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Popular Croatian news website Jutarnji.hr looked into the biography of newly appointed Ambassador of the United States to Croatia W. Robert Kohorst and had a few things to say about it. The website also had a fair amount of praise for current Ambassador Julieta Valls Noyes, appointed by Barrack Obama in 2015, saying that “she was brilliantly received in the diplomatic corps and will be missed by Croatia.”
Such praise, however, was lacking when it came to President Trump’s new appointment. The headline of the piece is, in an of itself, unsympathetic – “HOW A HALLOWEEN COSTUME MANUFACTURER BECAME THE NEW U.S. AMBASSADOR IN ZAGREB.”
One significant detail that the Jutarnji.hr article doesn’t mention is that President Donald Trump, at this point, merely announced his intent to nominate W. Robert Kohorst for the position, along with announcing similar intent for over 40 individuals for various other positions in his administration. The full announcement [en] was posted on the White House blog on September 2, 2017. Those appointments have yet to be confirmed by the Senate.
What the article has taken issue with is that W. Robert Kohorst is not a career diplomat, but rather seems to be a real estate industry colleague of Trump’s with close ties to the Republican Party. The website reports that Kohorst not only contributed some $600,000 to the GOP in 2016, but was also a part of Trump’s campaign “behind the scenes” and “attended an important meeting held on December 12 of last year in Beverly Hills as part of the transition team of the President-elect in talks with key Republican strategists and contributors.”
The White House announcement does not mention any political or diplomatic career experience in Kohorst’s short biography provided there. Instead, the announcement lists Kohorst’s professional experience in “law, real estate and finance,” adding that “Mr. Kohorst has contributed to public service organizations and educational institutions as director and chairman of the Young Presidents’ Organization (San Gabriel Valley Chapter), Regent of Loyola Marymount University, Trustee of La Salle High School in Pasadena, and President of the San Gabriel Valley Council, Boy Scouts of America in Los Angeles.”
“Croatia will be getting, as a ninth American ambassador, a non-career diplomat, while all until now have been professionals. And this is the first case in which an ambassador will be leaving before their mandate is through (Lawrence G. Rossin’s appointment lasted only two years but he was withdrawn to a higher position in the State Department). This is, in any case, an unusual step. It is not unusual for presidents to appoint individuals who assisted their campaign, in particular financially, to important diplomatic positions. Similarly, George W. Bush appointed a Texan horse breeder to London. Nevertheless, Croatia was not one of those cases until now.”
Feature image source credit: By Michael Vadon (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons