tv After Words CSPAN October 16, 2016 12:00pm-1:01pm EDT
>> she's interviewed by paula, former secretary of global affairs. >> mary, you've written a really terrific book and on the back joe says, mary thompson joans has used wikileaks cables and america's foreign policy disconnect, why did you write this book? >> thank you very much. i admired your career all of the time. i know firsthand what my colleagues do and the wikileaks releases which was not intentional as part of the government and something that nobody that had imagined, gave us a unique opportunity what diplomats do in real-time.
the cables do with leaders many of whom in place and an opportunity for someone who had been a diplomat and had lived the experience in serving in some of the countries in which the cables were written to comment on them and try to make sense and meaning of them for the public at large. >> now, how long was your career in the foreign service and why did you want to become a foreign service officer, let's start with? >> i was hired in 1989 by the agency and i comb from the diplomacy line of work. the agencies was embolded and evolved into what ultimately cape the deputy chief of mission, the u.s. embassy in prague which was my last assignment.
>> but why did you want to be a foreign service officer? the students today that wanting to into the foreign service, they want to go abroad and make a difference. what motivated you? >> the same things that, i think, motivated my colleagues. a desire to service my country and also a desire to learn about the rest of the world, to experience foreign cultures and languages, i love languages and deep down how others think of the united states. the opinions and try to use that to inform u.s. foreign policy.
>> explain, if you will a little bit about foreign diplomacy, it's interesting when the organization, the united states information agency was meld intoed the state department, there was, in fact, a really heavy debate and really controversial debate over the question should it be brought in to the state department and some people who said absolutely not because it should be independent and would have a greater impact if it was, on the other hand, then there was the issue of where it should be in the state department because bringing it in it's melded into the policy process, what did you about that before we turn to the book? >> to describe it as pressing culture and a lot of us who worked in it gravitate towards media work, which is social media, writing speeches, arranging media interviews,
press conferences, cultivating contacts among the journalistic community, reading and monitoring media all of the time and the culture aspect which means bringing the rest of american culture to the rest of the world which is a challenge because we have pop culture and everyone thinks that they know about america and what they know is not always best for america so it's an interesting to deepen foreign public understanding of what american culture is all about and what to learn more about the foreign cultures in which we operate. i love that meshing of the two and the mutual understanding that takes place when all goes as it should and when we have an opportunity to deepen the layers of knowledge. you're right. it plays a crucial role in understanding of the societies
and also plays a role which isn't and hasn't been traditional role of the state department and what the state department has focused on and i think it's a crucial one. >> indeed, to go back to your earlier question, one of the things that sets american diplomacy apart from what is practiced in other countries is imperative to reach over or across heads of state and governments directly to foreign publics and by foreign publics it's a term of art, i really mean people. people from all walks of life, not just journalists but artists, people who work in ngo's, academia, people who are opinion leaders and people from nontraditional lines of work who may never achieve in halls of power but be effective diplomats
not only public practitioners. >> let's turn to your book, you layed out very well in these nine chapters the wikileaks cables and you did it meth to -- methodically. i don't think people may know realize scale of scope of what was covered and the classified portion was really in the scheme of things and only comprised to
a small part. as you pointed out there were a number of confidential but surprisingly number of unclassified cable. let me first start with this, what -- where were you on november 28th, 2010. >> i was a diplomatic resident working in new england. my job was to talk to aspiring diplomats not only from across new england what about it's like to been a diplomat and what diplomacy means modern times. students always read george canon and probably that had moment in history and it's the way foreign policy is made.
it's not likely to happen again. explaining to students, well, what is foreign policy and where does the foreign fit in and where do stakeholders in foreign policy and what's the appear rat us behind it and what can we expect if we were to go to consul or embassy anywhere in the world, what would that look like or feel like. that's what i was doing at the time. >> what was your initial reaction on that day and when you learned of the wikileaks cables and the fact that they were released and what did you think their impact was? >> shock, horror, disbelief, like all of my colleagues and sort of racing my brain, it was at the top of my mine that might embarrass us or might undermine u.s. foreign policy. what had i cleared on, what would my name appeared on and wishing that i could sit down with my colleagues to talk about
it but no longer working at the embassy but now being based in new england is the diplomatic residence, i would love to be part of the conversations but i have a different job at the moment and my job is going to be answer questions from students and faculty and the public who are interested in foreign service. >> you say in the book that the release of these cables wasn't unprecedented in a certain way, that there had been other times historically where there have been such releases of information but not in the exact same shape or form as in this case. talk a little bit about that and in putting this in context. >> sure, los angeles are part of the government as you know from your long tenure in the government. it's part of journalistic practice to cultivate forces to use information, pentagon papers, of course, one example of that.
where i think this is noteworthy is the role of julian assange who was in the newspaper recently because he was on comments of the murder that took place in washington, d.c. a couple of weeks. assange had an interesting angle. he unlike a journalist, really disliked government and suspicious and was certain that there were underhanded dealings and somehow publishing this is sort of a radical transparency would prove that all of us were up to no good. in fact, both guardian new york times were surprised that there were no underhanded dealings. these were cables written able mid-level officers going about
their duties with interesting approaches. writing style that was surprisingly readable and not bureaucratic and making efforts to understand the environments in which they had been posted in sending that information back to washington. and i thought there was a lot of eloquence that assange missed because of his own agenda. somehow there's dirt that will come to light. surprisingly dirt in all of this. it's interesting but it's not in -- >> it caught my attention that in your book that you did mention the guardian and you also mentioned david zanger of the new york times. the cables were often eloquent and occasionally entertaining.
it was interesting, the reactions. you had italian minister who described september 11th of world diplomacy, was it the september 11th, would you put it from what you just described it doesn't sound like you view it as the same? >> well, we survived. edward snowden was waiting in the wings. we had the dnc scandal a two or two ago. los angeles are going to be part of government life. the speed of which we communicate with each other now not only in long cables, short emails, texts, social media, tweets, all that is going to be part of the body politic, understanding how to classify
it, add -- adjudicate it. hillary clinton's emails have reignited a lot of that debate and the volume of which we communicate with each other is crushing. the way in we classify thing and declie things cannot continue. we have to have to find a new way to classify things. you're assuming that a person would know sitting in laos, for example, whether or not something would be damaging or just damaging or possibly not damaging at all. that officer may not have sufficient information in which to make a judgment on that. and there's the long habit that
the classification, the more likely you will have a leadership and interested. >> there was another aspect that was addressed by people who reacted at the time, that was was trust broken with foreign diplomats, what was the impact there. i was struck, you quote, then defense secretary robert ga, the e and he says i described as a meltdown, game changer and so on . the fact is governments deal in the united states braus it's in their interest, not because they like us or not because they believe we can keep secrets. so a question that just comes to my mind is, well, was trust broken because there were others who reacted and felt because of
the release, the damage that was done was there was trust broken in terms of confidentiality of exchange that took place? >> sure, i think there was some damage. gates was intentionally trying to calm people. i don't think it was the 9/11 of world diplomacy either. somewhere in the middle. one of the efforts that took place before "the new york times" published was to sit down with state officials dozens of them and go through them and redact names of the sources that would be -- whose lives would be em pearled and this was something that new york times engaged in and this was an effort that took place over several days before the release and the guardian honored redaction that is were made. wikileaks did not, so ultimately
a lot of information and a lot of names were out there that arguably should not have been. i think people would be less open. i don't think it's an american problem because we live in a global world and keeping secrets is a lot harder and have the means to guaranty someone that their views will be kept confidential is going to be harder in the future. would that mean that people will be less candid, i don't know. my sense of human experience is that people often want to talk. they want to share their views and they're willing to go to enormous risks in order to get viewpoint across. it's not diplomats but they want
their opinions to be out there. we are in a time in which platforms for communication are changes all of the time and we can't -- we can't guaranty confidentiality on the other hand people may be more willing to take the risk and accept the fact that they could get out. >> one of the reactions i took note of and you cited in the book is one who is on service, investors tom and he had a wonderful quote. you cover the unknown, in diplomacy you cover the known. you know, you had a real silver lining that i think you brought out wonderfully in this book and that is that you basically say that the leaked cables in a way did diplomats a favor by also
putting a spotlight in the window not only on their work but also cited by david zanger, eloquence of writing but also a silver line to go this as well. >> i hope that there was a silver lining for the officers. there were so many great stories of not only mid-level officers but entry officers. a group of entry-level officers dieding to take a fact-finding mission going and dugging out canoes to meet with descendants of escaped lives. and on the way to do this they
discover all the illegal gold-mining operation that is are happening, run by brazilians and chinese and mercury being dumped in the water and prostitution and things that go along with gold-mining operations. the country didn't have complete control of the back parts of the region where this was happening and the embassy officers ultimately did meet the people that they hoped to meet with and it was the first time in seven years that anyone had met with them. they did it. they didn't need any special skills. they weren't senior, high-ranking people.
then providing the context for it that would make sense and tans so-what question back in washington of good for you, you did this but why should we care, you should care because of environmental reasons as well as human rights reasons and here is what we discovered. that's real diplomacy to me. >> talk about the title of the book and as we go through some of the chapters, but let's starts with the title. leaked embassy cables and america's foreign policy disconnect. what's the disconnect that you came here to? >> i see particularly in the time period that we were looking at. most of the wikileaks cables deal from 2006-2010. it means that we don't get into benghazi which a lot of people wonder about which benghazi happened in 2012, 2006 to 2008 was the last two years of the bush administration. then we have the first two years
and the euphoria of the obama administration that's really an interesting time in american diplomatic history. so that -- that's an important guideline right there. the disconnect it seems to me is set -- the bush's moneys view of the world was informed greatly by 9/11, and how can it not be? and this led in the aftermath of many panels, commissions, boards of inquiry all looking at america's relations with islam, with the muslim world and what went wrong and how could it be fixed. there were not a lot of american diplomats who served in the middle east. not a lot of scholars, not a lot of people with on the ground experiencing who were informing that those queries and those commissions and i think that's a shame. there was a lot of writing taking place in the embassies
and consulates about what it's like to be living in post 9/11, in an arab country or muslim world and i'm not sure the cables were being read and i'm not sure voices were heard. there were embassies that were not part of the muslim world which were dealing with antiamericanism and in some cases with antiamericanism which was much worse than what was happening in the muslim world. argentina would be a case in point where at some point the public opinion ratings turns to popular of the united states according to global research, 12%. what happened in argentina, this is not a muslim nation, it has nothing to do with 9/11, where did things go so wrong? the embassy had a lot of answers, a lot of ideas, initiatives but i'm not sure they got a hearing. >> that's one of the recommendations at the end of the book is looking at the connectivity between the policy makers in washington and those in the field and making sure
that the voice in the field the well heard. isn't that one of the strains through the various chapters and that you do come out with a recommendation, one of your recommendations or appeals at the end? >> yes. i am certainly not idealistic that washington is wait to go hear from mid-level diplomats since paraguay, whatever, they're not. the foreign policy-making establishment is as complex as it has ever been. you are part of that, you have lived that experience. you know that. we have stakeholders from single-issue groups, inch from pta on down, congress ever more interested in foreign policy, the number of agencies that look globally has increased, the state department is but one of many. so, yes, it's not likely that
foreign service officers are ever going to direct foreign policy but what i discovered in reading cableses and my own view in which sometimes policy makers look with suspicion on american officers and even though we are just as american an uphold all the same values and sworn to defend and protect the u.s. constitution just as they are and when we are sent overseas we are seen with people who have gone over to the other side, people who have lost their sense of what it means to support and defend american policy. i think this comes from the mccarthy area, vietnam era.
the more you know about a foreign culture, the less you know about your own. i don't think it should be that way. i think what we have to offer is important and certainly truster worthy and we need a voice. now, you could have secured video conferences. it's very easy to bring people to the cable virtually or on a plane. that expertise is being lost. that's what the cables showed. it's not a partisan issue. i think it happens in republican as well as democratic administrations. there was no water-shed moment when the obama administration came into office that suddenly it was cleared that cables were being read as before they hadn't. quite the contrary. it was kind of business as usual.
>> i think you raised an important point. every administration that comes in is going to have its mission, it's going to have its agenda but also what you really underscore and bring out is the range and diversity and the experience and analysis of those in the field that have something substantial to contribute to the decision-making process and it may not necessarily as you're pointing out mean that it will necessary be the end result but, hey, it's important to make sure that those considerations are factored into deliberations and not ignored and by which ever administration in this case and that's something you really try to bring out here. let me ask you about public diplomacy because you yourself was a public diplomacy and here interesting enough in the cables that were leaked, there's also an interesting aspect that's brought up in the diplomacy area
and you mentioned it, in fact, moments ago in the example that you gave, i believe, in culture diplomacy and what actually can come out, whether it's historical, whether it's about the roots of the society, talk a bit about that and how public diplomacy factors into the cables that were leaked. >> well, the iraq chapter is informative in that regard because there was a lot of controversy at the time about what could be accomplished in a country that was war-torn as iraq was and sadly still is and the bush administration made a point to make iraq the new embassy in iraq, the largest embassy in the world, however, with staffing requires the number of foreign officers available and those who could speak arabic and effective is very small and soon turnover began to be a problem and became
hard to fill positions. foreign service officers said isn't important to work in haiti. i spoke four years learning mandarin, shouldn't i be worked in china? the administration said, no, it's most important, it is our priority that we fully staff the embassy in baghdad and there was a lot of discussion, some of it became public as i mentioned in the chapter and yet the evidence from the cables suggest that officers went willingly wholeheartedly, energyically and established impressive things even without knowledge of arabic, i have been without in-depth knowledge of the region but given the tools that they were given, improvising and being creative and getting out trying to relate to people and i think it's one of public
diplomacies success stories and i understand it's hard to talk about the -- use the word success in iraq in the same sentence because things are still so very much up in the air, but the cables suggest a trajectory of officers who answer the call, were loyal, served and accomplished impressive things. >> you mentioned the assistant secretary of state for educational cultural affairs at the time and then you also mentioned embassador adam -- >> yes. >> fluent in arabic and came on the scene in iraq and how he really got things going in a wide variety of areas, the fullbright schoolships. the sister city exchange programs and it really shows the
scale of this activity that was achieved and also under challenging circumstances, not only challenging circumstances in iraq but also as you're pointing out the rules of the foreign service itself and it was very striking, his mark on that period of iraq. >> we doubled the fullbright program. it had 17 at one point. we did cultural programming. my colleagues put on crowds and were programs that were offered in their own language that they could relax and enjoy. that's an important part of diplomacy too. it's not going to win hearts and minds necessarily and it's not policy based but it's definitely about human outreach and
>> may or may not want to acknowledge is failure took place on their watch. nobody wants the bad news. and bad news happens, a good example of that was karen hughes' visit. karen hughes was very active undersecretary, but she was not always liked by the field and her visits hit sour notes and her penchant for introducing herself as a mom, as a christian to describe the post 9/11 u.s. foreign policy in almost messiahic terms and for non-christian audiences. she tried hard to reach out to
women and women in turkey, indonesia, places like that were culturally very different and i think she did not succeed and i think the embassy was circumspect how it went about reporting that. in their defense, whenever you have a delegation coming and visiting they have the right to clear on the cable, either hand hughes or somebody on her staff would have to clear. you can see they had some work-around. described not the meeting with the public, but meetings she had with ministers. those are pro forma, nothing goes wrong with the minister. she delivered a lot of english language textbooks, wasn't that nice? that says so much because it's not saying more important parts, which is the foreign pill part. or embassies would report to
reporting local media reports of an event. so the fact in turkey you'd had some rocky meetings and the embassy wasn't able to describe those, but the local media did and the embassy did quote the local media, and that was sort of a work-around for them. >> i know those things are challenging. i know ambassador hughes and her intent, of course, was a noble one, and tried to, in a down to earth way impact audiences. and i think it was a tough period when she took that on. you have a section on crises. let's talk a little about that because you have three very different crises. you talk about the earthquake in haiti, as reported in these cables, the cyclone in burma and the coup in honduras. talk about crises diplomacy. what did these cables do or not
do in this regard? >> i think they shed a wonderful light on why taxpayers ought to support embassies overseas. any cnn crew can go to haiti and take footage of the collapse of the ministries and the presidential palace, they're shocking, it tells a story. same with the cyclone in burma, same idea, but you need context, subtext, background, first person accounts and lot of these were situational reports written hour after hour as things unfolded and they weren't classified because there was no means in which to send out classified information because communications were very difficult. this is often true in a crisis, a natural crisis, an earthquake or a cyclone or a flood, the tsunami, would be another example of that. embassy officers are innovative, they're creative, they're dedicated, they don't go home at 5:00.
they are intent on organizing. they understand the bureaucracy of the u.s. government and how the systems can be put in place. they need to connect with the local people if they're available and get acquiescence in this and sort of get an order of precedence so that you don't bring in things ahead of other things and the haiti cables were just a remarkable blueprint for how do you stand up as a team in the face of absolutely overwhelming disaster. we lost a foreign service officer in haiti, lawyer delong and many foreign service nationals at the same time and hundreds of thousands of patients lost their lives, too, but how do you -- what do you do first? well, here is the answer. it's what the embassy did first. was it right?
they have done better? it's debatable, but it's a case study and it's logical. they dealt with what they had. they dealt with the people they could reach. they reached back to the u.s. government and little by little, put haiti back on its feet. they are at the most vulnerable countries in the hemisphere and never arguably gets back on its feet. they put a plan into place remarkably early. you can see as the cables get more routine and more detailed, less anecdotal and no longer dealing with bodies in the street, but systemic issues and they're starting up the garment factories again, they're got the ports operating, the airport's functioning. it's taking less time to go overland. they're bringing in supplies. and it's kind of a testimony to american can-doism. i enjoyed writing this, the haiti crisis because of the
optimistic aspect of it. >> the one on burma had real impact because you also pointed out how the cables and what was written provided a kind of blueprint for an open door for what unfolded later in the context of burma because we had a closed door policy at that time. sanctions on burma and this is a question of providing aid and also getting in and bringing in aid and you, well, articulate how these ironic cables point out the kind of foundation that was laid for later and opening into burma? >> yeah, the stakes were really much higher because there's no question in haiti that we had a very open and historical, longstanding relationship. as you point out, we did not have that in burma. what was so ironic about the
cyclone, the general lack of contact with their people. they had moved the capital away from rangoon. they were actually unaware of the extent of the devastation and damage and very ignorant about what a wholesale humanitarian operation entailed. they assumed they'd clear some flights, bring in pallets of water and that would be it. they didn't understand it required assessment and working with people on the ground. and it's anti-thema -- antethema if you're running totalitarian, and you have foreigners walking around on the ground talking to your people. as the embassy predicted this exposed the fissures in the general's control and
ultimately had a huge impact in the general fall from power and the rise of next which has been a great development for u.s. relations with burma. >> honduras, you juxtapose all of these and honduras was a very different situation over the question of a coup. >> yes. >> say a bit about that. >> well, this is our own back yard, which makes it much less exotic than burma and myanmar. this is a country we know well. congress knows this country well. it's also a country with a troubled past and the history of american intervention, as is true in a lot of the central american countries. right next door we have daniel ortega, the sandistas, the return of daniel ortega and the
hemisphere is shifting and becoming much more anti-american. he was unceremoniously deposed and illegally deposed, i think, no question about it. an illegal maneuver in which he was trying clearly to obtain a second term in office which was not in line with the honduran constitution at the time. some americans, particularly those who were afraid of the trend of chavez and others and the sort of domino effect, thought the coup was probably a good thing in disguise because it allowed for a more conservative administration to come in and it cut off what was clearly going to be an unconstitutional attempt at a second term in office. others, including the administration, president obama and secretary clinton, decried it as unconstitutional and
aaffront to democracy. they consciously kept our ambassador in place to deal with the government, the defacto government at the time and tried to work within the boundaries of the honduran system to reestablish the rule of law. it fascinating because the european union pulled all of its ambassadors, and oes pulled ambassadors and our ambassador remained throughout. the intensity of reporting was almost the intensity of the haiti earthquake reporting. what's happening day by day and asked the colleague in costa rica to serve as a media, and he's part of the process who is saying what to whom and it's a fascinating interior look at a coup, not in the first 24 hours, but in what it means over the long-term and how do
you put the toothpaste back in the tube? how do you get this country back on democratic tracks after a long-- and it was a very prolonged coup and aftermath. >> i know very well, ambassad ambassador, a good friend had a challenge before him, a very, very fine service officer. you had a section on travel. one of the chapters, which is very surprising in a way and it's surprising, but yet, not because anyone who knows the foreign service knows that the most interesting cables at times are the ones when they're out of capital and you gave the example of sirinam, but there's a cable where getting out of the capital and actually getting into the country can make a difference and have a real impact on policy. >> in central asia, one of my favorite areas of reporting for
this, because someone discovered that truck stops are a great place to get information. and this region has many denied areas for american diplomates, particularly iran. and turkmenistan is a border country and the embassy realized that they could sort of set up shop at a turkmen station and chat up the drivers at the cafes on the way in and out and it became something of a listening post. that's fascinating. i love that, again, the intrepidness of it, the ingenuity of it as a work-around. the fact that people got out of their desks, out of the embassy, and out of the building and do what they're paid to do, talk with the people, find out what's going on. you can't sit reading the newspapers and write reports from the newspaper. you have to talk to people.
the drama and vignets that they found were fascinating and they found an iranian garage band which later became the yellow dogs, which achieved some degree of fame in the united states and tragically, many of the musicians in the band were killed by a fellow iranian over a dispute that was not political, but talking to rock guitarists, to video gamers, these are young people in iran and these are people that we will be dealing with more and more in the future, and we need to know them, what they think, their world view, what's important to them, and i was so pleased to see that this was happening. >> there's another side to that story and that's when foreign service officers get out of capital and their security is in jeopardy and one must always be reminded that there are good stories, but there are also stories that are told because they're willing to put their lives on the line and to get
out and about and they don't know what will happen next. and i think that interestingly enough, a number of these cables also point to that fact as well, as you articulate in the book. let me go to this section on frenemies. friends and enemies, the faces of diplomacy. one of the issues that you try to tackle, and i wonder what your answer is, a when american values and american interests come into conflict. how do you grapple with that? how does one grapple with that? and i think there's a spotlight on that aspect of foreign policy here. >> sure. obviously a lot has been written about the mubarak, the hugo chavez, the notorious people who capture the headlines. and the question is you continue to deal with the country, do you stop dealing with the country? how do you deal with the country when you don't like the regime?
and it's a perennial question in foreign policy. your bureau dealt with this on a daily basis, of course. hillary clinton's written a lot about this, too, and how to choose. hopefully we can opt for democracy, we can opt for individual freedom. we don't always win. and power today in zimbabwe. the embassy wrote constantly and relentlessly on his undemocratic streak. on his human rights violations, how he ran the country into ruin economically. a country that had been one of the bread baskets of africa, one of the more functional democracies in africa at one point and how reform gone wrong just tore the country apart. obviously, we don't deal with that, but we want to have a presence in the country.
we want to continue to talk to the people who are going to attempt to challenge the regi regime. we have a mixed track record of encouraging people, hungary would be a case in point going back quite a ways, but other times, too, you have to be careful. we don't want to promise what we can't deliver. we want to stand for what we believe as americans, but we can't be so naive as to simply turn our backs on reality. >> do personalities trump politics? >> or form politics. the chapter was a lot of fun to write because there are a lot of people waiting in the wings that most americans have never heard of and there are some interesting characters out there and they come to power through circuitous and interesting means so when you see hugo chavez, he didn't
come from nowhere. the embassies had been reporting on him for many decades before he rose to power. daniel ortega,'s an old-- we know this guy from way back and nothing should surprise us about daniel ortega anymore, yet, officers come with fresh eyes, and we've seen officers frequently so he's a new experience. his inauguration was no experience for the officers who described in the cables of the antics and hi jinx of that inauguration. and essential to diplomacy, wish one would be debated more in this electoral period because it's important to get at the nuances of that question, american values versus american practical realism and there are many schools of thought on it and
many people have written on this at great length and there are no easy answers, but it troubles me a bit that it's kind of been swept to the side and it's not part of what we're talking about these days when we talk about foreign policy. >> you seem to also have great fun with the section devoted to wild animals and jungle diplomacy as you call it. and interestingly enough with the leaked cables that it also pointed out important roles of nongovernmental organizations in foreign policy and this was an area where they came into play in bringing environmental concerns to the forefront, even despite some of the resistance of certain governments. isn't that one of your core messages in that chapter? >> well, it's something that i don't think is well understood yet. i was astounded at the number of cable, the way wikileaks is set up, write in rhino and out comes hundreds of cables on rhinos.
>> yes, i'm passionate, too, about wild life and rhinos and it's interesting how the embassy chose to write about these. it isn't trivial. it's important. but there are national wildlife and conservatory organizations that have amazing budgets and amazing personnel, staffs that are creme de la creme in terms of people with all the education and background to really deal with these issues and when these organizations choose to set up shop and turn their backs on the government or are frustrated with governments that don't seem to share their mission and their commitment and they have the resources at their disposal to operate without government consent, it should give us pause. nobody elected the wildlife fund. they do good work.
nature conservancy, same thing. and their assets outstrip the assets of many africa countries in terms of their holdings. are all of their decisions in the interest of the country itself? this is perhaps for another book, another writer, another person who is interested in this, but i was interested that this new generation of diplomates is passionate about wildlife and the environment and getting out of embassies and seeing reality on the ground. >> that certainly came out, it really jumped out. two other chapters you had, you had a chapter devoted to corruption and procurement and you had a chapter devoted to secretary clinton during her tenure and your conclusions at the end. let me on those two remaining chapters ask you, in terms of
corruption, i would say definitively there's a real service that these cables have performed and have made. certainly in terms of tracking elections. shed some light on that. i know myself as having been an election observer how crucial it is to have that information before observing an election, for example. >> and that's the embassy cable on elections because we describe the atmospherics behind it as well as the technical operations of it, you know, what constitute free and fair, how do we measure it, what's the yardstick for that and how do we assess the outcomes. embassies don't write just on the day of the election, there's usually several months of reporting that goes along in advance because the democracy to operate, they need to advise and have equal access to media. these things are not a foregone conclusion in a lot of places in the world, but the flavor
they added and anecdotes they described as well when things would go wrong, how local election officials would work to solve them, was interesting and spoke to human resourcefulness. and the reality of elections in places where you can't count on reliable electricity or elections taking place in ukraine in the middle of winter and people coming in on horse drawn sleighs. >> and what do you do when you see a family member voting for 30 members of his clan, it happens in uzbekistan and one man one vote, one clan. it's a different view. the oec doesn't bother, the standards are so different. how can you close this gap?
how can you suggest a way forward for a country that's clearly in transition and clearly has a long way to go and what you make from an election when a member of congress simply says, well, was it free and fair? yes or no. that really doesn't get at it. you need a lot more context in order to understand what's happening. i've seen elections in latin america and also in the czech republic and, yeah, there are a lot interesting differences about that and one of the more interesting tasks of embassy offices and people from washington who often join us, we go out to these polling places to see how transpires on the ground. >> before we conclude, i want to focus on two questions, and one related to the last chapter on hillary clinton and also, something that you cite relevant to condoleezza rice and that's this concept of
transformational diplomacy. define what it is for our viewers and also, where is it now? it was something that was announced by secretary rice and that continued on during secretary clinton's term at the state department. where is it now? where do you see it going? what is it and where is it going? >> i think that was one of secretary rice's most fundamental contributions, her two speeches at georgetown, but the first one in particular. she cast this in terms everyone could understand. look, we have as many embassy officers in germany as we have in india, a country of a billion people. how can that be? hard to argue with. she began a redeployment and suddenly the officers weren't going to india and haiti, certainly weren't going to germany anymore, but diverted to iraq, but that idea that we needed to rethink the globe and
leave the post-war era, leave the post-communist transformation era and look at the world in a completely different way, was something that she really kicked off and secretary clinton. it's not like think hear going to get a lot of promotions going from paris to london to rome, if they were allowed to do that, which is doubtful. the exciting work and where a lot of cables come from is a lot of places people have to look up on the map to find and we're going to be spending more and more time and i think more personnel in those places because those are the cutting edge ever american policy and interestmen interest. >> let's conclude, the three pleas at the end. your three recommendations going forward?
>> well, i do believe that the cables ought to be declassified. they're out there on the internet and what's happened now is that international students, professors, students of diplomacy have access to them. american students if they aspire to the foreign service may feel a little less sure having any kind of academic deep dive into them and i think the cat is out of the bag. let's just go ahead. i also think that we need professional leadership in public diplomacy. many of the other branches of the state department have been extraordinarily well served by officers who have come up through the ranks, worked in the field for decade and then assumed leadership in undersecretary rolls. we've had some excellent political appointees as well. unfortunately, public diplomacy is one in which the turnover has been too rapid, the depth
of expertise and the commitment of a lot of the undersecretaries of diplomacy have left the field poorly served. i wish at some point the next administration would consider pulling somebody from the rank of the public diplomacy specialists and accepting one in a leadership role on that. >> you've written up an excellent book. i'm going to put it up at this time. it's very thoughtful. any student of foreign policy and practitioner of foreign policy, it's not only informative, but fascinating. i've learned things that even though i had 25 years in government that i learned from this book and really, thank you so much for your contribution. >> thank you, undersecretary. it's been fun chatting with you. >> thank you, like-wise.
>> and welcome to book tv's live coverage of day two of the southern festival of books in downtown nashville. several authors ahead for you today. kelly oliver's examination of welcome are represented in the media and joseph beck's memoir, my father and atticus finch. first, here are two authorities talking about race and equality. perry wallace the first american babble player in the sec and ansley erickson has written about racial inequalities in education. this is book tv's live coverage of the southern festival of books in nashville. good afternoon, and welcome to our sessio