THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | APRIL 2023 13 TALKING POINTS Russia Stops New START D uring his annual address to the nation on Feb. 21, Russian Presi- dent Vladimir Putin announced he was suspending his country’s participation in New START, the last remaining nuclear arms control treaty between the United States and Russia. Under New START, which first came into force in 2011, the two countries agreed to limit the number of nuclear arms on each side and to allow inspec- tions and other forms of verification. President Joe Biden called Putin’s lat- est move a “big mistake, ” but added that he doesn’t think it means Putin is consid- ering the use of nuclear weapons. Rose Gottemoeller, the chief U.S. negotiator for the treaty during the Obama administration, said on PBS NewsHour on Feb. 21: “It’s not as if we are left blind by this action. But the mutual predictability that comes from the treaty really helps us to have that 24/7 understanding, backed up, of course, by what we know from our own intelligence.” Eric Gomez, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, said of Putin’s announce- ment: “Right now the future of arms control looks bleak.” Tragedy in Türkiye Leads to Earthquake Diplomacy O n Feb. 6, a magnitude 7.8 earth- quake struck central southern Türkiye, close to the Syrian border, killing at least 46,000 people and leaving many more without food, water, or shelter. The Biden administration responded immediately, mobilizing federal agencies to provide aid to the government of Tür- kiye and humanitarian partners in Syria. Other governments also responded, even those that have historically had trou- bled relations with the stricken nations. Despite tense relations between Greece and Türkiye, Greek ForeignMinister Nikos Dendias visited the area hit by the quake with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavu- soglu—an effort to normalize relations called “earthquake diplomacy” that was lauded by many in the Greek diaspora. Even Armenia, which has had no diplomatic ties to its neighbor since 1993, sent humanitarian aid and a rescue team to Türkiye, leading Turkish Foreign Min- ister Cavusoglu to suggest there could be a normalization of relations between the two countries. “Armenia has extended its hand of friendship, showed solidarity and coop- eration with us in this difficult time,” said Cavusoglu. “We need to continue this solidarity.” Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad also seems to be using the earthquake as a means to reenter global society — The New York Times called his overtures to other governments “disaster diplomacy.” Al-Assad permitted aid convoys to enter opposition-controlled territories from Türkiye for the first time in 12 years. Open Forum Relaunched I n a February town hall with Acting Deputy Secretary of State for Manage- ment and Resources John Bass, Deputy Director of the Policy Planning Staff (S/P) Holly Holzer announced that the Secre- tary’s Open Forum was being officially relaunched with that event. The Open Forum has taken differ- ent forms over various administrations, but always with the aim of serving as a platform for discussion and debate. Launched by Secretary of State Dean Rusk in 1967, it was intended to pro- vide “opportunities for any employee to Podcast of the Month: VICE World News’ Havana Syndrome (https://bit.ly/Havana-Syndrome) A new podcast from VICE World News had listeners tuning in both inside and outside the Beltway as award-winning journalists Jon Lee Anderson and Adam Entous sought to uncover the secrets of Havana syndrome, known officially as Anomalous Health Incidents (AHI), the mysterious illness that has struck CIA, State Department, and other government officials and family members and was first found in Havana, Cuba, in 2016. The producers of this eight-part series traveled to Havana, Vienna, and Washington, D.C., to interview some of the White House officials, CIA operatives, and Foreign Service members who were afflicted. They came away with tragic personal stories about the effects of the unexplained illness on the lives and careers of these officials. As a bonus, we get an inside account from former Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes on the efforts to restart diplomatic relations with Cuba during the Obama administration, before Havana syndrome was identified. The appearance of a particular site or podcast is for information only and does not constitute an endorsement.