Tag Archives: leadership

Key Speeches | Liberty Medal Award for Senator John McCain

Last July, John McCain chided his beloved Senate colleagues for extreme partisanship and a failure to get work done. Now, he takes on the political culture led by the Breibartians embodied in a toxic type of nationalism and as what the NYT calls “an unfettered voice against Trumpism”. The speech has earned high praise from former political adversary Mitt Romney, who called it Lincolnesque and is, according to David Brooks, a “rallying cry around which the nation rediscovers its soul”. He further observes, after noting McCain’s failings such as a banking scandal, Sarah Palin this summation as to why the good Senator’s speech warrants close reading:

The moral fabric of society is invisible but essential. Some use their public position to dissolve it so they can have an open space for their selfishness. McCain is one of the strongest reweavers we have, and one of our best and most stubborn teachers.

Here is the full text via Time, including my own bolded highlights:

Thank you, Joe, my old, dear friend, for those mostly undeserved kind words. Vice President Biden and I have known each other for a lot of years now, more than forty, if you’re counting. We knew each other back when we were young and handsome and smarter than everyone else but were too modest to say so.

Joe was already a senator, and I was the Navy’s liaison to the Senate. My duties included escorting senate delegations on overseas trips, and in that capacity, I supervised the disposition of the delegation’s luggage, which could require – now and again – when no one of lower rank was available for the job – that I carry someone worthy’s bag. Once or twice that worthy turned out to be the young senator from Delaware. I’ve resented it ever since.

Joe has heard me joke about that before. I hope he has heard, too, my profession of gratitude for his friendship these many years. It has meant a lot to me. We served in the Senate together for over twenty years, during some eventful times, as we passed from young men to the fossils who appear before you this evening.

We didn’t always agree on the issues. We often argued – sometimes passionately. But we believed in each other’s patriotism and the sincerity of each other’s convictions. We believed in the institution we were privileged to serve in. We believed in our mutual responsibility to help make the place work and to cooperate in finding solutions to our country’s problems. We believed in our country and in our country’s indispensability to international peace and stability and to the progress of humanity. And through it all, whether we argued or agreed, Joe was good company. Thank you, old friend, for your company and your service to America.

Thank you, too, to the National Constitution Center, and everyone associated with it for this award. Thank you for that video, and for the all too generous compliments paid to me this evening. I’m aware of the prestigious company the Liberty Medal places me in. I’m humbled by it, and I’ll try my best not to prove too unworthy of it.

Some years ago, I was present at an event where an earlier Liberty Medal recipient spoke about America’s values and the sacrifices made for them. It was 1991, and I was attending the ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The World War II veteran, estimable patriot and good man, President George H.W. Bush, gave a moving speech at the USS Arizona memorial. I remember it very well. His voice was thick with emotion as he neared the end of his address. I imagine he was thinking not only of the brave Americans who lost their lives on December 7, 1941, but of the friends he had served with and lost in the Pacific where he had been the Navy’s youngest aviator.

‘Look at the water here, clear and quiet …’ he directed, ‘One day, in what now seems another lifetime, it wrapped its arms around the finest sons any nation could ever have, and it carried them to a better world.’

He could barely get out the last line, ‘May God bless them, and may God bless America, the most wondrous land on earth.’

The most wondrous land on earth, indeed. I’ve had the good fortune to spend sixty years in service to this wondrous land. It has not been perfect service, to be sure, and there were probably times when the country might have benefited from a little less of my help. But I’ve tried to deserve the privilege as best I can, and I’ve been repaid a thousand times over with adventures, with good company, and with the satisfaction of serving something more important than myself, of being a bit player in the extraordinary story of America. And I am so very grateful.

What a privilege it is to serve this big, boisterous, brawling, intemperate, striving, daring, beautiful, bountiful, brave, magnificent country. With all our flaws, all our mistakes, with all the frailties of human nature as much on display as our virtues, with all the rancor and anger of our politics, we are blessed.

We are living in the land of the free, the land where anything is possible, the land of the immigrant’s dream, the land with the storied past forgotten in the rush to the imagined future, the land that repairs and reinvents itself, the land where a person can escape the consequences of a self-centered youth and know the satisfaction of sacrificing for an ideal, the land where you can go from aimless rebellion to a noble cause, and from the bottom of your class to your party’s nomination for president.

We are blessed, and we have been a blessing to humanity in turn. The international order we helped build from the ashes of world war, and that we defend to this day, has liberated more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history. This wondrous land has shared its treasures and ideals and shed the blood of its finest patriots to help make another, better world. And as we did so, we made our own civilization more just, freer, more accomplished and prosperous than the America that existed when I watched my father go off to war on December 7, 1941.

To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.

We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil. We are the custodians of those ideals at home, and their champion abroad. We have done great good in the world. That leadership has had its costs, but we have become incomparably powerful and wealthy as we did. We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause, and we would bring more than shame on ourselves if we don’t. We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent. We wouldn’t deserve to.

I am the luckiest guy on earth. I have served America’s cause – the cause of our security and the security of our friends, the cause of freedom and equal justice – all my adult life. I haven’t always served it well. I haven’t even always appreciated what I was serving. But among the few compensations of old age is the acuity of hindsight. I see now that I was part of something important that drew me along in its wake even when I was diverted by other interests. I was, knowingly or not, along for the ride as America made the future better than the past.

And I have enjoyed it, every single day of it, the good ones and the not so good ones. I’ve been inspired by the service of better patriots than me. I’ve seen Americans make sacrifices for our country and her causes and for people who were strangers to them but for our common humanity, sacrifices that were much harder than the service asked of me. And I’ve seen the good they have done, the lives they freed from tyranny and injustice, the hope they encouraged, the dreams they made achievable.

May God bless them. May God bless America, and give us the strength and wisdom, the generosity and compassion, to do our duty for this wondrous land, and for the world that counts on us. With all its suffering and dangers, the world still looks to the example and leadership of America to become, another, better place. What greater cause could anyone ever serve.

Thank you again for this honor. I’ll treasure it.

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Key Speeches | Former President George W. Bush

This was a week for important speeches by U.S political voices. And a former conservative Republican President speaks out against discourse turning into “casual cruelty” and a swipe at Trumpism in a speech that will be remembered for a while:

We are gathered in the cause of liberty this is a unique moment. The great democracies face new and serious threats – yet seem to be losing confidence in their own calling and competence. Economic, political and national security challenges proliferate, and they are made worse by the tendency to turn inward. The health of the democratic spirit itself is at issue. And the renewal of that spirit is the urgent task at hand.

“Since World War II, America has encouraged and benefited from the global advance of free markets, from the strength of democratic alliances, and from the advance of free societies. At one level, this has been a raw calculation of interest. The 20th century featured some of the worst horrors of history because dictators committed them. Free nations are less likely to threaten and fight each other. And free trade helped make America into a global economic power.

“For more than 70 years, the presidents of both parties believed that American security and prosperity were directly tied to the success of freedom in the world. And they knew that the success depended, in large part, on U.S. leadership. This mission came naturally, because it expressed the DNA of American idealism.

“We know, deep down, that repression is not the wave of the future. We know that the desire for freedom is not confined to, or owned by, any culture; it is the inborn hope of our humanity. We know that free governments are the only way to ensure that the strong are just and the weak are valued. And we know that when we lose sight of our ideals, it is not democracy that has failed. It is the failure of those charged with preserving and protecting democracy.

“This is not to underestimate the historical obstacles to the development of democratic institutions and a democratic culture. Such problems nearly destroyed our country – and that should encourage a spirit of humility and a patience with others. Freedom is not merely a political menu option, or a foreign policy fad; it should be the defining commitment of our country, and the hope of the world.

“That appeal is proved not just by the content of people’s hopes, but a noteworthy hypocrisy: No democracy pretends to be a tyranny. Most tyrannies pretend they are democracies. Democracy remains the definition of political legitimacy. That has not changed, and that will not change.

“Yet for years, challenges have been gathering to the principles we hold dear. And, we must take them seriously. Some of these problems are external and obvious. Here in New York City, you know the threat of terrorism all too well. It is being fought even now on distant frontiers and in the hidden world of intelligence and surveillance. There is the frightening, evolving threat of nuclear proliferation and outlaw regimes. And there is an aggressive challenge by Russia and China to the norms and rules of the global order – proposed revisions that always seem to involve less respect for the rights of free nations and less freedom for the individual.

“These matters would be difficult under any circumstances. They are further complicated by a trend in western countries away from global engagement and democratic confidence. Parts of Europe have developed an identity crisis. We have seen insolvency, economic stagnation, youth unemployment, anger about immigration, resurgent ethno-nationalism, and deep questions about the meaning and durability of the European Union.

“America is not immune from these trends. In recent decades, public confidence in our institutions has declined. Our governing class has often been paralyzed in the face of obvious and pressing needs. The American dream of upward mobility seems out of reach for some who feel left behind in a changing economy. Discontent deepened and sharpened partisan conflicts. Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.

“There are some signs that the intensity of support for democracy itself has waned, especially among the young, who never experienced the galvanizing moral clarity of the Cold War, or never focused on the ruin of entire nations by socialist central planning. Some have called this “democratic deconsolidation.” Really, it seems to be a combination of weariness, frayed tempers, and forgetfulness.

We have seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. At times, it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates into dehumanization. Too often, we judge other groups by their worst examples while judging ourselves by our best intentions – forgetting the image of God we should see in each other.

“We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism – forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America. We see a fading confidence in the value of free markets and international trade – forgetting that conflict, instability, and poverty follow in the wake of protectionism.

“We have seen the return of isolationist sentiments – forgetting that American security is directly threatened by the chaos and despair of distant places, where threats such as terrorism, infectious disease, criminal gangs and drug trafficking tend to emerge.

“In all these ways, we need to recall and recover our own identity. Americans have a great advantage: To renew our country, we only need to remember our values.

“This is part of the reason we meet here today. How do we begin to encourage a new, 21st century American consensus on behalf of democratic freedom and free markets? That’s the question I posed to scholars at the Bush Institute. That is what Pete Wehner and Tom Melia, who are with us today, have answered with “The Spirit of Liberty: At Home, In The World,” a Call to Action paper.

“The recommendations come in broad categories. Here they are: First, America must harden its own defenses. Our country must show resolve and resilience in the face of external attacks on our democracy. And that begins with confronting a new era of cyber threats.

“America is experiencing the sustained attempt by a hostile power to feed and exploit our country’s divisions. According to our intelligence services, the Russian government has made a project of turning Americans against each other. This effort is broad, systematic and stealthy, it’s conducted across a range of social media platforms. Ultimately, this assault won’t succeed. But foreign aggressions – including cyber-attacks, disinformation and financial influence – should not be downplayed or tolerated. This is a clear case where the strength of our democracy begins at home. We must secure our electoral infrastructure and protect our electoral system from subversion.

“The second category of recommendations concerns the projection of American leadership – maintaining America’s role in sustaining and defending an international order rooted in freedom and free markets.

“Our security and prosperity are only found in wise, sustained, global engagement: In the cultivation of new markets for American goods. In the confrontation of security challenges before they fully materialize and arrive on our shores. In the fostering of global health and development as alternatives to suffering and resentment. In the attraction of talent, energy and enterprise from all over the world. In serving as a shining hope for refugees and a voice for dissidents, human rights defenders, and the oppressed.

“We should not be blind to the economic and social dislocations caused by globalization. People are hurting. They are angry. And, they are frustrated. We must hear them and help them. But we can’t wish globalization away, any more than we could wish away the agricultural revolution or the industrial revolution. One strength of free societies is their ability to adapt to economic and social disruptions. And that should be our goal: to prepare American workers for new opportunities, to care in practical, empowering ways for those who may feel left behind. The first step should be to enact policies that encourage robust economic growth by unlocking the potential of the private sector, and for unleashing the creativity and compassion of this country.

“A third focus of this document is strengthening democratic citizenship. And here we must put particular emphasis on the values and views of the young.

“Our identity as a nation – unlike many other nations – is not determined by geography or ethnicity, by soil or blood. Being an American involves the embrace of high ideals and civic responsibility. We become the heirs of Thomas Jefferson by accepting the ideal of human dignity found in the Declaration of Independence. We become the heirs of James Madison by understanding the genius and values of the U.S. Constitution. We become the heirs of Martin Luther King, Jr., by recognizing one another not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

“This means that people of every race, religion, and ethnicity can be fully and equally American. It means that bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed.

(Applause.)

“And it means that the very identity of our nation depends on the passing of civic ideals to the next generation.

“We need a renewed emphasis on civic learning in schools. And our young people need positive role models. Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children. The only way to pass along civic values is to first live up to them.

“Finally, the Call to Action calls on the major institutions of our democracy, public and private, to consciously and urgently attend to the problem of declining trust. For example, our democracy needs a media that is transparent, accurate and fair. Our democracy needs religious institutions that demonstrate integrity and champion civil discourse. Our democracy needs institutions of higher learning that are examples of truth and free expression.

“In short, it is time for American institutions to step up and provide cultural and moral leadership for this nation.

“Ten years ago, I attended a Conference on Democracy and Security in Prague. The goal was to put human rights and human freedom at the center of our relationships with repressive governments. The Prague Charter, signed by champions of liberty Vaclav Havel, Natan Sharansky, Jose Maria Aznar, called for the isolation and ostracism of regimes that suppress peaceful opponents by threats or violence.

“Little did we know that, a decade later, a crisis of confidence would be developing within the core democracies, making the message of freedom more inhibited and wavering. Little did we know that repressive governments would be undertaking a major effort to encourage division in western societies and to undermine the legitimacy of elections.

“Repressive rivals, along with skeptics here at home, misunderstand something important. It is the great advantage of free societies that we creatively adapt to challenges, without the direction of some central authority. Self-correction is the secret strength of freedom. We are a nation with a history of resilience and a genius for renewal.

“Right now, one of our worst national problems is a deficit of confidence. But the cause of freedom justifies all our faith and effort. It still inspires men and women in the darkest corners of the world, and it will inspire a rising generation. The American spirit does not say, ‘We shall manage,’ or ‘We shall make the best of it.’ It says, ‘We shall overcome.’ And that is exactly what we will do, with the help of God and one another.

“Thank you.

Via NPR

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Ambassador John E. Reinhardt, first public diplomacy leader at USIA

State Department spokesman John Kirby does daily battle with the press; it must get tiresome. So he would know a true legend in the field. This past 18 February 2016, John E. Reinhardt passed away and left a foundation for public diplomacy that should be more widely recognized:

Speaking on the impact of public diplomacy, Reinhardt once said this: “[P]ublic diplomacy as a foreign affairs endeavor has never been recognized as much as now in its great importance.” Time has not changed that perspective. In fact, perhaps, it has only become truer. In today’s increasingly interconnected world, where regional issues quickly transform into global challenges, the value of public diplomacy has never been greater.

via DipNote, Remembering John Reinhardt: A Pioneer in Public Diplomacy

In the NYT, Reinhardt’s obit explained his approach to organizational leadership at USIA:

“He was the real thing, a genuine, practicing cultural diplomat,” Richard T. Arndt, another envoy, wrote in 2005 in his book “The First Resort of Kings.” …

Renamed the United States International Communication Agency and encompassing Voice of America broadcasts and cultural exchanges, the agency under Dr. Reinhardt expanded its agenda to include “speakers sent abroad, seminars held abroad, visitors brought to this country,” he said then.“

Our activities and programs as a whole,” Dr. Reinhardt added, “should be designed to learn as well as to inform, and to inform as well as to learn.”

Source: John E. Reinhardt, Ambassador and Head of U.S. Information Agency, Dies at 95 – The New York Times

Read the full transcript of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training oral history project interview with Ambassador Reinhardt from March 2002 to get the measure of a remarkable contribution to U.S. diplomacy.

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In Putin we trust? Syrian Solutions.

What did we learn about the Russian leader called “the man without a face” by Masha Gessen this week in Charlie Rose’s interview? (Republican candidate Marco Rubio has already drawn his conclusions.)

First, from a stylistic approach–what’s with al the fawning? Aren’t journalists–especially experienced, successful, and respected ones like Rose—supposed to be able to stand up to power and to elicit truth? The interview seemed to be a dinner party chat rather than a journalistic exchange.

Next, we hear the Russian point of view on concerns about terrorists currently fighting in Syria that potentially return home to foster mischief (or worse). After two interactions at the UN between Putin and Obama we see little agreement.

On a strategic level, how can the U.S. hope to defeat ISIL and to remove Assad from power? Vali Nasr explains why Vladimir Putin is the solution to the Syrian Civil War.

The United States has from the outset been reluctant to get involved in the Syrian debacle. Its support for opposition to Assad has been ineffective and so have its attempts at finding a diplomatic solution. By contrast, or perhaps as a consequence, there is now recognition across the board that Russia is central to an end game in Syria.

Source: Putin: Syria’s Only Hope – POLITICO Magazine

For a contrarian view, Fred Kaplan sees weakness–not grandmaster chess moves–occurring in Russia’s repositioning forces in Syria.

In the past decade, Russia has lost erstwhile footholds in Libya and Iraq, failed in its attempt to regain Egypt as an ally after the fall of Hosni Mubarak, and would have lost Syria as well except for its supply of arms and advisers to Assad—whom it still may lose, despite its desperate measures.

The portrayal of Vladimir Putin as a grand chess master, shrewdly rebuilding the Russian empire through strength and wiles, is laughable. Syria is just one of two countries outside the former Soviet Union where Russia has a military base (the other being Vietnam, and its naval facility there, at Cam Ranh Bay, has shrunk considerably). His annexation of Crimea has proved a financial drain. His incursion into eastern Ukraine (where many ethnic Russians would welcome re-absorption into the Motherland) has stalled after a thin slice was taken at the cost of 3,000 soldiers. His plan for a Eurasian Economic Union, to counter the influence of the west’s European Union, has failed to materialize. His energy deal with China, designed to counter the west’s sanctions against Russian companies, has collapsed.

Source: Slate – Desperate in Damascus

Regardless what is really happening, Syria gives Putin a distraction from the situation in Ukraine.

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The New Berggruen Institute Builds Bridges

Ideas matter, and philosophy, too–according to the new Santa Monica, California-based think tank. Using the expected tools of “prizes” and contests the Berggruen Institute plans to do something novel. Employ the power of philosophy to promote cross-cultural understanding.

You could say that they are taking the long view.

In November 2013, the council held a meeting with the senior leadership of China, including President Xi Jinping. Mr. Xi, Mr. Berggruen recalled, began the meeting by citing China’s 5,000-year-old culture.“He started the whole discussion not with short-term political or policy issues,” Mr. Berggruen said, “but by sort of saying: ‘Listen, before we have a relationship, you have to understand who we are. We have to start with understanding and respect for very different views of the world.’ ”Bridging conflicting views, Mr. Berggruen said, is at the core of the center’s mission. “We want to find solutions, not just underline differences,” he said. “We want to come up with new ideas.”

Source: Nicolas Berggruen Wants to Bridge the East-West Gap – The New York Times

Notable names who have lined up to be a part of this include Jared Cohen, Amy Gutman, Mohamad A. El-Erian, Daniel Bell, Juan Luis Cebrian, Ernesto Zedillo, and Arianna Huffington.

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Kissinger the Freedom Fighter – WSJ

A new book by Nial Ferguson makes that case that Kissinger was an “idealist”, of sorts. Is his book, Kissinger, 1923-1968: The Idealist, credible?

As Kissinger observed, there was something unforgivable about the way the “protest movements [had] made heroes of leaders in repressive new countries,” oblivious to “the absurdity of founding a claim for freedom on protagonists of the totalitarian state—such as Guevara or Ho or Mao.” The student radicals failed to see that they were living through a fundamental transformation of the postwar international order. “The age of the superpowers,” Kissinger announced, “is drawing to an end.”

Source: Kissinger the Freedom Fighter – WSJ

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WWHD = What Would Holbrook Do?

We still look for leadership when major security crises beg for diplomatic prowess–and Richard Holbrooke cannot be forgotten. Stephen Sestanovich suggests the following lessons:

  1. America should never be on the sidelines
  2. Paint a big canvas
  3. Dont’ shy away from nation-building
  4. Diplomacy reflects facts on the ground — change them if you have to
  5. Muscle your friends as well as your enemies
  6. You get one bite at the apple — so take a big one

How do you deal with difficult people–even the “devil“?  Holbrook was especially good at this conundrum, as noted in no. 5:

The Clinton administration’s star negotiator knew that getting to yes involved a lot of cajolery, a lot of charm—and a lot of confrontation. He could be shameless when it came to buddying up to the bad guys. His principle seemed to be that there was nobody you couldn’t do a deal with, and he included criminals like Slobodan Milosevic. The good guys were surprised by how rough he was prepared to be with them. The Dayton peace talks ended well because Holbrooke gave the Bosnian Muslims an ultimatum: If you don’t sign the agreement in one hour, we close the talks down for good. His handling of the Pakistanis was equally unsentimental. An aide compared his treatment of difficult allies to therapy for psychologically abused children: “You don’t focus on the screaming and the violence—you just hug them tighter.”

via What Would Richard Holbrooke Do? – Stephen Sestanovich – POLITICO Magazine.

Read more from Sestanovich–who is the main speaker in today’s Kennedy Center CFR Conference Call on US foreign policy:

  1. Stephen Sestanovich, “Maximalist,” Alfred A. Knopf, February 2014.
  2. Stephen Sestanovich, “The Price of Pulling Back From the World,” New York Times, February 9, 2014.
  3. Stephen Sestanovich, “What Would Richard Holbrooke Do?” Politico, December 9, 2013.
  4. Stephen G. Brooks, G. John Ikenberry, and William C. Wohlforth, “Lean Forward: In Defense of American Engagement,” Foreign Affairs, January/February 2013.
  5. Barry R. Posen, “Pull Back: The Case for a Less Activist Foreign Policy,” Foreign Affairs, January/February 2013.

 

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Booklist | ‘Wilson,’ by A. Scott Berg

An idealist whose vision of a “League of Nations” failed in the Senate–Woodrow Wilson proved to be a canny politician in a fascinating time.

Despite these tendencies, he managed much of the war effort brilliantly, delivering a surprisingly effective army of more than two million men to France by the end of 1918. The United States stumbled onto the world stage a full-blown colossus, turning overnight from the world’s largest debtor nation to practically its sole creditor. Arriving in Europe to negotiate the peace, Wilson was greeted with an ecstasy no American president had ever matched, hailed as the savior of mankind.

via ‘Wilson,’ by A. Scott Berg – NYTimes.com.

In this NPR article the author reveals his access to new Wilson papers–and explores the changing role of the U.S. president, the monumental decision to enter WWI, as well as his vision for global governance:

“The vision was, and still is, a mighty one, I think, which is that there ought to be an almost Arthurian Round Table. There should be a kind of international parliament at which every country could sit. And, in fact, if there’s some problem breaking out somewhere in the world, they could discuss it pre-emptively, and everyone would agree not to go to war until it has been discussed. And if the discussions did not work, there would be a notion of collective security. That is to say, they would all contribute to a kind of army that would, in essence, police the world when necessary. And this was a real idealistic vision, no question about it.”

Update:  After a fireside chat on the book Maureen Dowd writes about his mastery of Congressional relations, dating habits, racism and other foibles of his times.

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Diplomats Have Been Dropping Their Pens and Waving Guns – Room for Debate – NYTimes.com

In this discussion, “Foggy Bottom and the Fog of War” several observers explore what is gained or lost when the secretary of defense takes a back seat to the secretary of state in pursuing military interventions.

  • Should we follow Samantha Power’s lead and “weaponize human rights?”
  • Do career incentives for the use of force skew Washington policy for the worse?
  • Did Presidential dysfunction, resulting in the marginalization of Sec State Colin Powell undermine the Powell Doctrine–limiting the use of force except for in extraordinary circumstances–as Christopher O’Sullivan notes?
  • Is the State Department as an institution incapable of designing, owning, and implementing strategic? Should we have a stronger, better developed diplomatic core, as Kori Schake suggests?
  • Do you agree that Vietnam is the “anti-diplomacy” example, where DOD tried (and failed) to be diplomats, under Robert S. McNamara’s leadership.  (This notion is illustrated in the brilliant doc, The Fog of War.)
  • via Diplomats Have Been Dropping Their Pens and Waving Guns – Room for Debate – NYTimes.com.
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Would Machiavelli Have Drawn a Red Line? – By Rosa Brooks | Foreign Policy

Not hard to see why this is trending on foreignpolicy.com–a contemporary discussion on the master political tactician, applied to U.S. diplomacy.

Somewhere along the line, this seems to have changed. Today, many of our senior-most diplomats (and I include the president in that general category) seem to substitute shrillness for suavity, hectoring intransigence for erudition, and prissy pomposity for persuasion.

The examples are too numerous to cite, but take that peculiarly popular word “unacceptable” (as in, “That is unacceptable to the United States”). The number of things the United States finds “unacceptable” is equaled only by the number of things it “will not tolerate.” And that is to say nothing of the multitude of “red lines” and “lines in the sand” that U.S. officials draw on a regular basis.

via Would Machiavelli Have Drawn a Red Line? – By Rosa Brooks | Foreign Policy.

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