Opinion

OPINION: Ric Grenell Is A Superb Choice For UN Ambassador — Even If He’d Incense The Left

Mike Pence swears in Richard Grenell YouTube screenshot/The White House

Christian Whiton Fmr. State Dept Sr. Advisor

Former State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert withdrew her nomination to succeed Nikki Haley as President Trump’s ambassador the United Nations. Despite faithfully advising two secretaries of state and holding a top security clearance, Nauert was reportedly sidelined by an absurd vetting and confirmation process that kills qualified nominees for irrelevant infractions.

Now Trump must choose a new nominee. He should select America’s toughest ambassador, Ric Grenell, who currently represents America to Germany. In his relatively short tenure, Grenell has qualitatively accomplished more than most U.S. ambassadors in modern history.

When the German government joined with France and Britain to lobby against Trump’s tougher policy on Iran, including unwisely urging their companies to ignore U.S. sanctions, Grenell calmly and systematically worked to assert U.S. interests. He made it crystal clear that European companies could choose to do business with America or Iran’s theocratic regime, but not both. Many German companies privately welcomed Grenell’s clarification of the matter, and of course chose America.

When it became known that an award-winning reporter for Der Spiegel, a left-wing German publication, had made up more than forty stories over the years, Grenell demanded an investigation. His efforts spotlighted the fact that the prominent anti-American publication produced fake news, and that the reporter’s sources in stories that made Americans look stupid and bigoted were fiction.

Grenell also worked assiduously to get Germany to accept the deportation of former Nazi labor camp guard Jakiw Palij from the United States, and strip him of his American citizenship. The former Nazi was deported last August.

Grenell has also played a significant role in reforming trade between America and Europe, especially in levelling the playing field for U.S. companies. He helped push Germany to accept the idea of reciprocal tariff rates with us, which in turn has put pressure on France to make concessions on the agriculture interests it protects.

Of course, in Washington no good deeds go unpunished. Grenell’s nomination would be controversial largely because he has been aggressive and effective.

Some establishment foreign policy poobahs on both sides of the Atlantic find Grenell’s tactics to be uncouth. When Grenell merely quoted the White House’s own language on Iran sanctions, Luxembourg’s foreign minister called it an “impertinence” and the Washington Post lamented in a headline, “Hours into his new job, Trump’s ambassador to Germany offends his hosts.”

When Grenell stated the obvious — that German Chancellor Merkel’s unilateral decision to admit one million Muslim refugees to Europe—was unpopular and driving support to conservative political forces like the pro-American Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, liberal U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) accused him of politicizing his post and called an interview he gave “awful.” A former leader of Germany’s left-wing Social Democrats said, “Grenell isn’t behaving like a diplomat.”

As Oscar Wilde wrote, “you can always judge a man by the quality of his enemies.” Some in the foreign policy establishment have the mistaken view that diplomacy is about papering over differences and attending polite receptions and conferences. American taxpayers and the current occupant of the Oval Office think otherwise: that our expensive diplomatic missions and their leaders are there to advance U.S. interests, and that sometimes a little plain talk goes a long way. After all, if we can’t be honest with our allies, who can we be honest with?

A fight over Grenell would be a fight worth having. Trump’s foreign policy of getting tough on Iran and China, reversing the de facto Obama approach of apologizing for America, equalizing trade, and avoiding optional wars and nation building is popular with the American people. If some senators want to embarrass themselves, as they did during last year’s hearings over Brett Kavanaugh’s successful nomination to the Supreme Court, so be it. The more that the progressive’s blame-America-first foreign policy and the Senate’s debased confirmation rituals are on display for the public, the better it is for Trump and America.

Grenell’s nomination would be captivating for what he has accomplished in Berlin and what he could accomplish in New York. He previously served nearly eight years at the U.S. mission to the United Nations, acting as the spokesman for four of George W. Bush’s ambassadors there (including John Bolton). He would continue the model set by Nikki Haley, Trump’s previous ambassador, by ensuring a strong pro-American voice in that otherwise corrupt and ineffective institution. Certainly Grenell would maximize the use of America’s permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, which can be used to spotlight Chinese and Iranian misconduct.

Finally, as the most prominent gay man in Trump’s administration, Grenell’s personal story is captivating. Progressives like to imagine that Trump is bigoted, even though his decades of executive experience in real estate, media, and politics demonstrate otherwise. Further elevating a conservative gay patriot won’t silence Trump’s critics on this matter, but it will demonstrate that their rage is based on irrational hatred toward Trump and his supporters, not fact.

Christian Whiton (@ChristianWhiton) was a State Department senior adviser in the Donald J. Trump and George W. Bush administrations. He is a senior fellow at the Center for the National Interest and is the author of “Smart Power: Between Diplomacy and War.”


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.