Obama Selling Ambassadorships at $1.8 Million a Pop

70 to 85 percent of US ambassadors in vital parts of the world are Obama donors.

Spot the difference Spot the difference

Unemployment is a real problem in America. And Obama has found the solution. He's offering ambassadorships for a bargain price of 1.8 mil each.

Don't have a job? Want to have an important position in London or Rome that will get you invited to free dinners and important events with top government officials? Just mail at least $1,800,000 to "Barack Obama/Organizing for Action 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue" and you will receive your prominent diplomatic posting in 6-8 weeks.

Who says Obama isn't creating jobs?

Barack Obama has rewarded some of his most active campaign donors with plum jobs in foreign embassies, with the average amount raised by recent or imminent appointees soaring to $1.8m per post, according to a Guardian analysis.

State Department veterans are increasingly concerned about the size of donations raised by political supporters who go on to take up top foreign postings. Thomas Pickering, who recently led the investigation into lethal attacks on the US embassy in Libya and represented the US at the United Nations, claimed the practice had become nothing more than "simony" – the selling of public office.

"It has the effect of diminishing perhaps the sense that the US is treating these countries with the respect they deserve," Pickering said.

Susan Johnson, president of the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), which represents career US diplomats, added: "The giving of ambassadorships to people who have raised a lot of money for the campaign has increased and that's a concern to us in particular.

"There was some thought that with Obama being such a 'change agent' that he might really do things differently – but it has just been a bigger let down."

I assume we're not supposed to roll our eyes at this.

The 16th century Villa Taverna in Rome has just gone to John Phillips, a Washington lawyer who raised at least $500,000. John Emerson, a Los Angeles fund manger, will get to meet future contacts as ambassador to Germany after he raised $1.5m. Jane Stetson, heiress to the IBM fortune, is tipped as frontrunner for Paris after she raised $2.4m for Obama.

In total, nine sought-after postings in Europe, the Caribbean or Asia have been given to major donors in recent weeks, with a further three in France, Switzerland and Hungary earmarked to come soon. Of these 12, the precise bundling data is available for 10. According to a Guardian analysis, using the figures leaked to the New York Times, the average amount raised by each donor is $1.79m.

Fortunately we have no vital interests in distant places like England, France or Germany that require us to have professional diplomats posted there. Instead like some dirty Third World kleptocracy, our "ambassadors" are crooks and pedophiles (see Belgium) who paid enough money to the head warlord to be able to spend their time in a posh mansion at government expense.

he percentage of ambassador posts given to political appointees rather than career diplomats has remained roughly steady under Obama at around 30%, but most of these are in parts of the world unattractive to wealthy donors. The share taken by political appointees in western Europe and wealthier Asian capitals has reached between 70% and 85%, the AFSA estimates.

70 to 85 percent of our ambassadors in vital parts of the world are Obama donors.

Many of the capitals have grown resigned to the process. "All that really matters is that the ambassador is close to the White House – and his top fundraiser usually is," said one British diplomat, speaking anonymously about Barzun's appointment.

But to State Department veterans, the notion that only fundraisers can get messages through the West Wing is even more alarming. "To some extent, this question of having the ear of the president, and who has it, shows the seriousness of the issue," said Ambassador Pickering.

Why would Obama listen to anyone who doesn't give him cold hard cash?

The Foreign Service Act of 1980, states that "contributions to political campaigns should not be a factor in the appointment of an individual as a chief of mission."

But you know, it's Obama. He doesn't follow laws. Laws are for little people who can't afford to give him $1.8 million.

The White House insists all its ambassadors are well qualified, regardless of their campaign history. "I am proud that such experienced and committed individuals have agreed to serve the American people in these important roles," said Obama in a statement issued with Barzun's appointment.

That's the punchline. Now you can laugh.