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Foreign Policy Casualties
Derek Chollet is the Principal Deputy Director of the Secretary’s Policy Planning Staff. Prior to joining the State Department, he was a Senior Fellow at The Center for a New American Security (CNAS), a non-resident fellow in the Brookings Institution’s Global Economy and Development Program and an adjunct associate professor at Georgetown University. During the Bill Clinton administration, he served in the State Department in several capacities, including as Chief Speechwriter for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke, and Special Adviser to Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott. Mr. Chollet also assisted former Secretaries of State James A. Baker III and Warren Christopher with the research and writing of their memoirs, Holbrooke with his book on the Dayton peace process in Bosnia, and Talbott with his book on U.S.-Russian relations during the 1990s. He was foreign policy adviser to Senator John Edwards (D-N.C.), both on his legislative staff and during the 2004 Kerry/Edwards presidential campaign.
Mr. Chollet has been a Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin and a visiting scholar and adjunct professor at The George Washington University. He is the author, co-author or coeditor of five books on American foreign policy, including The Road to the Dayton Accords: A Study of American Statecraft (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005) and America Between the Wars: From 11/9 to 9/11, coauthored with James Goldgeier (PublicAffairs, 2008). His commentaries and reviews on U.S. foreign policy and politics have appeared in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Financial Times, Washington Monthly, and many other books and publications. Educated at Cornell and Columbia, Mr. Chollet was raised in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Topic: Foreign Policy Casualties
Derek Chollet: The history of Somalia is actually in itself pretty interesting because it was a humanitarian mission, there was a huge food crisis in Somalia in 1992, George H.W. Bush is still president, and there are images of people dying on TV and mass starvation, Bill Clinton wins the election in November 1992. A few weeks after that Brent Skowcroft, who was still the national security advisor, George H.W. Bush is a lame duck, he’s just packing up, Brent Skowcroft calls Sandy Berger, who was then a top advisor to Clinton on a transition who will then later become the national security advisor to Clinton, and Skowcroft says to Sandy Berger, “I’m just calling to let you know that in the next few days we’re going to announce that we’re going to be deploying 20,000 U.S. troops to Somalia to help feed people there, and you don’t have to worry about it because they’re all going to be gone by the time Clinton’s inaugurated,” you know, the end of January, “We’re not asking you, we’re just going to do this. So thanks.” Remarkable, right? It was a Republican president using American troops to go into a country that few Americans could probably have found on a map, poor destitute place in Africa, on a purely humanitarian mission, to feed people. The Clinton administration supported it. In many ways this was a perfect example of the use of U.S. power in the world. They hoped it could be something that would succeed and we could build on and the idea the U.S. could use its power to help do good things. Feed people. Well the history of Somalia got more complicated. Once we were there, there was a question of how we could leave without letting the problem just return. It got mixed up with sort of what the U.N.’s role and our decision-making was going to be. The U.N. had the force that went in there. The U.S. force was under a U.N. mandate. There were all sorts of questions about did the U.N. have a role in sort of ordering our troops around, which they didn’t, but it became part of the lore from Somalia, and the Clinton administration basically got blindsided. It shouldn’t have been blindsided because it was 10 months into office. It was October 1993 but 19 Americans were killed in a massive firefight in the crowded streets of Mogadishu that’s been immortalized in the book and the movie, Blackhawk Down.
Question: Was there any excuse for not going into Rwanda?
Derek Chollet: In retrospect, Bill Clinton himself has apologized to the people of Rwanda for not intervening there. I think one of the things we tried to deal with during this period that is a theme that in many ways runs throughout our book is trying to figure out in a world where there isn’t a clear enemy, like the Soviets, what acceptable costs would be for U.S. action. Cost in lives, which is the most important cost, but cost also in terms of treasure, how much money we’re going to spend, and also time and attention and political capital. That’s a struggle that the Clinton administration had, it’s a struggle that conservatives who were outside of the executive branch but in the Congress had, trying to calibrate what is that we should be doing that’s an acceptable cost to the American people and relative to other things we want to do, whether it’s other things in the world or other things here at home. I think clearly the story of these years as we go back through them shows that that was a struggle we didn’t always sort of handle very well. Now during the current administration you have almost in response to the difficulty during those years, there is a sense that there is no price too high, that we will do whatever it takes. I think now we’re seeing both liberals and conservatives sort of take a step back at that and say well, wait a second. Should we rethink this? Is it true that we don’t have to worry about how much we’re spending on the war in Iraq, whether in terms of the spending being the cost of our men and women in uniform or the dollars that we’re spending on it? The next president will have to deal with this issue of cost and it will be very much framed by the enormous costs we’ve carried in the last few years.
Question: Does foreign policy need to be de-politicized?
Derek Chollet: It’s interesting, with the end of the Cold War and the fights that we describe that played out in the 1990s, there was more and more nostalgia for the so-called Cold War consensus in the idea that it was during the Cold War, Republicans and Democrats could stand together. They certainly had fights and it was politics but there were certain things that they would agree on, politics stopped at the water’s edge. I think there might be some misplaced nostalgia for that. The politics during the McCarthy era was pretty hardball. Politics during the Vietnam years is pretty hardball. The Nixon years are certainly pretty hardball. So we shouldn’t have sort of lionize, glorify that era too much. But I think it is true, and it might have been because of the sense that the world mattered less during the 1990s, but that people were more willing to play politics with foreign policy than they otherwise might have been, to use sort of foreign policy debates and arguments as a weapon to beat up their opponents. They might have been more willing to do that during the ‘90s than they would have been earlier. But what we try to do in this book is show how it is hard to understand foreign policy and the debates about foreign policy and America’s role in the world without understanding the politics of the moment. What we want to do in the book is show the intersection of these two, because it’s not only important to understand the 1990s and these years between the fall of the wall and 9/11, but it’s important to understand where we are today and where we’ve been in the last few years because foreign policy and politics are, in a democracy, intertwined. So in that sense, because leaders are elected, the president is accountable to people, the Congress is accountable to people, politics and foreign policy are always going to be interrelated.
Recorded on: 07/08/2008
Derek Chollet explains the Rwandan genocide as a result of a foreign policy too easily swayed by politics.
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Gender and sexual minority populations are experiencing rising anxiety and depression rates during the pandemic.
- Anxiety and depression rates are spiking in the LGBTQ+ community, and especially in individuals who hadn't struggled with those issues in the past.
- Overall, depression increased by an average PHQ-9 score of 1.21 and anxiety increased by an average GAD-7 score of 3.11.
- The researchers recommended that health care providers check in with LGBTQ+ patients about stress and screen for mood and anxiety disorders—even among those with no prior history of anxiety or depression.
Study findings<p>For the study, <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11606-020-05970-4" target="_blank">published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine</a><em>, </em>Flentje and her team evaluated survey responses from nearly 2,300 individuals who identified as being in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) community. Most of the participants were white, while nearly 19 percent identified as a racial or ethnic minority. Multiple genders were represented with cisgender women (27.2 percent) and men (24.6 percent) making up a majority of the participants. Sixty-three percent had been assigned female at birth. For the most part, participants identified their sexual orientations as queer (40.3 percent), gay (36.5 percent), and bisexual (30.3 percent).</p><p>The JGIM study participants were recruited from the 18,000-participant <a href="https://pridestudy.org/" target="_blank">PRIDE Study</a> (Population Research in Identity and Disparities for Equality), which is the first large-scale, long-term national study focusing on American adults who identify as LGBTQ+. It conducts annual questionnaires to understand factors related to health and disease in this population. </p><p>Participants filled out an annual questionnaire (starting in June 2019) and a COVID-19 impact survey this past spring. Flentje noted that on an individual level, some people may not have experienced a big change in anxiety or depression levels, but for others there was. Overall, depression increased by a <a href="https://patient.info/doctor/patient-health-questionnaire-phq-9" target="_blank">PHQ-9 score</a> of 1.21, putting it at 8.31 on average. Anxiety went up by a <a href="https://www.mdcalc.com/gad-7-general-anxiety-disorder-7" target="_blank">GAD-7</a> score of 3.11 to an average of 8.89. Interestingly, the average PHQ-9 scores for those who screened positive for depression at the first 2019 survey decreased by 1.08. Those who screened negative for depression saw their PHQ-9 scores increase by 2.17 on average. As for anxiety, researchers detected no GAD-7 change among the study participants who screened positive for anxiety in the first survey, but did see an overall increase of 3.93 among those who had initially been evaluated as negative for the disorder. </p>
Risks among gender and sexual minorities<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fc3fd1ae68b77bbbf58a6995638d6d65"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EnUqDjCqg0A?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>The LGBTQ+ community is a vulnerable population to mental health concerns because of their fear of stigmatization and previous discriminatory experiences.</p> <p>Previous research by the Human Rights Campaign has found "that LGBTQ Americans are more likely than the <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/general+population/" target="_blank">general population</a> to live in poverty and lack access to adequate medical care, paid <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/medical+leave/" target="_blank">medical leave</a>, and basic necessities during the pandemic," said researcher Tari Hanneman, director of the health and aging program at the campaign.</p> <p>"Therefore, it is not surprising to see this increase in anxiety and depression among this population," Hanneman said in the release. "This study highlights the need for <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/health+care+professionals/" target="_blank">health care professionals</a> to support, affirm and provide <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/critical+care/" target="_blank">critical care</a> for the LGBTQ community to manage and maintain their mental health, as well as their physical health, during this pandemic."</p>
What should health care providers do?<p>The authors of the study recommend that health care providers check in with LGBTQ+ patients about stress and screen for mood and anxiety disorders in members of that community—even among those with no prior history of anxiety or depression.</p><p>As cases of COVID-19 continue to mount, the sustained social distancing, potential isolation, economic precariousness, and personal illness, grief, and loss are bound to have increased and varied impacts on mental health. Effective treatments may include individual therapy and medications as well as more large-scale coronavirus support programs like peer-led groups and mindfulness practices. </p><p>"It will be important to find out what happens over time and to identify who is most at risk, so we can be sure to roll out public health interventions to support the mental health of our communities in the best and most effective ways," said Flentje.</p>
What we know about black holes is both fascinating and scary.
- When it comes to black holes, science simultaneously knows so much and so little, which is why they are so fascinating. Focusing on what we do know, this group of astronomers, educators, and physicists share some of the most incredible facts about the powerful and mysterious objects.
- A black hole is so massive that light (and anything else it swallows) can't escape, says Bill Nye. You can't see a black hole, theoretical physicists Michio Kaku and Christophe Galfard explain, because it is too dark. What you can see, however, is the distortion of light around it caused by its extreme gravity.
- Explaining one unsettling concept from astrophysics called spaghettification, astronomer Michelle Thaller says that "If you got close to a black hole there would be tides over your body that small that would rip you apart into basically a strand of spaghetti that would fall down the black hole."
The team caught a glimpse of a process that takes 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.
- In Italy, a team of scientists is using a highly sophisticated detector to hunt for dark matter.
- The team observed an ultra-rare particle interaction that reveals the half-life of a xenon-124 atom to be 18 sextillion years.
- The half-life of a process is how long it takes for half of the radioactive nuclei present in a sample to decay.
A new study looks at what would happen to human language on a long journey to other star systems.
- A new study proposes that language could change dramatically on long space voyages.
- Spacefaring people might lose the ability to understand the people of Earth.
- This scenario is of particular concern for potential "generation ships".