Who Scores the Best Embassies? Political Donors vs. Foreign Service Officers, in a Chart.

Eric Posner weighs in.
Feb. 18 2014 1:23 PM

Who Scores the Best Embassies?

Political donors vs. Foreign Service officers, in a chart.

If you are trying to line up a plum appointment abroad, are you better off diligently plugging away in the Foreign Service, or making a sizable donation to the president or other members of his party? The graph below shows that money wins, hands down.

International Living is a website that ranks countries by how nice they are. The vertical axis on the graph below shows a country’s score from zero (worst) to 100 (best).* The horizontal axis tracks contributions to the campaigns of Democrats, including President Obama, from 2008 to 2012.  As recently noted in Slate,"[t]wenty-four bundlers, headed mostly to Western Europe, have collectively raised at least $16.9 million for Obama since 2007." The dots are U.S. ambassadors, confirmed or nominated. As you can see, career Foreign Service officers are rewarded for their hard work and probity with posts in the most disagreeable countries in the world. Political donors—many if not most of whom lack Foreign Service experience—snap up the nicest countries. The best that can be said is that Obama (like presidents before him) has appointed competent people to countries that could use their help, and fat cats to countries that are least likely to collapse in anarchy while the U.S. ambassador is out hunting grouse.

*For clarity, I expanded the range of index scores for the countries used in the graph from 3476 to zero100.


Eric Posner, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, is author of The Twilight of International Human Rights Law. Follow him on Twitter.



Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 1 2014 12:20 PM Don’t Expect Hong Kong’s Protests to Spread to the Mainland
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?