The Foreign Service Journal, December 2011

22 F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 1 George Shultz, a favorite among For- eign Service veterans for his concern for both the highest-level diplomacy and the working-level, everyday func- tions of the Foreign Service. In “Cold War Lessons” (p. 23), Secretary Shultz discusses the foreign policy strategies of the time, President Ronald Reagan’s successful efforts to engage with the Soviets and, in particular, with General Secretary Gor- bachev. In reviewing the effective way that containment along with intense diplomacy, backed by strength, worked at that time, he reveals potential lessons for international engagement today. Next up is Ambassador Jack Matlock, who ran Em- bassy Moscow from 1987 to 1991 and had perhaps the best seat in the house, both to witness the historic events on the ground and to participate in high-level U.S.-Soviet talks. In “Embassy Moscow: On the Front Lines of His- tory” (p. 27), he tells us how the embassy team got the story and helped inform U.S. policy as the Soviet Union was opening up and then coming apart under Gorbachev. A Generation of Soviet Hands In “The View from the Trenches” (p. 34), TomGraham describes the firetrap chancery, KGB surveillance, writing cables longhand, attending Communist Party congresses and the other everyday challenges for diplomats inMoscow. We see that political work just doesn’t get any better than Moscow during the sea change that came along with glas- nost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring). And we get a closer look at Embassy Moscow’s prescient “Abyss” cable, “The Possible Collapse of the Soviet Union and What We Should Be Doing About It.” James Schumaker brings the story home with “In the Eye of the Storm” (p. 39), highlighting Team SOV and de- scribing how a generation of Soviet hands came together at Embassy Moscow. He also takes us into the secure confer- ence room where Amb. Matlock and Tom Graham were discussing the impending dissolution of the Soviet Union, in 1989. In “Cultural Diplomacy in the Cold War” (p. 42), U.S. Information Service veteran Yale Richmond provides the people-to-people diplomacy angle with the story of the cul- tural exchanges that changed perceptions on both sides of the Iron Curtain. For a look at what came after the collapse, we start with commercial officer Michael Lally, who puts the economic reporting and commercial diplomacy of the early 1990s into perspective. In “Picking Up the Pieces” (p. 46), he describes Washington’s insatiable appetite for information on the economic situa- tion in the Newly Independent States and the sad narrative of food short- ages and hyperinflation throughout the former Soviet Union. After the Collapse Next we have a compilation of short pieces, “Setting Up Shop in the Newly Independent States” (p. 49), fromFSOs and Foreign Service Nationals who helped set up 14 new embassies and get them running. Mike Tully writes about supporting the NIS post openings from the New Post Sup- port Unit in Bonn (a lifeline office that NIS newcomers would pass through for orientation on the way to post). We then hear from three Embassy Bishkek veterans (including Foreign Service Nationals Tamara Burkovskaia and Isken Sydykov). I can safely say that the Kyrgyzstan experiences have much in common with those of other NIS posts, all struggling with the excitement and mess of establishing an embassy in a fallen empire. Julie Ruterbories was the first vice consul/general serv- ices officer to be assigned to Bishkek. She faced the never- ending complications of running a warehouse at the end of supply and communication lines, procuring everything from electricity to vehicles, fixing frozen pipes and constructing walls to create offices. My own arrival one year later to take up the GSO duties left Julie free to focus on the equally challenging task of building (quite literally) a real consular section from scratch. Public Affairs Officer Mary Kruger describes how she went to Kiev (now Kyiv) to help open a new consulate in the USSR, only to find herself in a brand- new, high-priority country (think nuclear weapons) setting up an embassy. The focus concludes with “Eurasia’s Troubled Frontiers” (p. 56), by Robert McMahon, which looks beyond the dis- solution of the USSR at the disputed territories within the region that emerged out of the collapse and remain unre- solved to this day. We hope you will enjoy this retrospective. If you feel in- spired to write up and share your own story from this era, please send it over to us ( ). ■ F OCUS It was a time when military efforts supported U.S. diplomacy and not the other way around.