The Foreign Service Journal, January-February 2021

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2021 89 “Madam Secretary,” “Parks and Recre- ation” and “Gilmore Girls.” There is even discussion of a gig on “Dancing with the Stars.” And there are more. In one hilarious interlude, she was bizarrely mistaken for Mother Teresa by two inebriated men, one of whom even asked her to “bless” him. In another vignette, she recounts receiving an eerie voicemail from a New York Times reporter. He said he was drafting her “advance obituary” and needed some additional informa- tion. A criticism of the book is that keep- ing up with the former Secretary’s productivity and numerous pursuits can make an observer feel, well, dazed. Touching on this point, former Czech president Vaclav Havel is reported to have been stunned that Albright had written yet another book given all the constraints on her time. A reader of her latest book certainly has the license to feel as Havel did. That said, the overall impact of Hell and Other Destinations is highly posi- tive. Demonstrating remarkable vitality, Albright has performed many public services during her post–Foggy Bottom years. Now at age 83, she shows no sign of slowing down. Like William Finnegan in his brilliant Pulitzer Prize–winning memoir, Barbar- ian Days: A Surfing Life , Madeleine Albright knows she has caught a good wave that she doesn’t want to end. n Joseph L. Novak is a Foreign Service officer serving in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs at the State Depart- ment in Washington, D.C. It’s Not About Leveling the Playing Field Striking Back: Overt and Covert Options to Combat Russian Disinformation Thomas Kent, Jamestown Foundation, 2020, $24.95/paperback, 300 pages. Reviewed by Mike Hurley It was the 1980s in Moscow when Mikhail Gorbachev, general secretary of the Communist Party, tried to change the course of the country via “glasnost,” a greater openness about Soviet realities. I had just arrived at Embassy Mos- cow’s press office and was assigned to get an arms control article by Max Kam- pelman, the U.S. chief for arms control negotiations with the Soviets, published in Izvestiya , the government newspaper of record. Izvestiya resisted at first—they had never published an article by a U.S. official explaining a U.S. policy—but eventually published it on Aug. 26, 1987. Were we “leveling the playing field”? In a word, no. Fast forward to now. The news is dominated by allegations about Russian interference in U.S. elec- tions, and there was no national plan to stop it for 2020. We are therefore fortunate to have Striking Back , a new book by Thomas Kent, former presi- dent and CEO of RFE/RL (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty—a U.S. govern- ment–funded broadcaster that reports news in 23 countries without a free or fully developed press, including Russia). Talk about timely! Mr. Kent has crafted nothing short of an action plan for government and non- government players to take down what he calls “Russian Information Opera- tions.” The goal is to put the Russian