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Patricia H. Kushlis
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Courtney - I'm going to respond here. 1) The audience Joan is aiming for is the US and in particular the US foreign policy community. If Biden is elected, there will be a major rethink of both policy and process. 2) From my perspective, it's clear to me that without a decent underpinning - e.g. a functioning/coherent management structure - making and implementing policy is nigh impossible. At this point the State Department does not have it and, frankly, has not had one for a long period of time. It's just gotten far worse under the current administration.
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The Department of State’s organizational structure has not kept pace with a rapidly changing world. Issues, inventions and circumstances in the 21st century – globalization, terrorism, disease, information technology and cyber threats, climate change, energy security and more – require an institution that can respond rapidly to unanticipated challenges through innovative, pragmatic policies. These new policies must be firmly rooted and integrated in a well-organized and nimble administrative bureaucracy if they are to succeed. Providing the underpinnings for the conduct of an effective 21st century foreign policy can only be achieved with the full-scale reform of the State Department’s management structure. Such reform is imperative – not only to comply with modern organizational practices and controls – but for the success of America’s foreign relations worldwide. Continue reading
Posted Sep 14, 2020 at WhirledView
The Peace Corps should transform into a two-track organization. Peace Corps missions overseas would administer both the in-country and virtual programs. Peace Corps headquarters in Washington would recruit for, and support, both programs. In this way, a venerable institution could continue on its successful and traditional path, while simultaneously moving into the 21st century. Continue reading
Posted Jun 23, 2020 at WhirledView
We call on America - and Americans - to stand with countries less able than ours, even as we continue to fight the pandemic here at home. The Trump Administration should request and Congress should provide immediate and robust humanitarian funding to USAID for the best chance of curbing the virus and preventing hunger and economic devastation. Individual Americans who are able to give should support organizations with global logistical reach as well as small, locally-connected non-profits with the relationships and structure to reach remote communities directly. As Boube reminds us, people everywhere are striving to stay healthy and maintain their livelihoods; it is in the interest of those fortunate enough to have more to bolster those with less so we all survive. Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2020 at WhirledView
So my question is not just how can the state of State be righted but also how can the disheveled state of the union be restored once mad King Lear is out of the White House by whatever way it occurs. Continue reading
Posted Oct 14, 2019 at WhirledView
A little-noticed decision by the U.S. Federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, handed down May 10, 2019, has implications for Foreign Service Selection Boards’ record keeping practices, going into the 2019 promotion cycle. The decision in Figueroa v. Pompeo, case no. 18-5064 (D.C. Cir. May 10, 2019), will require future promotion boards to document on an individual basis the reason(s) why a candidate has been denied promotion. Continue reading
Posted Jun 22, 2019 at WhirledView
Just days before the Trumps descent upon the Royals, he was taken off balance by a nine minute very public made-for-television recap of the Mueller report by its chief author. Mueller’s words did not clear Trump of obstruction of justice and did not state that he and/or his nearest and dearest advisors had not conspired with Moscow to rig the 2016 elections. What it said was that there were numerous accounts of likely obstruction but that because of a Department of Justice ruling, Mueller could or would not indict him. That was Congress’ job. Continue reading
Posted Jun 3, 2019 at WhirledView
Every time I see a poll asserting that 85% or some high percentage of GOP voters support Trump or a Trump administration policy, I say to myself – that’s not surprising but shouldn’t 85% of a declining number of supporters be the real story? Yet the stories often ignore a decline that has been underway over the last decade perhaps because the current figures are not as readily available as they should be. Yet, since 2009 or thereabouts, we know that Independents have comprised the largest group of American voters. Democrats are second. Republicans are third. Continue reading
Posted Jan 2, 2019 at WhirledView
The overall picture Unger portrays is one of the US president tethered to the Russian mafia which is tethered to Vladimir Putin and his Russian security services. The late Karen Dawisha described the Putin-oligarch-mafia connections accurately in her 2014 book Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia as a mafia state. . . .More importantly what makes this book worth reading is his careful assembling of the many pieces of this still unraveling story into a well written, searing and coherent fashion. Continue reading
Posted Sep 9, 2018 at WhirledView
On Monday, July 16, Donald Trump is scheduled to meet one-on-one with Russian Federation president Vladimir Putin. I could suggest that Trump is salivating for this meeting on the Baltic although why he wants it so much, remains unclear. Is it the prestige of meeting face to face in an hour long meeting a deux with another male autocrat for whom he has a special affinity? It doesn’t take that long for a photo op after all. Normally, as former Ambassador Nicholas Burns observed in a PBS Newshour interview Friday evening, the principals are well prepared and the topics of such meetings are clearly defined and set out in advance. Continue reading
Posted Jul 15, 2018 at WhirledView
Trump’s own brand of transactional diplomacy, however, is different. For him, it’s a narrow and personally based world view couched in bluster and incendiary Tweets sent at weird hours of the night but what’s different is that it’s not designed to further or even support US national goals and objectives – those don’t matter. Rather it’s designed to enrich Trump and/or his company and children personally. Much diplomacy – especially bilateral - has its roots in transaction: the goal is to see that both countries maximize their objectives. Essentially, it’s ‘I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine.’ But it’s government to government not government to the bank account of an individual official. That, however, is not how Trump operates. Continue reading
Posted Jun 22, 2018 at WhirledView
Much has been written about American Soviet experts George Kennan and Charles Bohlen but knowledge of their contemporary, the more reserved Llewellyn E. Thompson had all but disappeared from view until his daughters, Jenny and Sherry Thompson published his biography earlier this year – a work 15 years in the making. It is painstakingly researched and draws upon multiple, often primary, sources from now unclassified documents, diplomatic oral histories from the American Diplomatic Studies and Training collection, interviews with contemporaries as well as letters and photographs from their own personal archives – all coherently presented in a single 477 page volume plus copious end notes and a substantial bibliography that documents the meticulous work presented throughout the book. Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2018 at WhirledView
By Patricia H Kushlis Let me get this straight. President Trump is planning to renege on the Iran nuclear deal but is pressing all steam ahead on a perhaps nuclear deal with North Korea. Is that correct? Something doesn’t compute.... Continue reading
Posted Apr 27, 2018 at WhirledView
In short, a policy singularly reliant upon the 21st century’s equivalent of gun boat diplomacy is unlikely to succeed in the long run. If that, in fact, is what American foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific has come to be. I’d like to know. Continue reading
Posted Feb 25, 2018 at WhirledView
"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