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Patricia H. Kushlis
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"Sometimes you need a rat to catch a rat” is the concluding shot fired in Drew Magary’s GQ article on January 5, 2017 in which he argues that if Trump refuses to abide by the standard (and now useless) “norms” of the presidency. . . why should anyone in the press adhere to needless norms of their own.” Magary also argues that Michael Wolff was one of very few people to grasp that reality. Well yes. Wolff was also one of the few people to realize that the Trump and his White House staff failed to recognize a basic rule of journalism that when talking to a journalist be sure the ground rules are set beforehand. Even if the rules are clear, be careful what you say. And for heaven’s sake, vet the journalist’s reputation beforehand. Continue reading
Posted Jan 7, 2018 at WhirledView
Yes, the State Department does need reform. A part of that should include a re-examination of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 - now nearly 40 years old - but it needs to be done by people who know what they’re doing and who have the support of a capable Secretary with the backing of a capable White House. None of which exist today. Continue reading
Posted Nov 28, 2017 at WhirledView
At long last the US – albeit thanks to a few NGOs – has begun to make public the unabated Russian disinformation campaign which engulfed last year’s American elections and continues today. The Kremlin’s helpers primarily boosted and continue to bolster the pro-Trump message aimed at the largely under-educated American political far right. But more insidiously the Russian campaign has been designed to challenge democratic governance in the eyes of the world including and not unimportantly among Russia’s own domestic audience in the run up to the Russian Federation's own presidential election on March 18, 2018. The Kremlin’s American campaign is a mix of propaganda and disinformation and it is part and parcel of Russia’s cyber warfare against the West – its goal is to upend Europe and the US and thereby eliminate the economic sanctions against Moscow which were enacted after Russia illegally invaded Crimea and then Eastern Ukraine in 2014. Continue reading
Posted Oct 17, 2017 at WhirledView
Helen Rappaport’s Caught in the Revolution: Petrograd, Russia, 1917 – A World On Edge provides a different vantage point of the Communist Revolution that engulfed this huge country and changed the course of the world after October 1917 from other accounts that I’ve previously read. Continue reading
Posted Jul 24, 2017 at WhirledView
Frankly, I don't have time to deal with this. It's the tired line parroted by the Trump supporters - not to mention Trump himself - which I see repeated by fewer and fewer on Facebook as Trump makes more and more mistakes and makes himself look ridiculous at home and abroad. If you don't think the US intelligence agencies don't know what what was being said by whom and when, then you're naive at best. Furthermore, I suggest you look at the public statements Trump has made, the policies he has supported, and what you will see could have been and may well have been dictated by the Kremlin. And I'm not even talking about his disturbing 2 plus hour tete-a-tete with Putin in Hamburg - no notetakers and only Tillerson with him who also has Kremlin connections. I think I will close with that. End of story.
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By Patricia H Kushlis Here's are updates to this story in the July 20 issue of Time by Massimo Calabresi. In the unlikely event you haven’t followed this story, Russian intelligence services directed by Putin made a mockery of the... Continue reading
Posted Jun 26, 2017 at WhirledView
Secretary of State Tillerson is reportedly contemplating merging the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of State. This idea dates back to President Carter. However, such a merger would neither be the most efficient nor the most effective way to address shortcomings in our foreign assistance programs. In fact, the US government's foreign assistance efforts are scattershot and often duplicative. This does not mean, however, that USAID should be merged into the State Department with its far different mission and culture. Quite the opposite. Continue reading
Posted May 19, 2017 at WhirledView
Tillerson-Lavrov Moscow April 2017 RFE-RL photo I was appalled when I watched the video clip of Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov’s ill-mannered behavior towards US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the lunch in his honor in Moscow on April 12, 2017. Lavrov came across as boorish, imperious and obnoxious. . . . Continue reading
Posted May 3, 2017 at WhirledView
When you say the ranch do you mean at Wyntoon or San Simeon? I'd love to see the old photos - if you have electronic copies, I could post them for others to see.
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Congratulations on your new job! As the Secretary of State, you will be responsible for shaping and implementing our nation's foreign policy. The success of that policy will depend on many factors – including the State Department's ability to implement it. Importantly, any policy initiative must have a firm grounding in the administrative and logistical side of State, broadly speaking – security, finance, personnel, procurement, embassy construction and information technology. Nevertheless, numerous Secretaries of State have neglected the perceived dreariness of management for the glamor of making foreign policy. This has left the agency badly deteriorated, performing poorly and periodically wracked by scandal. Reforming and rebuilding State's administrative functions must be a priority for you. Following are three areas that should be of particular focus. Continue reading
Posted Feb 6, 2017 at WhirledView
Louis Sell’s From Washington to Moscow: US-Soviet Relations and the Collapse of the USSR is at the top of my must read books published in 2016. Part memoir and part analytical history, this analysis of US-Soviet relations deserves far more publicity than it has received thus far. Continue reading
Posted Dec 22, 2016 at WhirledView
For the second time in 16 years and the fifth time since the founding of the Republic, the Electoral College vote will trump – pun intended - the popular vote for president of the USA. An archaic institution designed for the late 18th century is soon destined to turn the popular vote on its head by handing the presidency to an incompetent clown and accused sex offender likely floating on a mountain of debt topped by a summit of law suits. Meanwhile, the majority of American voters who did not vote for him is told to grin (or grit their teeth) and bear it – that this is how democracy functions: this is how power is meant to shift peacefully from one administration to another. Continue reading
Posted Nov 22, 2016 at WhirledView
perhaps if the GOP nominating committee had simply set a couple of basic requirements - namely anyone running for the GOP nomination would need to agree to public release of his or her tax returns plus make public the results of a thorough physical (including mental stability) conducted at a place like Walter Reed or another top tier hospital like the Mayo Clinic before a candidate could become a candidate the GOP would be set to take over the White House in January. Come to think of it, shouldn’t these also be qualifications for all presidential candidates in the future including of course, the Democrats but the minor parties as well? Continue reading
Posted Oct 4, 2016 at WhirledView
Robert Service’s The End of the Cold War 1985-1991 is foremost a retelling of the nuclear arms control negotiations between the US and the Soviet Union during the Gorbachev era. Service, a long time British scholar at Oxford, is most comfortable and at his best in recounting the details of the rarefied nuclear arms reduction negotiations and does so in admirable English – without a non-specialist forced to consult a glossary of arms control terms. I, however, think that the Soviet Union fell apart as a result of its crumbling economic system brought to a head by the plummeting price of petroleum on the world market upon which the country was far too dependent. This combined with unsustainable military overreach based on decisions by a geriatric leadership that had been dying like flies in the proverbial pot full of honey prior to Gorbachev’s selection as Secretary General in 1985. Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2016 at WhirledView
Americans across party lines are deeply dissatisfied with Washington. And well they might be, as government incompetence and corruption have become hallmarks of the daily news cycle. Congressional oversight of the Executive Branch is partisan and ineffective, with an Administration's party refusing to address problems within its agencies and the opposition party doing little else. Neither party is offering solutions.. . . Here are a few remedies. Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2016 at WhirledView
How easy would it be to rig an American presidential election in these days of electronic voting machines and nearly ubiquitous Internet connectivity? This was one of Donald Trump’s latest charges but only after he saw his poll numbers decline precipitously last week and Hillary's move into as much as a 15 point lead. There are those who argue that it would be child’s play for a Kremlin sponsored hacker to break into US voting machines and skew the results - presumably in Donald’s favor since Moscow is known to despise Hillary - thereby handing him the election. But the electoral system in this country doesn’t work that way. Continue reading
Posted Aug 7, 2016 at WhirledView
It is rare to have the opportunity to see a production of The Girl of the Golden West although since its centenary in 2010 the opera has received a second wind and is being performed throughout the US and even at Milan’s super critical La Scala which at the time of this opera's debut (which opened, by the way, at New York's Met) was not known for treating Puccini or his operas kindly. But that was then and this is now: The Santa Fe Opera performed The Girl of the Golden West beautifully and the SFO’s theater – in the mountains of northern New Mexico – could not have provided a setting more true to life. Continue reading
Posted Jul 13, 2016 at WhirledView
Has the pendulum swung away from the global spread of democracy which characterized Europe and elsewhere after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 until the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008 and the subsequent rise and fall of the Arab Spring? The forces of reaction are powerful draws in times of turbulence and disruption - draws that we too often forget. Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2016 at WhirledView
By Patricia H Kushlis London May 8. I spent May Day in London including ten minutes or so observing what amounted to a minuscule Socialist Workers demonstration whose participants had assembled on a small green near Karl Marx’s house in... Continue reading
Posted May 8, 2016 at WhirledView
Well, Courtney, the US government does not accept the concept of spheres of influence like it or not although Obama came close to it in his Atlantic interview re Ukraine. But even there he just said he understood the Russians had legitimate interests in the country. So, however, if you look at the map do the Poles, the Belarus and even the Turks -.which he did not say. I think it's a squishy idea which lies in the roving eye of the militarily powerful. For the Russians for centuries it has meant to extend their territory as far as possible until running into an immovable object - namely someone else's forces who object to being run over and will stand up and fight. That includes the Finns who - if you play the sphere of influence game - have interests in the Russian region of Karelia which was a major part of Finland and which the Russians took as war booty at the end of WWII. Meanwhile, Take a look at Putin's advisors including and especially Dugan if you want to see where he would like to go. The difficulty is that there are Russian neighbors especially in the northwest who don't care to be part of Russia's orbit and have made that very plain. If you're not familiar with Baltic history may I suggest you read it including the secret Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.
Toggle Commented May 5, 2016 on Russia and Syria: What pull-out? at WhirledView
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It's been quite a while since we've received any comments -normally complaints - about the State Department's handling of American passport issuance but here's a new one which someone in CA or on the Hill might want to look into. Either the Post Office can handle new applications expeditiously or it has enough trouble just getting the mail delivered and a different system needs to be devised for passports especially during peak seasons which this is. Please note, renewals are normally handled by mail - otherwise I would expect a raft of complaints along these lines.
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Shortly before the Easter weekend, the State Department quietly published a partial breakdown of 2015 diversity statistics on its website. This endeavor was apparently only done at the prodding of a senior Senator. Except for data covering 2009, 2010 and 2011 Foreign Service promotions published in the State Department Magazine in June 2012, these are the only statistics broken down by ethnicity and gender that State has furnished publicly that we have seen in years. And here they are – as minimal an amount of information as could be put out there and still satisfy the Congressional request. But did they and should they be enough to mollify Congress? Continue reading
Posted Apr 18, 2016 at WhirledView
Courtney: The post is about Russia, not what the USG has done or not done. Whether the Russian Air Force has in fact done more to oppose ISIS than the US has is debatable because much of the Russian bombing missions have been against Assad rebels not ISIS. This post was not to defend the USG policies or to critique them. It was aimed at Russian policies that have contributed to the continuing refugee flows and further destabilization of Syria. I don't think the departure of Assad would necessarily mean much of anything because I don't think he, in reality, is in control of his own council. I think the Russians are buying him time - much like the US did in Vietnam - and like they did in Afghanistan in the 1979 invasion. In short, I think it's as nasty and even more complicated a mess as Iraq (I did not support the US invasion btw)and those after effects are, in my view, a major reason for the creation of ISIS.
Toggle Commented Apr 13, 2016 on Russia and Syria: What pull-out? at WhirledView
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It raises some of these issues but perhaps less bluntly. I hope that more Americans watch America's Diplomats. I like the show and the Santa Fe World Affairs Forum will show it to members in June. However, I think America's Diplomats could and should have been marketed more effectively. I do not think, for instance, that it should have been included as a tag on to this year's Great Decisions Series but made an integral part of a a more prominent series on PBS or another channel. When I asked the program manager at my local PBS station, she had trouble even finding it in the offerings. It's too good and important to be treated in that manner. Thanks for drawing attention to it.
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know it may be hard to believe after reading multiple media reports about Putin’s latest “surprise pull out from Syria” but the Kremlin did not, repeat, not, really pull its military out of Syria last week. So what were Putin's motives? Continue reading
Posted Mar 22, 2016 at WhirledView