Obama’s top Russian advisor slated for ambassadorial position

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
A Washington official confirmed on Sunday that Michael A. McFaul will be nominated as the next ambassador to Russia, which could have an interesting effect on bilateral relations in light of upcoming presidential elections in both countries.

According to The New York Times, quoting anonymous sources, President Barack Obama plans to nominate Michael McFaul, his top White House adviser on Russia policy, for the post. The article went on to say that Obama informed Russian President Dmitry Medvedev of his choice during their meeting in France last week, the officials said.

The current Ambassador to Russia is John Beyrle, who has held the position since July 2008.

McFaul, who works for the US National Security Council as Special Assistant to the President on Russian and Eurasian Affairs, helped engineer the so-called “reset” in U.S.-Russia relations alongside US President Barack Obama three years ago.

And with the US-Russia relationship currently on the rocks over America’s determination to build a missile defense system in Eastern Europe, analysts say McFaul will try to mollify Russia over the military technology.

That will not be an easy sell.

Moscow has repeatedly told its western partners that the construction of a missile defense system on its doorstep will be perceived as a national security threat, possibly sparking another arms race.

At the G-8 Summit in France last week, President Dmitry Medvedev told the assembled global leaders that without Russia’s direct participation in the ambitious project, which is ostensibly designed to protect the European continent from a “rogue” missile attack, there could be a full-blown arms race by the year 2020.

If appointed, McFaul would become the first ambassador to Russia in 30 years who is not a career diplomat, The Times article said. However, the appointment may also indicate a less-than-diplomatic line to Russian policy in the future.

McFaul has been a vocal critic of Russia, while having a marked tendency to ignore the double standards of his position.

For example, in an article written before his appointment as Washington advisor (“More Stick, Less Carrot,” 2008), McFaul attempts to argue that “integration is no longer a goal of Russian foreign policy.” Instead, Russia is “balancing against the West, and the United States in particular, as the central objective of Russian foreign policy.”

McFaul cites as examples of the Kremlin’s newfound “assertiveness” the “resumption of strategic bomber missions, conducting military exercises with the Chinese, and threatening pro-American countries such as Georgia.”

The article ignored the Bush administration’s penchant for opening up military operations around the world, not to mention the lawless nature of these adventures. Russia, meanwhile, was merely responding to what many other countries around the world saw as unilateral flexing of power.

“The French are so concerned by the dominance of American power—militarily, economically, culturally, and technologically,” explained Slate magazine back in early 2003 when Colin Powell was attempting to sell the Iraq War in the United Nations, “that a former French foreign minister felt the need to coin a new word to describe it: hyperpuissance, or "hyperpower."

Hopefully, McFaul’s worldview, which seems to hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil when it comes to Washington’s predilection for delivering democracy around the globe from the end of a bloody bayonet, will become less conspicuously one-sided should he become the next ambassador to Russia.

As of Sunday, citing rules prohibiting US officials from commenting on such topics until the formal announcement of the appointment, McFaul has refused to comment to the media.

Robert Bridge, RT