Letter to the Editor:
July 11, 2019
Re: Martin Kettle, ‘Kim Darroch has resigned. Now Britain risks becoming a vassal of the US’ The Guardian (10 July 2019, 18.29 BST),
Martin Kettle quotes British diplomatic officials as stating that there is no precedent for what Trump has done—in seeking to have Kim Darroch removed from his post as the UK’s ambassador to the United States. Kettle and the diplomatic officials he quotes are simply mistaken. It is common practice for countries to deny granting consent and also to withdraw consent once granted in regard to the presence of foreign diplomatic officials who are not—or who are no longer—wanted. It is so common that it has been codified as established practice by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961). Article 9 provides:
The receiving State may at any time and without having to explain its decision, notify the sending State that the head of the mission or any member of the diplomatic staff of the mission is persona non grata or that any other member of the staff of the mission is not acceptable. In any such case, the sending State shall, as appropriate, either recall the person concerned or terminate his functions with the mission. A person may be declared non grata or not acceptable before arriving in the territory of the receiving State.
Historically, the most famous such case was when the Pope refused to grant credentials to the ambassador designated by the German Empire. See Otto von Bismarck, ‘The Canossa Speech’ (1872), in 7 Francis W. Halsey & William Jennings Bryan (eds), The World’s Famous Orations (Funk & Wagnalls Co. 1906) 243, <https://www.bartleby.com/268/7/48.html>.
Again, what Trump has done is not exceptional in the least.
Seth Barrett Tillman, Letter to the Editor, ‘Britain hasn’t got much out of the special relationship for a long time,’ The Guardian, July 11, 2019, 18:22 BST, <https://tinyurl.com/yyzkhhc4>.
Seth Barrett Tillman, Trump, the UK, and Ambassador Kim Darroch, New Reform Club (July 11, 2019, 5:02 AM), <https://reformclub.blogspot.com/2019/07/trump-uk-and-ambassador-kim-darroch.html>.