When Al Gore was in Saudi Arabia and criticized the U.S. government’s policy towards American Arabs after 9/11, he was pilloried in the conservative press. When Eric Cantor criticized American foreign policy towards Israel while he was in Israel, the left-wing blogosphere was similarly outraged.
Now Queens G.O.P. councilman Dan Halloran has waded in to these murky waters. Earlier this month, he traveled to Bulgaria on a trip sponsored by the Order, Law and Justice Party, a right-of-center political party there. And, according to a report in a local Queens paper, he met there with the American ambassador James Warlick, whom he criticized as having too close a relationship with the ruling Bulgarian government.
“The ambassador has been very open in the press about supporting one particular party, the dominant party,” even though, said Halloran, the nation’s prime minister was a bodyguard to Bulgaria’s last Communist dictator. “You tell me how pro-democracy this guy is going to be.”
Halloran said that there was a distinction between criticizing the Ambassador as a person, and criticizing American foreign policy, although he did acknowledge that Warlick could be following the administration’s dictates.
He said that Warlick had even appeared on a Bulgarian soap opera, in a show supportive of the regime there.
“Anytime you have a government representative compromising the duty of the office by acting in an inappropriate manner, we have an obligation to speak out, and protocol does not abridge or change the right of American citizens to level criticism against their government,” he said.
He accused the Obama administration of being “naive” in their foreign policy and said they had struggled to form alliances with post-communist nations.
Halloran also said that he wanted to make clear the distinctions between Republican and Democratic foreign policy, and added that what he found in Bulgaria was encouraging for a Republican politician: a nation that reveres Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher and that was yearning to throw off the bonds of its Communist past.
“I regard our foreign policy as really important, but it is not as important as freedom of the press and freedom of speech,” he said. “The beauty of living in a democracy where freedom of speech is respected is my ability to do just that.”