RMI-U.S. Relations: A Case of Tomeing Poisoning?

Is there an RMI Foreign Ministry strategy to discredit U.S. Ambassador Clyde Bishop, by suggesting he is ineffective in the diplomatic consultation process and insensitive to Marshallese custom?   The current RMI Foreign Minister was architect of similar strategy in the past (see menu in upper right of Home page for link to “Selected Topics from Archives” on deBrum-Abramoff plan to discredit former U.S. Ambassador Plaisted), so many in Majuro and Washington are wondering:  What is behind the recent Marshall Islands Journal report of Tomeing giving a “friendly” lecture to Bishop, in a way that some observers perceived as unkind and unfair to Bishop, at least as the meeting was reported in the MIJ.  


If the meeting was as reported in the MIJ, is President Tomeing involved in an attempt to belittle Bishop, or is it a Foreign Ministry initiative?   Does it have anything to do with the U.S. exercise of its diplomatic discretion, by deciding not to receive the RMI’s designee for its ambassador to the U.S. because he is a U.S. citizen?   Is the goal to poison RMI-U.S. relations, in furtherance of the clumsy public threats by Tomeing and RMI High Chief Imata Kabua, reported in Pacific Islands Magazine and the Marshall Islands Journal, to turn the U.S. base at Kwajalein over to China, or the “highest bidder?”   Or, is the MIJ report, depicting a cleverly framed but politically pointed Tomeing admonition to Bishop, just for domestic consumption in RMI, in an attempt to make it appear the RMI is standing up to U.S. and being strong?  Is this damage control because the current RMI administration in Majuro has painted itself into a corner over Kwajalein base rights, the energy crisis, and other issues?  


All these questions come at a bad time for the Tomeing administration, following the reports that representatives of some of the world’s poorest nations in Africa and other regions, even the Pacific, were publicly supportive in a diplomatic way, but also privately less than enthusiastic, after RMI U.N. representative Phillip Muller’s speech to the General Assembly on RMI energy and economic crisis.   Some nations with per capita gross national product less than a fraction of what the RMI has enjoyed under Compact of Free Association with the USA found Muller’s speech “less than compelling.”   


The energy, environmental, food supply, water supply, health care, human rights and economic challenges facing dozens of other countries are so much greater than those facing the RMI that many found Muller’s speech ironic in some respects.   One African diplomat said, “If they are so unhappy with free association and military bases they should see what life after the U.S. is like.   We all have compassion for impact of nuclear testing, which still needs to be more fully addressed by the USA, especially cancer screening and diagnosis in the RMI.  But when obesity and diabetes from too much rich food and sweets are also RMI national health problems, well, let’s just say that much poorer nations with starving populations have to put RMI demands for additional energy assistance and base payments into a realistic perspective.   All small nations with limited resources and a history of colonialism have a legacy of suffering that looms large in our identity, but we all have to face current realities and make good choices for our people.”    


See the blog posting that appears below this posting about the July 25 Marshall Islands Journal report on Tomeing meeting with U.S. Ambassador Clyde Bishop, and the “unmistakable message about diplomacy” that the RMI president supposedly delivered to the U.S. Ambassador.   Also, here is what another blog post has to say about the Tomeing-Bishop meeting report in the MIJ:


“What Tomeing and/or Bishop may think about their meeting really is not as interesting as the fact that the RMI Foreign Ministry appears to have provided the MIJ with a partial verbatim transcript of the discussion.  This enabled the MIJ to use actual quotations of Tomeing’s words selected by the RMI Foreign Ministry.    


On that basis the MIJ published the article portraying the meeting in terms that create an appearance Tomeing was admonishing the U.S. Ambassador to do a better job consulting bilaterally, and that failure of Bishop to do so was the reason for problems and failure of cooperation between the RMI and USA.  Is this another attempt to discredit the U.S. Ambassador?  Even if Tomeing was being sincere and had good intentions, the way the material was released by the RMI Foreign Ministry, and the MIJ report based on it, had a political message that cast the U.S. Ambassador and the U.S. in a bad light in the RMI political context.  


The MIJ article also does not reveal who wrote it.   That gives rise to the presumption that it was written by MIJ Editor Giff Johnson, and suggests that this was orchestrated by the RMI Foreign Ministry and the MIJ to put a political spin on the meeting.   


It leads one to wonder if there was a complete transcript or recording of the meeting given to the MIJ, or just the parts the Foreign Ministry wanted the MIJ to use?   Does the Foreign Ministry leak selected transcripts of a meeting to MIJ, or give them a complete record?   Does MIJ accept and use fragments of a meeting transcript censored by the RMI Foreign Ministry, without knowing the context of the quotations used in the published story?   Is that journalism or government propaganda?   Is that free press or press collaboration with government?


Are meetings between the RMI leaders and U.S. officials recorded, are transcripts made, is this done with the knowledge of all participants?   Are the authorized uses of meeting records agreed by the participants?  Is it consistent with diplomatic protocol for transcripts of a meeting to be used in the press in a selective manner?   Are such meetings and records thereof public?    Can the public get the complete record of the meeting?  Or, does the RMI Foreign Ministry release only the parts of the record that it selects?  Again, does MIJ accept that kind of government control of the information reported in the MIJ?  


Or, was the MIJ reporter present in the meetings to record what was said?   These are some of the questions that arise from analysis of the blog posting.”




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