About Ex-US Ambassador Noah Mamet:
When W. Averell Harriman worked for the United States’ Foreign Service it was done to help his country.
US President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked him to serve in Russia because Roosevelt knew Harriman maneuvered well there.
Harriman’s work contributed to fundamental US foreign policy – along then with George F. Kennan – and might have prevented catastrophes.
He worked in Russia as service to the world, not at all to create a business for himself.
On the other hand, some diplomatic appointees are evidently given ambassadorships by the president of the United States as thank-you’s for fundraising.
In many cases the appointees may not even know much about the countries to which they are to be posted.
This can be an embarrassment, as in the cases mentioned in the above Washington Post article, which included appointees to Hungary, Norway, and here, Argentina, with Noah B. Mamet (apparently no relation to David Mamet the playwright).
Each of these gathered over $500,000 for a US presidential campaign, I guess, and as a reward given the opportunity to be an ambassador.
On a side, but not unrelated note, I’ve known a couple US ambassadors, one was a fundraising type, like those above, & I understand there is precious little training involved for them. This might seem ludicrous, that the supposed highest representation of the US government on foreign soil has perhaps done nothing more in official preparation than attend so-called “charm school” in Foggy Bottom, but somehow it’s always worked. I’m not entirely well versed, but this is what I’ve heard.
Nothing strange has ever happened, and there have been no tragedies, is the thought. No one’s done a study of this, I suppose, so there’s no telling.
However, something awkward happened with the second-to-last posting of Argentine ambassador from the United States, Noah Mamet, in that he opened up an office in the country he was posted mere months after leaving the post. This can cause grave conflicts of interest.
Also, Mamet publicly said the following before leaving his posting: in which he says he would be “dividing his time between the two countries” and, he also wrote the following published in the Argentine daily Clarin, and posted on a US Government website, that he intended “…to continue living and working in my adopted Argentina.”
This would all seem fine, except I think it is not..
Here are a couple reasons why I have this opinion:
- International relations, generally.
- Conflict of interest, generally.
I was casually introduced to Noah Mamet after the last president of the United States nominated him. I called Andrew Tobias, the former Treasurer of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) the day I heard the news, and later Andy sent emails.
When I first called Andy about the news, he replied, “I love Noah..” and told me to do a “Google Alert” and to keep in touch for the possible unfolding.
Well, I thought Noah was going to be like Andy, one of the finest people one could know on the US political scene. As background on him, when Laurence Tisch bought Lorillard, a cigarette manufacturer – Andy, a staunch cigarette opponent — hired a plane with a banner to fly along the snappy New York, Long Island coast, which read “Larry Tisch sells cancer sticks” in high season.
As a result of Andy’s hearty response to my telling him Noah had been nominated I naturally assumed an Ambassador Mamet was going to be like an Andy, someone concerned with human health, and proper, and so I was very open with the nominee, frequently sending the nominee information, such as about US embassy goings-on, to help him land, well, here in Argentina.
Boy, was I disappointed.
First, when he got here, I noticed how Ambassador Mamet apparently used the US Embassy residence for numerous parties, where he seems to have been made a focus of attention, and/or his home state California, and/or home city, Los Angeles.
In fact, when I saw the US Embassy Flickr account for the July 4th, 2015 celebration I was mildly shocked to see what might have been the ambassador’s beach in California as a special scene for the Independence Day festivities. (I read once the branch of the family from which I come had the largest number of soldiers – 250, or so — in the Revolutionary War against the British, & I don’t think it would occur to me to make a party featuring them, or Massachusetts, for Independence Day. I hope I wouldn’t.)
It seemed somewhat clear US Embassy Buenos Aires was used to support the fundraiser Noah Mamet, now ambassador’s personal promotion. The cases are numerous of an apparent planned public relations campaign for him on Argentine soil, as well as special emphasis for his own state of California and city, Los Angeles, too.
Apart from geopolitical problems, another which can occur, obviously, is that among constituents, like me, or anybody else concerned about humanity, when the possible personal-cum-business aims of a political-appointed (or any) ambassador are apparently so high.
Here is the most recent letter to President Macri on the topic. It is in Spanish, there is a version in English there as well.
This is a no-brainer, the cause Carrasco Compass. It’s for sane use of agrochemicals. Nothing else. Please, read the letter, if you like. (It is not politically affiliated; nor does it seek donations.)
I took it upon myself to interview a retired attorney from the California Pesticide (mis-named, as many fitosanitarios – like glyphosate – are actually herbicides), for example, to help Argentina. (Very interesting, I might add, the conversation I had with the person from the US State of California, from Sacramento.)
Much research went into this.
Then-Ambassador Noah Mamet could have helped, clearly.
He has occasionally stated that during his tenure at the US Embassy Buenos Aires the large number of US agencies he brought to visit here, in Argentina.
However, when I met Frank Talluto – the Environment, Science, Technology & Health Officer – for the US Embassy Buenos Aires during Mamet’s tenure, I felt Talluto refused to help, so to help the US embassy help the people of Argentina look for solutions to the agrochemical scourge.
This was soft power wasted, during the tenure of Barack Obama’s second ambassador to here. They seemed to turn a blind eye at the US Embassy. Indeed, Talutto joked the people in Chaco are said to be born with an eye in the middle of their head when he and I first met. He didn’t yet know I wasn’t an employee of a conglomerate.
Curiously, speaking of “conflict of interest” possibilities, I know one of Mamet’s partners in a fund, and who is said to be one of Argentina’s largest farmers. He has told me – personally – & after several conversations, he is not sure of the efficacy of controls, which is myopic of him. (See video). Stupid, in fact, is this man’s opinion about this. He is misinformed and/or just a bit greedy.
This is a cockamamie situation: A past US ambassador, after so soon leaving his post, being partner with a huge grower from his “host country” in an investment fund.
Beyond this are too many examples about which I can’t possibly ever know, obviously. However, I do know after his tenure he has built up various board memberships, and alliances galore, and that he apparently charges commissions for introductions, somehow.
I know of at least one startup – entrepreneur – with whom a Noah Mamet assistant met at the Pony Bar in the Four Seasons in Buenos Aires to sign a contract.
..I can’t write any more.
We know this is unethical, don’t we?
One thing I heard from one of the ex ambassadors is: “The first and last rule in being a diplomat is not to make personal gain part of the appointment.”
PS. Below is Andy Tobias’ and my penultimate email correspondence – October 2018 – on this matter. His email address is not hidden, as it was hacked (by the Russians?) in the last election and open anyhow. We have emailed on this subject more recently, too.
Thanks, Chris. I hope you prevail. Your cause is obviously worthy!
I’m not sure, but if you’re wondering why the ex ambassador never took up any kind of follow through with me after your intro to me, …again, I’m not sure, but several emails were sent to him by me of apparent corruption, if not certain unethical behavior I knew there prior to his job, in the months after your kind introduction.
He should have had “my number” – known what I’m about – after those, one would suppose.
I thought he was going to be like Andy, or so; a good guy overall, so I spilled the beans to help him get advanced info of goings-on at the Embassy campus.
Just to help him out.
Christopher E. Carpenter