EDITORIAL: The Asterisk Ambassador

America’s Asterisk Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Matt Bryza, will soon be heading off to Baku.


President Obama, resorting to an 18th Century loophole written into our Constitution to deal with the slow pace of horse-drawn carriages, made this last-minute “recess” appointment while on vacation in Hawaii on December 29th, just days after the Congress left Washington. Bryza’s term will last less than a year, unless he is confirmed by the full U.S. Senate.

Our nation’s newest ambassador is being sent abroad in the face of unprecedented controversy, despite Senate holds by Barbara Boxer and Robert Menendez, without Senate confirmation, and amid unanswered questions about his troubling ties to Baku’s corrupt leadership, his disturbing record of diplomatic failures, and many ongoing conflict of interest issues related to the Azerbaijani government and the Caspian energy industry.

The President’s desperate push to get Bryza to Baku, a move cheered by Azerbaijan and its oil industry allies, comes at the cost of U.S. credibility and our nation’s diplomatic effectiveness.

In terms of the White House, it showcases both President’s indecisiveness in waiting more than a year to nominate Bryza and his lack of confidence that he could summon the facts, the arguments, or the political will to win Senate confirmation if he had re-nominated Bryza in the new session of Congress. In terms of U.S. foreign policy, the President’s resort to a recess appointment places a shadow over the head of an already controversial diplomat, further undermining our nation’s ability to advance our interests and values in our relations with Azerbaijan. It should be noted that even President George W. Bush, who twice nominated a similarly flawed ambassadorial nominee, Dick Hoagland, to represent the U.S. in Armenia, did not resort to a “recess” appointment to circumvent Senate opposition.

This Asterisk Ambassador’s unconfirmed status, on top of all his countless past missteps and mistakes, from Djulfa to Georgia, only adds to the reasons that he will not to be taken seriously, either in Washington or in Baku. This is especially dangerous at a time when Azerbaijan’s President is moving – through words and actions – toward a new Caucasus war.

Thankfully, the same U.S. Constitution that grants our President the right to make a recess appointment, also limits the term of his or her service to one year, which, in this case, ends in December of 2011.

The U.S. Senate and the State Department must both immediately launch formal investigations of possible conflict of interest violations raised during the Bryza confirmation process. The Senate, the White House, and the State Department should closely monitor his actions in Baku in order to guard against a repeat of his many failings and costly errors in his previous diplomatic postings. And finally, the Senate should safeguard U.S. interests and limit the damage done by this appointment by blocking his confirmation to a full term as Ambassador to Azerbaijan.

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22 Comments

  1. O'dodd said:

    Someone should put a trademark on the “Asterick Ambassador”! We shall see as Americans – not just of Armenian descent – but ALL Americans how we have been sold out for interests in oil and military both in Turkey and Baku. The latest Wikileaks from yesterday details the price that integrity and truth cost.

  2. Avery said:

    Well said Asbarez.

    Every time Bryza is mentioned, we must add the asterisk that he’s illegitimate: not legally confirmed by the US Senate, as the US Constitution requires.

    Same thing happened to ‘UN Ambassador’ (in quotes) John R. Bolton: the stench of illegitimacy has stuck to him to this day.

  3. Rosie Vartabed said:

    America will be sorry they have enabled the 6,000 lb Gorilla of Turkey and once again caved into their demands. It has been long known that the Azer-Turkey connection aims for a “2 nation 1 state.” With the oil riches of the Caspian Oil and America being the enabler of this sick relationship they will suffer from the stronghold antics of Turkey and the Turkish Lobbyists who frequently grease the palms of members of Congress and big business in America. Namely Oil contracts, military manufacturers, and even education with the Gulen Movement manipulating the ownership of over 100 charter schools in the USA. Poor America you did it again, another fine mess you got us in.

  4. Barkev Asadourian said:

    Bravo Aram. I think the only solution is Senate and Congress Houses can do!!!

  5. Stephan said:

    The U.S continnant has all the oil it needs. It is keeping its oil reserves untapped, while exhausting the oversees foreign reserves. In the mean time, oil prices will go up and local oil reserve owners will profit more, in the long run. Profit is the motive. Money talks.

    U.S firms are heavily involved in Turkey. Unless we can adversley influence it; decrease their profits, nothing is going to change. We do not possess the powerfull economic base.
    Let’s wake up. Let’s find ways to show the powerbrokers how we can outperform our adversaries. Then, we can have a chance to win.

  6. Telman said:

    Now, how is appointing an ambassador to a strong ally not in the interest of the U.S.? Or did you mean that keeping the post open was great for Armenia instead? Such a prolonged delay would have of course damaged Azeri-US relations, which is the real reason why you are upset that your Ethnic lobby failed to rule over American nationals interests. Or, who has appointed the Armenian community to judge who is and who is not a good professional diplomat. Everyone in the US government, except two senators needing Armenian votes, think otherwise.

    • Avery said:

      Telman:

      The same people that appointed you to advocate for your tribe’s interests, appointed me, and my fellow Armenian-Americans to advocate for what we believe to be in America’s interests, and judge who is and who is not a ‘professional’ diplomat (those people would be our Founding Fathers, the people who wrote the US Constitution, and all those kinds of people).

      When I, as an American citizen, am compelled to pay Federal taxes, it is my right and duty to question everything the Federal Government does, thru my representatives in the US Senate and the US House of Representatives.

      You don’t like it, see if you can change the US Constitution.

      Azerbaijan is run by a corrupt Oriental regime, headed by the current head of a corrupt family, Ilham Aliev, whose administration/family even US privately regards as a Corleone-like Mafia family, and who inherited the throne from his father, Haidar Aliev

      What’s in the best interest of Oil companies is not necessarily in the best interests of our nation, the United States of America.

      Who are you to question our right to petition our elected representatives for redress ?

      We are not living in Turkey or Azerbaijan, friend: within the law, we can say and do whatever we want.

      We don’t need your, or anybody’s else permission.

      As to ‘everyone in the US Government’ being so omniscient: the same bunch of ‘everyones’ also thought that Iraq had WMDs.

  7. Vacheh said:

    It matters very little as who is the ambassador to Baku. The fact of the matter is that we have re-gained the Karabagh and it will not be returned to Azeri control, regardless of who is in charge where. Levon Ter-Petrosyan tried to find a way to return it to Azerbaijan, he was pushed out properly. Kocharyan didn’t do it. Sargsyan cannot and will not do it.

    Bryza is appointed to facilitate larger and perhaps more lucrative oil / gas deals with Aliyev. The more corrupt the Azeri government, the less its troops will be motivated to fight, as observed during 1992-1994.

    Bryza couldn’t do much when he was in OSCE Minsk group. I am glad that he has not been appointed as ambassador to Armenia.

    My fellow Armenians, let us focus on the progress and strengthening of our hayrenik and our azg.

  8. Berge Jololian said:

    They (US State Department) kept feeding the wolf (Turkey); now the wolf has grown and is coming back to eat them.

    • Seervart said:

      Good point Berge. Turkey is very much sectarian and so is Azerbaijan. After all, how can you rely on 2 bigoted sectarian states nor to the words that they utter? Neither one can be relied upon. US is not thinking beyond the monies that they’ll make from the Azeri oil and Turkey’s military powers.

    • manooshag said:

      Berge, too the USA is now holding the the tail of the tiger which the USA attempted to tame…
      howsomever, now, the USA holds fast to the turkey tail… unable to let go! Manooshag

  9. manooshag said:

    Obama, so few are the choices to choose from the USA State Department? Or the caliber of the men/women of the State Department leave you no choice but to use a Bryza again… even after his inept and incapable performance to date. Too, certainly your choice of a Bryza now reflects, before the world, your obviously incorrect choice of a Bryza as an ambassador to ANYWHERE!! Manooshag

  10. Diran said:

    Equal attention should be given to similarly appointed F. Ricciardone as Ambassador to Turkey. He is no better. The two of them together will make a very effective team to further harm Armenia’s interests. That is, of course, the State Department’s plan.

  11. Emir said:

    Asterisk, star, important, not so important, biased, not biased… doesn’t really matter… The fact is that M.Bryza is a U.S. Ambassador and the person who wrote this is just an editor.

  12. Seervart said:

    Diran, The State Department can plan to harm Armenia as they did it by pushing for Levon Der Bedrossian as Armenia’s first Republic’s president. The State Department tried to harm Armenia again in 2009 with the deplorable protocols; but they didn’t succeed. Although after 8 or 9 years of “tavajan” Levon’s presidency, he was not able to give back our Karabakh, although thanks to him about 1 Million exodus happened in Armenia, but Karabakh is ours and it’s here to stay!!!!! The second harm was the protocols that was pushed by the State Dept.; but it didn’t materialize, thank goodness.

    Overall, while the US State Department is constantly trying to harm Armenia, Russia is right next door to Armenia and needs Armenia as her buffer zone between two sectarian States (Turkey & Azerbaijan). I am not naive to think that Russia does not look after her interests too; but they need us and we need them. We can get much use and hope from the Russians than any European, U.S. and Western countries. Let’s all remember that.

    • Avery said:

      Enough already with spreading misinformation about, and badmouthing Levon Ter Petrossian.

      What evidence do you have – other than hearsay – that President Ter Petrossian attempted to do any of the things you are alleging ? Were you in the Armenian Government at the time ?

      Here are some facts; see if you can refute them:

      [1] LTR and his colleagues of the ‘Kharabagh Committee’ started – that’s right, started – the movement to liberate Artsakh from the Azeri yoke, during the waning days of Soviet Union, by using Soviet Constitution and Soviet Law. Mr. Ter Petrossian and his colleagues did that while the Soviet KGB still had its very sharp fangs and could have ‘disappeared’ LTR and the whole Kharabagh Committee in a flash.

      [2] President Ter Petrossian’s very capable leadership during the darkest days of Republic of Armenia – when Yerevan residents were cutting down city’s trees for firewood – and eventual victory in Artsakh, belongs to glorious pages of Armenians’ history of struggle and survival.

      It is true that his most recent behaviour has been illogical, but everyone makes mistakes.
      Name me one Armenian leader – or any leader of any nation – that has not made mistakes.
      When you have to make decisions in real life, you make mistakes: the only way not to make mistakes is to make no decisions and do nothing.

      How many of you who criticize him so freely would have risked imprisonment and even death, and gone against the Soviet State and the KGB ?

      How many of you who criticize him so freely were in Yerevan with LTR when people were huddled in their homes without heat in the dead of the winter, snow piling up on the streets ?

      How many of you who criticize him so freely would have kept your cool, never lost your nerve, kept your head high, never considered anything but victory – at a time when Armenian troops were on the ropes and were suffering defeat after defeat ?

      Who do you think appointed the late Vazgen Sargsyan Defense Minister, and under whose leadership Armenian armed forces became a ‘lean, mean fighting machine’ and started winning battles ?

      When you have faced the same odds under the same conditions as LTR did, then you might have the moral right to criticize his actions.

      And calling the 1st President of Republic of Armenia ‘traitor’ is despicable.

      • manooshag said:

        Avery, you have some omissions… Ter Bedrossian sold many of Armenia’s assets and pocketed the monies and bought his home in France (he belongs far from our Haiastan). Too, when Armenians worldwide were seeking to come together, joining together in our efforts for our Haiastan Ter Bedrossian, in his addlepated mentality did not allow the ARF of Haiastan to join with the ARF which exists across all the civilized nations where our Survivors fled and sought havens to escape from the Turkish Genocide of the Armenian nation. And Ter Bedrossian has the gall to
        ever to return to a Haiastan, face his cohorts, having filled his own pockets… depleting the nation of Armenia when, instead, he could have been a patriot who led the citizens of Armenia honestly… advanced the nation instead of stealing/plundering in his communist mentality – against our new fledgling nation. Just a few… And, in the history books, how shall a Ter Bedrossian be mentioned… a great patriot?
        Manooshag

  13. Pingback: EDITORIAL: The Asterisk Ambassador | Asbarez Armenian News | The Daily Conservative

    • sepastasi mourad said:

      but you don’t call us that when “hand-out” time comes along each year , do you??You, friend, are the problem with this race, two faced and divisive!!!

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