Trump chooses envoy to Norway

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US President Donald Trump has announced that he intends to nominate a retired rear admiral who now works for a health care strategy company as his ambassador to Norway. One Norwegian commentator called Trump’s choice of Kenneth Braithwaite “surprising.”

This photo of Kenneth Braithwaite was released by the US Navy when he served cake during a “Navy Day” celebration in Boston. PHOTO: US Nany

The White House offered no reason for the choice in its official statement but described Braithwaite as a “distinguished 27-year veteran of the US Navy and US Navy Reserve.” He’s a graduate of the US Naval Academy, has pilot wings as a naval aviator and holds a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Braithwaite now works as a group senior vice president for Vizient, described as a “health care strategy and performance improvement company.”

The press release issued by the White House stated that Braithwaite completed his military service in 2011 as the Navy’s Vice Chief of Information. Prior to that post, he served as Commanding Officer for the Joint Forces Command in Pakistan, as “the overall director of strategic communications supporting work of the American Embassy.”

Thor Steinhovden, a commentator for TV2, called Trump’s choice of ambassador “surprising,” because of expectations Trump would send someone to Norway with a broader background in business. “But in today’s situation with an aggressive Russia (as Norway’s neighbour), it may calm many to know he has a solid background in military cooperation,” Steinhovden said.

Kenneth Braithwaite PHOTO: US Navy

He noted that Braithwaite, who was a member of Trump’s transition team, is not a controversial candidate, but predicted Braithwaite will have a hard time selling Trump’s politics in Norway. “It was no dance on roses when (George W) Bush was president, either,” said Steinhovden, who worked in the US Embassy in Oslo when Barry White was ambassador for former US President Barack Obama. “But Braithwaite will probably be one of the (new) ambassadors with the toughest job to defend the president as a person and the US’ politics.”

Braithwaite’s work in communications will likely come in handy in his new job in Oslo. It remains unclear when he may arrive, because his nomination first must be approved in the US Congress.

The US ambassador’s post in Oslo has been vacant since Obama’s last ambassador, Sam Heins, resigned and left Norway even before Trump was sworn in last January. Jim DeHart, a career diplomat, has been serving as chargé d’affaires, ever since, filling the top embassy post when no ambassador is present. Berglund