Who is John Roos (and why that's important)
by markjay, Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 09:51:15 PM EDT
As the second largest economy in the world and one of the U.S.'s most important allies, Japan has graditionally been treated with utmost respect diplomatically. Almost every U.S. ambassador to Japan in the last few decades has been a real political heavyweight, including influential politicians (e.g., Walter Mondale) or prominent international relations scholars (e.g., Michael Armacost).
Who then is John Roos, and why does that matter?
According to the New York Times and other sources, Secretary of State Clinton strongly pushed for Joseph Nye to be U.S. Ambassador to Japan. Former Dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, Nye is one of the best-known and most influential international relations scholars in the U.S. He served in both the Carter and Clinton administrations, and pioneered the theory of "soft power." He is of course very well known and respected in Japan.
Unfortunately, Obama rejected Nye and insisted on appointing one of his key fundraisers, John Roos, who has no background in international diplomacy or any obvious connection to Japan. And it is Roos who must navigate what could be a complex period in U.S.-Japan relations following the recent elections in Japan.
Unfortunately, appointing people to important posts based on their connections rather their qualifications didn't end with the Bush administration.