Thomas Pickering’s Interview
Thomas Oickering’s interview was ostensibly focused on the situation that led to the recent departure of the UK’s Ambassador to the United States because of the leak of his report on the Trump Administration back to the Foreign Ministry in London. Pickering used the 50 minutes he had for this report to provide listeners with the best summary I have heard on diplomacy and its role in keeping both friends and foes in productive conversation with us. Pickering, a 6-time US Ambassador, provides the best summary I have ever heard on international relations and the need to approach it in an organized manner, the roles of Ambassadors and of the tradecraft of diplomacy in general. He also comments on the Cold War and how that evolved into a situation in which expectations and methods of dealing with both friends and adversaries were both generally known and productively used to keep the nuclear bomb capacity of the various friends and adversaries both known and under a defined boundary of control. He seems to rue the loss of those mores and notes that we are now in an era that in itself is now more unpredictable. Notable among matters that Pickering did not address is our post-Cold War loss of oublic diplomacy capacity, a field of endeavor deemed unnecessary in the waning years of the Clinton administration. Its loss has stripped us of the capacity to deal directly with influential individuals and organizations in every country with which we have diplomatic relations. Public diplomacy, as conducted by the cadre of specialists of the US Information Agency, once headed by Edward R. Murrow, worked to increase understanding of the United States and to vastly increase the channels of communication we had with important people in every country worldwide. The loss of that capacity has in many ways hobbled this country in its dealings worldwide. This includes both governmental and private sector realms. In some ways, Russia can be seen to be employing negative public diplomatic techniques against us and other democratically governed nations, weaponizing them. These taxtics are not new but what is new is that unchecked this battle has been allowed to penetrate our own society. Without our own public diplomatic corps to counter these tactics, we are entirely open to every possible misinformation about us being spread among both friends and former friends abroad, and we remain open to the divisive actions being employed to divide us as a nation and to despoil our elections, the very means we have to assure that our Constitutional government works as designed.
Reviewed on Apple Podcasts