 of the Cannon House Office Building.


• Samih al-Abed, a former top negotiator for the Palestinian Authority; Yossi Beilin, a former Israeli Cabinet member and peace negotiator; and Peter Maurer, Switzerland’s state secretary for foreign affairs. They discuss Israeli-Palestinian issues at a forum sponsored by the Middle East Institute.

• Petr Pithart, a former prime minister of the Czech Republic and now vice president of the Czech Senate. He addresses the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email [email protected] The column is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

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