Donald Trump has just appointed Jon Huntsman to be the new United States Ambassador to Russia. On the fact of it, Huntsman is not a controversial choice. Having served as US Ambassador to China from 2009 to 2011 and US Ambassador to Singapore form 1992 to 1993, Huntsman is to be sure, something of a diplomatic veteran by US standards.
Likewise, appointing a former Ambassador to China to a role in Moscow is not necessarily a bad choice as while China and Russia have governments which operate in totally different manners, both China and Russia are close allies and they are the only two countries apart from the United States that can call themselves nuclear super-powers.
However, when one examines Hutsman’s record in China, things start to become worrying.
It is not the job of any diplomat to become involved in geo-strategic policy making and it is certainly not their job to foment domestic agitations or revolutions in the countries to which they are assigned. But this is exactly what Huntsman did while in China.
While in China, Huntsman became involved in supporting and some would say also fomenting a small anti-government movement that the US code-named “The Jasmine Revolution”. Huntsman got into trouble when he was videoed at one of the protests where he was speaking with demonstrates in Mandarin. He later claimed to have turned up “by accident”, a feeble excuse Beijing did not accept.
China was furious and blocked videos of Huntsman from circulating on the web in China. Huntsman left his position in China shortly thereafter.
His qualifications as something with experience in Asia and a fluent speaker of Mandarin were clearly offset by his un-diplomatic behaviour on the streets of China.
Of course, China like Russia is too powerful to fall victim to the kind of insurgencies the US has fomented elsewhere, but the fact remains, it is totally unethical and wrong for a diplomat to engage in such activities, irrespective of where such a diplomat is posted.
It is something of an irony that Russia’s Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak has been slammed by the Russophobic western mainstream media for simply having businesslike conversations with US officials, even though that is a key part of an Ambassador’s job, while Huntsman was a man who actively did something that is the opposite of his job and he’s now set to be Washington’s next man in Moscow.
Can we expect Huntsman to be seen at Moscow rallies led by the far-right agitator Alekey Navalny?
Suddenly the appointment of Huntsman gets increasingly curious, not least because when Huntsman attempted to run for President in 2012, Donald Trump gave Huntsman a ringing un-endorsement.
Jon Huntsman called to see me. I said no, he gave away our country to China! @JonHuntsman
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 9, 2012
Either Huntsman’s appointment is an attempt to put a seemingly interventionist, deep-state man in what has become a controversial position due to the Russiagate matter or Trump merely made an oversight as he is inclined to do in respect of diplomatic appointments, most notoriously with Nikki Haley who was appointed America’s Ambassador to the UN in spite of not having any diplomat or foreign policy experience or expertise.