Jon Huntsman Jr. advances through confirmation hearings

09/27/2017 - SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) To talk about what Jon Huntsman Jr's advancing through confirmation, Janey Top-Kauffman, who teaches National Security at Utah Valley University joined Good Morning Utah with Brian Carlson.

On September 19th Jon Huntsman went before the Senate for his confirmation hearing. The nomination is receiving praise and approval from both sides of the aisle. At his hearing last week, he was praised for his diplomatic skills and his wide range of experience in the international arena.

With Russia being a nuclear superpower and a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Huntsman acknowledged that, "our relationship with Russia is among the most consequential and complex foreign policy challenges we face." He additionally accused Russia of threatening stability in Europe and violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighbors, namely Ukraine.

Huntsman has come up with four objectives to navigate these complicated relations.

Objective 1: To engage Russian officials from the highest levels to the local level to find areas where the two countries can cooperate, such as Syria, arms control, and counterterrorism.

Objective 2: People to people exchanges to facilitate dialogue and mutual understanding.

Objective 3: Learn more about Russian culture by meeting with average citizens and in so doing spread the message of American values.

Objective 4: To work to ensure the safety and security of the American diplomatic staff, who have in recent years been harassed by the media and nationalist youth groups.

Unlike Trump, who has tip-toed around the matter of Russia's meddling in the 2016 election, Huntsman came out with a definitive stance on the matter, emphasizing that "There is no question, underline no question, that the Russian government interfered in the U.S. election last year."

Huntsman will begin his post at a time when US-Relations are at an all-time low. US and Russia have been engaged in a political game of tit for tat since the US expelled 35 Russian diplomats and seized two Russian diplomatic compounds in response to Russia's election meddling. Russia, in response, cut US diplomatic staff by 300 positions, which was then met with the US closing the Russian consulate in San Francisco.

Although an ambassador's job is to be hopeful about relations, the execution of many of Huntsman's objectives will prove difficult. Many Russian politicians will be reluctant to engage with the ambassador, for fear of being accused of kowtowing to the west. Furthermore, the state-owned and controlled media will most likely distort any of Huntsman's attempts to reach out to the Russian people.

Huntsman will take his post amidst the buildup to Russia's 2018 presidential elections, in which Putin is expected to be elected for a fourth term. Russia will probably blame any protests or disruptions to this process on the Americans, as they have been wont to do in the past.

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