It is easy to see why President Obama might want retired General Scott Gration as Ambassador to Kenya for the 2012 presidential campaigns in both the U.S. and Kenya. Gration served as a campaign military and foreign policy advisor to Senator Obama in 2008 and spoke out against allegations from the U.S. hard right that Obama played some nefarious role as a secret supporter of Islamic terrorism in respect to Raila Odinga and the 2007 election in Kenya. Gration became acquainted with Obama through accompanying him on his visit as a Senator to Kenya in 2006.
Gration has enhanced credentials as both a retired air force major general and the son of missionaries who grew up in Congo and in Kenya and speaks Swahili. He has said that he was a Republican prior to the 2008 campaign.
Here is Gration’s October 17, 2008 letter to the Washington Times:
Mark Hyman’s “Obama’s Kenya ghosts,” (Commentary, Sunday), was a disgraceful smear on Sen. Barack Obama. Because I accompanied Mr. Obama on his trip to Kenya, I can say unequivocally that Mr. Hyman’s piece was filled with lies and innuendo.
• Mr. Obama’s 2006 trip to Kenya was authorized by the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who congratulated Mr. Obama on a successful trip when he returned.
• Mr. Obama did not “campaign” on behalf of Raila Odinga, has never endorsed him, and was not “nearly inseparable” from Mr. Odinga during his time in Kenya. Mr. Obama met with a wide range of Kenyan and American officials, including a Nobel Prize winner, human-rights defenders, and President Mwai Kibaki. He did not have a single scheduled meeting with Mr. Odinga.
• Mr. Obama was accompanied throughout his trip by myself and two other active-duty U.S. military officers; and the U.S. ambassador attended meetings and events throughout the trip. The Obama staffer – Mark Lippert – that Mr. Hynes names is a naval reservist and Iraq War veteran whose deployment began several months before the Kenyan elections and continued well past it.
• The Obama speech that Mr. Hyman references was a widely praised effort that condemned corruption and tribalism while urging the promotion of private enterprise and accountable, transparent government.
• Mr. Obama and Mr. Odinga are not cousins, and efforts to assert otherwise have been described as “stretched to the point of ridiculousness” by an independent fact checker.
Mr. Hyman references telephone contacts that Mr. Obama had with Mr. Odinga in January. He fails to mention that those contacts were encouraged by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and were accompanied by public statements that Mr. Obama made on Voice of America, Kenyan radio, and in a Kenyan newspaper, calling for calm and a peaceful resolution of Kenya’s political crisis. Repeatedly, Mr. Obama asserted, “the opposition (led by Mr. Odinga) must turn away from the path of mass protest and violence in seeking participation in government.”
Mr. Hyman’s piece concludes with an astonishing attempt to tie Mr. Odinga, the sitting prime minister of Kenya, and, by absurd association, Mr. Obama to acts of terrorism committed against the United States of America. This false and outrageous charge says a lot more about Mark Hyman than it says about Barack Obama.
Given the partisan crossfire from Washington and elsewhere in the U.S. on the Kenyan constitutional referendum, and the partisan crossfire over the 2007-08 Kenyan election crisis, it is hard to imagine that there will not be the same type of attacks on both Obama and Odinga from from the U.S. in the 2012 campaigns.