John Kerry has assembled a three-person team to lead the State Department’s efforts against ISIS. Two of the members — Gen. John Allen and Brett McGurk — seem unobjectionable. The third, Anne Patterson, is another matter.
In announcing her central role, Kerry praised Patterson as “one of our nation’s top diplomats deeply respected in the region.” But Patterson is not respected in Egypt, where she served as ambassador during the period when the Muslim Brotherhood was in power.
Bridget Johnson at PJ Media reminds us that Patterson stood firmly behind the Brotherhood as it persecuted opponents and attempted to consolidate its rule. Consequently, she was reviled by the Brotherhood’s opponents to the point that, according to Johnson, when she left her post Egyptians partied outside the U.S. Embassy in a “good riddance” celebration.
Some of the allegations against Patterson seem baseless. Indeed, the story by Al-Ahram newspaper accusing her of conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood to smuggle fighters in from Gaza to “spread chaos” in the country is surely ridiculous.
But there is little doubt that Patterson was tight with the Morsi regime. A picture of her smiling and laughing at a meeting with Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie became a staple at anti-government protests.
Patterson was only following President Obama’s pro-Brotherhood line, though. She was rewarded with a promotion to assistant secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs.
Patterson has not distinguished herself in that role. According to Johnson, members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee concluded, based on briefings from Johnson, that she and the administration she represents had no handle on the emerging threat posed by ISIS. While she spoke in platitudes about countering ISIS using “diplomacy and development” and by “strengthening our business and people-to-people ties,” the terrorists were rampaging through Iraq and establishing their caliphate.
Patterson has been equally clueless on the subject of Libya. Johnson reports that last week, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen recalled in a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing that in June Patterson told lawmakers she was “optimistic that the elections in Libya, which were the third in less than two years, would be an important step forward toward Libya’s stability.”
Elections, development, and people-to-people ties. All that’s missing from Patterson’s arsenal is a wet noodle.
Patterson may be a respected figure within the Obama administration circles, but Kerry’s claim that she is “deeply respected” in the Middle East doesn’t pass the straight face test. In that sense, she is the perfect point-person for Team Obama’s unserious strategy to combat ISIS.