Thomas Crampton

Next Beta: Social Media's Evolution, Globally

Possible Obama Ambassadors to Japan and China

Jan 10, 2009

Chris Nelson of Samuels International offers the latest speculation in Washington about Obama’s Ambassadorships to Tokyo and Beijing.

He suggests Bob Rubin??!! who recently quit Citi.

Anyone have further thoughts?

On Monday, we inadvertently started a Japanese media feeding frenzy on who will be Obama’s Ambassador to Tokyo, with a one line comment, “think Joe Nye“.

Last night we noted that Nye himself was being equivocal on whether he was being asked, and whether he would say yes.

Today, there’s a report saying newly-retired Republican Sen. (and big Obama booster) Chuck Hagel, is on the list for Japan.

He isn’t. Tonite, we can supply the answer to some of the “facts”, and more importantly, how to assess the “ambassadorial” reports.


AMBASSADORS…there are lists, and there are lists. The only lists which really have been
discussed and vetted at the Obama level are of Major Players, in quotes, for whom a Big Job simply HAS to be found, Transition sources make very clear in private conversation.

So when someone tells you so-and-so is on the list for Tokyo, Beijing, London, et al, ask yourself whether they qualify on the basis of a “must hire” senior player…or because those are important postings, and someone important should be picked.

So…Chuck Hagel, Richard DanzigSusan Rice, maybe even Robert Rubin (who formally quit Citi today)…folks like that are talked about at the Obama Himself level.

These are people personally important to Obama, about whom the question is raised by Obama and his top decision-makers, “what do we offer them?”

What is NOT (yet) taking place at the Obama level is “who are we going to put in country-X”?

Of course there ARE conversations at the senior affected Transition level, sounding out potential candidates for key postings, and that of course includes Beijing, Tokyo, NATO and so forth.

What this means is that after the election, and through this week, conversations at the Obama level were held with folks like Hagel, to be specific, in terms of “what would you like?”

And the conversation included a possible list of jobs, including ambassadorships which Hagel might accept, along with other things.

Our sources say (and New America Foundation blogmeister Steve Clemons reports today) that Hagel politely declined the opportunity to serve in Beijing, Tokyo and London, because he didn’t want to uproot his family, and because he has just launched a new venture with former World Bank president James Wolfensohn.


JAPAN…Beijing…as noted, we inadvertently started a media feeding frenzy on who Obama will pick for Tokyo, and there’s starting to be one, now, for Beijing.

The “story” on professor and co-author with Rich Armitage of the Nye-Armitage Report of
2000…Harvard’s Joe Nye…has been on a roller coaster all week.

The informed consensus today is that with Hagel (above) clearly saying “thanks, but no thanks” to any ambassadorial slot, the path remains potentially open for Nye IF the Obama folks (with Hillary Clinton’s team playing a role) chose.

It seems clear that informal discussions have been held with Nye, at some level, and that the situation today is that Nye hasn’t said yes, and he hasn’t said no.

However, a cautionary note when you get into discussing “who’s on The List”, and you are not at the Danzig/Rice/Hagel level…the discussion will be more focused on the posting, and the utility of the candidate TO the posting, than on the candidate, and where can he/she be placed?

So, purely for the sake of discussion, while to us Asia/Japan hands, Joe Nye clearly is a nifty choice to send to Japan, for reasons we need not bother to enumerate…ask yourself what happens if Obama and his top people have been asking themselves, “what do we do for Robert Rubin?”

Rubin, who played a major “confidence building” role for Obama’s economic and financial positioning, during the Campaign, formally resigned from Citi today…and there are those who closely monitor the Transiton who say you need to put Rubin on any list for both Tokyo and Beijing.

Our point: make sure you can balance the candidate with the job, and can calculate which is the critical decision-factor, when weighing all the delicious gossip now flowing freely.

And always remember, shocking as it may seem, some folks are, gasp, actually ambitious enough to float rumors about themselves. So always ask yourself why you are hearing what you are hearing, when you hear it.

Still my beating heart…

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Mark Ndesandjo

Mark Ndesandjo
About: _Mark Ndesandjo is president Barack Obama\'s half-brother who lives in Shenzhen, teaches piano at an orphanage and runs an Internet company, World Nex... [Learn more]


Trackback URL for this post:

View Comments for “Possible Obama Ambassadors to Japan and China”

  • williamhowell

    Sir, I viewed your appearance on Larry King Live tonight, 11-7-09 and I don't know if I should be more disturbed by your bitter childhooh experiences or the disconected, incoherent and bumbling performance.
    You may be able to deal with the tragedy of your youth, but you cannot change the past. Hopefully, in you will find a way to present an coheisive interview in the future.

  • db

    unless one of these guys secretly has a police record for protesting at anti-WTO rallies or practices a certain type of chi gong group exercise every morning, i don't see the hot gossip. none of these guys are about new ideas, they're just clintonite technocrats that obama that obama has to co-opt as 'voices of experience.' the obama approach has advertised itself to be such a radical departure from the bush doctrine that it'll be nothing short of disappointing if all we get is some encore presentation of clinton policy.

blog comments powered by Disqus