Feature

The ambassador who bought his way here.

The week's news at a glance.

Netherlands

EditorialNRC Handelsblad

The Netherlands should be used to American disdain by now, said Amsterdam’s NRC Handelsblad in an editorial. We’ve given up expecting any U.S. ambassador to speak even rudimentary Dutch. Yet it’s still disappointing that, once again, the new U.S. envoy has “no diplomatic experience whatsoever.” Instead, he has money. Roland E. Arnall is a billionaire who is majority stakeholder in Ameriquest, a giant mortgage company. His confirmation as ambassador was held up for months because of allegations that his company had engaged in unfair lending practices; the company eventually paid $325 million to settle the claims. In many countries, a businessman with such a past would not be selected to represent the government abroad. But Arnall donated $12 million to the Bush campaign. That’s a hefty amount “even by American standards.” So Arnall is on his way to the Netherlands. Preliminary reports say he “lacks both the language and the bearing of a diplomat.” Let’s hope he can learn.

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