Presidential candidate Obama would gladly see Finland join NATO
US Presidential hopeful Senator Barack Obama addressed five ambassadorial nominees before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday. The current Democratic front-runner Obama was chairing the hearing of the nominees, among whom was also Barbara McConnell Barrett, the proposed new U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Finland.
The other nominees included Yousif Boutrous Ghafari to be Ambassador to the Republic of Slovenia, Frank Urbancic, Jr. to be Ambassador to the Republic of Cyprus, Nancy E. McEldowney to be Ambassador to the Republic of Bulgaria, and Kurt D. Volker to be U.S. Permanent Representative on the Council of NATO.
When speaking to the five diplomats, Obama emphasised that they all were coming before the Committee “at a defining moment in America's story”.
After having addressed the other four nominees, Obama turned his attention to Barrett and said:
“Finally, Ms. Barrett, you have a different task, as you will represent America in a country that has travelled further down the path of democracy and prosperity. Finland is a world leader in technology and innovation, and even outranks the United States in some measures of development. But it still faces challenges in its relationship with Russia and its longstanding position outside of Euro-Atlantic security institutions. At some point soon, Finland may move toward membership in NATO. Should the Finish (sic) people and government choose to pursue that objective, I hope you will be their biggest booster."
By this Obama signalled that he would gladly welcome Finland as part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
Obama, who is presently in a head-to-head battle for the Democratic Party’s Presidential candidacy with the former first lady Hillary Clinton, also stated that “NATO is not as strong, as capable, or as united as it should be.”
"Afghanistan, NATO's first major mission beyond the borders of Europe, has been overlooked and undermanned by many members of the alliance, including the United States", the senator for the State of Illinois added.
In his election campaign speeches Obama has promised to withdraw American troops from Iraq, and to lay much more emphasis than the current President George W. Bush has done on diplomacy and the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan.
In the event that Obama or his rival Hillary Clinton succeed later this year in taking the Presidency of the United States against Republican candidate John McCain, the chances are that U.S. ambassadorships around the world will soon be on the table once again, as the United States practice has been for the White House to appoint all ambassadors.
Increasingly in recent years, a good many of the appointments have been of a non-diplomatic nature, rewarding supporters of the incumbent President's party.
Previously in HS International Edition:
New U.S. Ambassador to Finland is former Hornet pilot (4.4.2008)
Senator Obama Press Release
Barack Obama (Wikipedia)