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Thursday, February 9, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Let’s start with a simple question: Is it OK for a United States ambassador to blackmail one political party in order to give an advantage to another party — in a foreign country?


Let’s take it a step further. Is it OK for a U.S. ambassador to dictate policy to the government of a foreign country, under the threat of “consequences,” if that government doesn’t follow his dictates? Is it acceptable for a U.S. ambassador to push the agenda of a certain Hungarian-American billionaire and the organizations he funds, and not the interests of the U.S. government, interests that include an open democratic process and the ability of the foreign government’s institutions to carry out their mandated duties?

What if I told you that the prime minister of that country attended liberal billionaire George Soros’ wedding? What if I told you that Mr. Soros has been supporting a government in Albania that critics say has profited from a raging drug trade that is killing thousands of people across Europe? What if this U.S. ambassador was seen to be attempting to shut down the investigation of one of the largest companies in Albania while preaching about the need to take a stand against official corruption?

It all started a few weeks ago in small Balkan nation, where an effort to overhaul the nation’s judicial system is underway. U.S. Ambassador Donald Lu, working with the Soros-backed party in power, canceled U.S. visas for approximately 70 members of the opposition Democratic Party, who were up for vetting to be named as judicial officials in the country. This blatantly partisan and undemocratic action threw the country into a political crisis.

In a statement, the U.S. Embassy in Tirana confirmed it had “revoked the non-immigrant visas of several Albanian judges and prosecutors after determining that the officials no longer qualify for these visas. Because visa records are confidential under U.S. law, we cannot comment on individual cases. The U.S. Embassy took this action in advance of the upcoming vetting process that will assess certain officials’ ties to corruption.”

What the statement doesn’t say is that none of the affected individuals was from the ruling Socialist Party of Prime Minister Edi Rama. In short, the U.S. government’s envoy is now using strongman tactics to make the Albanian judicial system captive to the party that is getting rich off the drug trade and is supported by Mr. Soros’ Open Society Initiative, which calls for the legalization of drugs.

The Albanian prosecutor’s office reacted angrily, releasing a statement that said in part, “The Prosecution General would like to make it clear to Mr. Lu that if he’s used to being a lord in Albanian politics, he cannot do this with the prosecution. Mr. Lu thinks that he has the fate of the prosecution in his hand when he blackmails this institution in order to close investigations or by revoking visas.”

The statement said the ambassador’s moves were “typical Soros, aiming at manipulating public opinion and depreciating institutions.”

Any move by a U.S. diplomat meant to support only one party over another in a foreign country is anti-democratic, un-American and inconsistent with what the United States stands for. Creating a captive justice system for one party is the exact opposite of what was intended by Albania’s judicial reforms.

Here’s the big picture: There are covert sympathizers in the post-Obama State Department who are pushing a secret agenda that is anti-Republican and/or anti-Donald Trump. And some are now coming into the open: Some 1,000 diplomats recently signed a “dissent memo” against Mr. Trump’s temporary immigration curbs. These people have no problem canceling visas for those opposing their neo-Marxist policies overseas but will readily turn a blind eye to the misdeeds of, say, the Iranian regime, Hamas, or the Palestinian Authority.

Mr. Lu is destabilizing Albania by picking winners and losers in that country’s political disputes. Mr. Rama’s ties with Mr. Soros put the billionaire’s civil society nonsense over concerns about security and an independent judiciary.

The U.S. has until now staunchly sided with the ruling Socialist Party, polarizing this small but important Adriatic country. Albania is Muslim but secular. It is the only other Muslim country in NATO after Turkey and it is a candidate to join the European Union.

As Mr. Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson clean out the Augean stables in Foggy Bottom, it is worth examining Mr. Lu’s partisanship and whether it’s in sync with Mr. Trump’s “Make America Great Again” foreign policy.

L. Todd Wood is a former special operations helicopter pilot and Wall Street debt trader, and has contributed to Fox Business, The Moscow Times, National Review, the New York Post and many other publications. He can be reached through his website, LToddWood.com.


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