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Patricia H. Kushlis
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As I read Peter Pomerantsev's recent book The Surreal Heart of the New Russia: Nothing is True and Everything is Possible: the Surreal Heart of the New Russia about his nine years as a producer of documentaries for Russian television after the end of the Cold War, I thought back on my own experiences in the country and wondered how much had actually changed. Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2015 at WhirledView
In October 1926 Philip Arnold Heseltine, composing under the nom de plume of Peter Warlock, wrote a set of six dances called "Capriol" based – likely loosely - on Renaissance dances from Thoinot Arbeau’s Orchesographie, a manual of Renaissance tunes also published the same year. Drawn to the study of Renaissance music himself as well as much drink and sex, Heseltine’s own life was certainly as bawdy and out of control as “Matachins” (The Sword Dance)” but perhaps also at times as soothing and smooth as “Pavane” and “Pieds en l’air.” Continue reading
Posted Dec 24, 2014 at WhirledView
By Patricia H Kushlis It’s been nearly four months since we asked the State Department to grant open and public access to its statistics - broken down by gender and race - regarding promotions in the Foreign Service in “What's... Continue reading
Posted Dec 12, 2014 at WhirledView
By Patricia H Kushlis CALAIS-ISTANBUL: All Aboard! I have long been an Agatha Christie fan, especially of her murder mysteries set in the Middle East. The Murder on the Orient Express, of course, is the classic - but rumors to... Continue reading
Posted Dec 2, 2014 at WhirledView
It must be very difficult to be a Russian public diplomacy officer working for the Kremlin's master chef these days. No I don’t mean a propagandist or a disinformation specialist – those officials are clearly having a field day thinking up and then propagating all sorts of wild fabrications. But public diplomacy is about government officials connecting with the people of another country in order to gain influence or at least understanding. To do so effectively means gaining trust – and trust comes from truth telling, not lying. Continue reading
Posted Nov 25, 2014 at WhirledView
I spent November 4 working as an election official at a precinct in a nearby Pueblo. the turnout was high, far higher than for the state and the nation as a whole, over 50% versus a statewide 37% and an even more dismal national average of 34%. What’s more, the precinct was heavily Democratic, and Democrats didn’t do themselves proud on turnout this year. So what made the difference? Why was the pueblo vote so high, and just how did these Native Americans vote? Did these registered Democrats desert the party? More important: what lessons can be learned that might be useful for the future? Anything here that could be implemented elsewhere? Continue reading
Posted Nov 17, 2014 at WhirledView
The Wall may have fallen in a matter of hours and shocked US Embassy officials and others in East Berlin and elsewhere - but the events and factors leading up to it had already been set in motion months, if not years before. Continue reading
Posted Nov 9, 2014 at WhirledView
Whether the “Hunt for Black October” as the most recent Russian submarine fiasco has been dubbed by FP turns out to resemble the comedic “Whiskey on the Rocks” episode or the Kursk’s tragic outcome remains to be seen. The best thing the Russians could do - if this is more than ahem, a chimera - is fess up, ask for assistance, take the crew and baby submarine home and leave a neutral neighbor’s territorial rocks and waters alone. Continue reading
Posted Oct 24, 2014 at WhirledView
They are an ethnic minority here. They don’t speak the local language. Once members of a proud empire, the demise of that great state has left them on the wrong side of the border. They want to redress this error, and their former nation has taken keen interest. This neighbor is led by a demagogue who won’t stop at anything to see them reconnected with his great nation. No one would be surprised if this were a description of the Russian separatist movements in Ukraine, backed by Vladimir Putin. In fact it’s a reference to the Sudetenland in 1938. The ethnic minority spoke German, wanted to separate from Czechoslovakia, and their champion was Adolph Hitler. Continue reading
Posted Oct 16, 2014 at WhirledView
The good news is that the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy has seemingly risen from the ashes – or more accurately been wrested from the clutches of a member of the US Congress who refused to vote for the pittance required to keep this small Commission afloat. The better news is that the resurrected Commission has begun to fulfill its mandate. . . .In short, "Data Driven Public Diplomacy" is a good report but future ones could be better. In the meantime, I hope that the renewed US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy is allowed to function as it should despite entrenched bureaucratic entities lined up against it and a polarized Congress. An independent authoritative voice on US public diplomacy is very much needed in these turbulent times. Continue reading
Posted Oct 3, 2014 at WhirledView
Jim Thompson himself, though, was a mystery and that contributes to questions surrounding his disappearance. Joshua Kurlantzick’s The Ideal Man: The Tragedy of Jim Thompson and the American Way of War (Johnathan Wiley and Sons, 2011) tries hard to solve that mystery but in the end the trail runs cold. The only thing we’re pretty sure of is that Thompson had a number of enemies as well as friends, was likely not eaten by wild tigers or other four legged predators then inhabiting the Cameron Highlands, did not commit suicide and would not have taken a fatal misstep and slipped into some ravine. Continue reading
Posted Sep 29, 2014 at WhirledView
The major reason I decided to embark upon Freedman’s journey – and see it through to the end – was because the term strategy (or lack thereof) has become one of those words that are tossed around all too easily by people complaining that so and so or such and such organization has no strategy. But they then fail to define what they mean or they give it such a rigid, outdated meaning that they, in essence, render the term useless. Continue reading
Posted Sep 18, 2014 at WhirledView
The so-called “Finnish model” that has been proposed is a solution that belongs to the past and does not solve the crisis in Ukrainian-Russian relations. Ukraine can build good relations with Russia. All that is needed is for Russia to accept proposals put recently forward by the Ukrainian leadership. This too would be in Russia’s interest. Continue reading
Posted Aug 28, 2014 at WhirledView
This past summer, the State Department claimed that it publicly released its aggregate promotion data for 2013 in The State Department Magazine, its trade magazine. There is just one problem: the statistics on diversity and gender were, as usual, missing. I noted this in two different posts this summer: one on discrimination against Hispanics in the Foreign Service and an earlier one on continuing gender inequality. . . . Doesn’t a law exist that mandates all federal agencies to collect and publicly release such data annually? If so, how can State consistently fail to comply - not once, not twice - but for years? Or am I wrong? Could it have some kind of special secret dispensation from the requirement? And if so why? In short, what is State hiding behind the Great Diversity Firewall? And why doesn't the administration and Congress demand accountability for a change? Continue reading
Posted Aug 25, 2014 at WhirledView
By James Schumaker, Guest Contributor James Schumaker, a retired Foreign Service Officer, has served in various capacities in the United States Government over the past several decades, with professional experience in the Soviet Union, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia.... Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2014 at WhirledView
In reality Novorossiya is a fuzzy concept, but at root it is based on the premise that irredentism is just fine as long as it’s my country that’s being the irredentist. Which means: the term Novorossiya has far reaching and dangerous consequences for international peace and stability. Continue reading
Posted Aug 18, 2014 at WhirledView
I don't agree with everything Ambassador McFaul says in his recent New York Times op-ed, but I do believe he is on the right track. . . .I also see that a lot of the featured commenters on his Op-ed are swallowing whole the Russian line that somehow Eastern Ukraine is naturally Russian because a majority there speaks Russian, and that Ukraine is not really one country but two. The fact is that while a minority of Eastern Ukrainians would like to move closer to Russia, a majority are for a united Ukraine, and favor closer connections with the West. Continue reading
Posted Aug 14, 2014 at WhirledView
Whoever convinced Vladimir Putin that it would be a cup of afternoon tea by the samovar to send arms and irregulars into Ukraine in the name of "protecting" the greater Russian speaking population and then to hive off the country's east because its population would welcome them with rose petals and vodka should be off the Kremlin payroll. Continue reading
Posted Aug 2, 2014 at WhirledView
Is there a reason that Bill Fitzgibbons - the apparent Hotline Coordinator in the office of the State Department’s Inspector General - e-mailed Joan Wadelton on July 3, 2014 at 2:07 in the afternoon just as the US government was shutting down for the July 4 holiday weekend to notify her that the IG’s office had decided to close its investigation of her case against the Department’s Bureau of Human Resources for lack of additional evidence? And then on Friday July 18 at 11:59 pm (one minute before midnight) responded to her request for supporting documents (see e-mail exchange in post) with what one could only consider the most cursory brush-off again via an OIG Hotline e-mail? Continue reading
Posted Jul 21, 2014 at WhirledView
How does State fare in OMB’s annual reports and with the EEOC, which also keeps gender and ethnicity statistics on the federal agencies? Well, it’s hard to be precise because State, uniquely it seems among federal agencies, does not allow the general public access to its gender/ethnic promotion statistics, classifying them as SBU and hiding them behind the department’s intranet wall. Continue reading
Posted Jul 14, 2014 at WhirledView
Nevertheless nearly 50 years later, a “female-proof” glass ceiling remains in the stodgiest of our federal bureaucracies to the extent that the State Department refuses to make public its latest promotion statistics for both women and minorities. To ensure the statistics won’t become public the Department has classified them this year – the first time they've been classified as far as I can remember. Continue reading
Posted Jun 23, 2014 at WhirledView
Justin - please. Give me a break. I really don't care what Putin said or what he didn't re Crimea. Try reading the region's history before you believe this piece of Russian propaganda. The Crimean peninsula was a pretty late addition to the Russian Empire (taken by force from the Ottoman Empire). Furthermore, I don't know where you're getting your information but I really doubt that either Soros or Nuland made the comment you attribute to them. Moreover your reference to Nuland is distorted and taken from a cell phone conversation several months ago that was secretly recorded and then released publicly by Moscow as a part of its anti-American propaganda campaign. Furthermore, the issue was Ukraine's decision to sign an association agreement with the EU (did not relate to the IMF) - and then Yanukovich's abrupt refusal to do so as a result of heavy Kremlin pressure. Seems to me you need to read a bit more history yourself.
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Why shouldn't America's diplomats also be honored by the US government in its official Memorial Day ceremonies - along with the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines. Maybe if they were and the public had a chance to learn their stories Americans would come one small step forward towards understanding that its diplomats are every bit as important as its military in the making and implementing of US foreign policy by keeping and restoring the peace. Continue reading
Posted Jun 9, 2014 at WhirledView
But taking a different tack, I wonder why no one seems to be asking the question as to who’s in charge in the Kremlin. Yes, I know Putin’s popularity ratings among Russians based on his playing the “uber-nationalist” card in Ukraine are at an all-time high. But why has he promised to remove the Russian troops from the border multiple times – yet those troops have not budged? Continue reading
Posted May 28, 2014 at WhirledView
The problem is, however, that as much as I support the Fulbright program, one that I defended and administered in the US and overseas throughout my 27 plus year Foreign Service career – particularly since Fulbright is a real exchange (not just a one way program for foreigners to come to the US and spend a few weeks touring the country and meeting their counterparts) - there are other factors that need to be considered and questions that need to be asked and answered in the context of the international exchanges budget in the bureau as a whole. Continue reading
Posted May 13, 2014 at WhirledView