William Polk on John Bolton and Dangers Ahead

The dismaying announcements of the president and the White House during the past week have left many of us stunned and speechless, if one excludes the expletives uttered. William Polk, however, has set forth his concerns in an impassioned message to frends. I agree with his assessments and his description of their implications. This is the message received from him today:
Continue reading

Posted in In the United States, In the World, Musings and Polemics | Leave a comment

Europe, Indian Ocean & Southeast Asia Grand Adventure

Rebecca and Jack Matlock plan (God willing!) to do some cruises this fall. We have found some that seem of exceptional value that go to places we like and some places we have never been. We would be delighted if some of our special friends can get away to cruise with us. Full description of the cruises are at the links below. If one cannot get away for the full 38 days of the first cruise, it is available in two segments, from London to Rome (Cittavechio) and from there to Singapore.

First Cruise: Indian Ocean & Europe Grand Adventure
From London (Southampton), England to Singapore
October 21-November 28, 2018
NOTE: This cruise is also available in two segments: London to Rome and Rome to Singapore.

Sapphire Princess route from Sun, Oct 21 to Nov. 28, 2018

Second Cruise: Southeast Asia Grand Adventure
Roundtrip from Singapore
November 28 to December 18, 2018

Sapphire Princess route from Wed, Nov 28, 2018 to Dec. 18, 2018

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bacevich on 24 Key Issues That Neither the Washington Elite Nor the Media Consider Worth Their Bother

Andrew J. Bacevich has compiled an important list of the issues our principal media outlets have either ignored or given scant attention to. I could add at least a dozen more, and will if time and leisure allow. But now I would urge readers to contemplate Bacevich’s list: Continue reading

Posted in In the United States, In the World, Musings and Polemics | Leave a comment

Contacts with Russian Embassy

Our press seems to be in a feeding frenzy regarding contacts that President Trump’s supporters had with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak and with other Russian diplomats. The assumption seems to be that there was something sinister about these contacts, just because they were with Russian diplomats. As one who spent a 35-year diplomatic career working to open up the Soviet Union and to make communication between our diplomats and ordinary citizens a normal practice, I find the attitude of much of our political establishment and of some of our once respected media outlets quite incomprehensible. What in the world is wrong with consulting a foreign embassy about ways to improve relations? Anyone who aspires to advise an American president should do just that.

Yesterday I received four rather curious questions from Mariana Rambaldi of Univision Digital. I reproduce below the questions and the answers I have given. Continue reading

Posted in In the United States, In the World, Musings and Polemics | 7 Comments

What Vladimir Putin Could Explain to Donald Trump

The telephone conversation last Saturday between the American and Russian presidents seems to have been amicable and constructive, at least in a general sense. They are reported to have discussed key world issues as potential partners, not as adversaries or enemies. That is important, for there is no reason to perpetuate the false image that has arisen of late that the two countries are on a collision course. Actually, at the most fundamental level, Russian and American interests are compatible—in many cases identical. Continue reading

Posted in In the United States, In the World, Musings and Polemics | 1 Comment


As one who advised President Reagan on how to end the Cold War, I welcome your plans to discuss US-Russian relations tomorrow, January 28. Relations have reached a state that is dangerous for both our countries and, in fact, the entire world. One brief conversation cannot resolve the contentions issues, but it can reject the widespread but false assumption that the fundamental interests of our two countries are in conflict. Continue reading

Posted in In the United States, In the World | Leave a comment

Iran, Israel and The Treaty: Wisdom of Uri Avnery

Uri Avnery remains a voice of reason and wisdom in the cacophony of arguments following the announcement of the agreement to limit and monitor Iran’s nuclear activities. His informed (by history), erudite but straightforward comment is the most valuable I have seen in putting the agreement in perspective and exposing the self-defeating illusions that fuel the Netanyahu opposition. Here it is in full: Continue reading

Posted in In the World, Musings and Polemics | Leave a comment

William Polk’s “A Fable for Our Times”

Inspired by Cervantes, William Polk has written a trenchant and appropriate description of our contemporary Don Quixotes and Sancho Panzas. Read, laugh, and then weep.

A Fable for Our Times

It was over half a century ago that I first read Cervantes’ marvelous novel, Don Quixote de la Mancha. I was then studying at the University of Chile, trying to learn Spanish, and Don Quixote was the first novel I remember reading. Or, to be honest, “reading at” because my Spanish was still weak and the text is full of unfamiliar expressions. Also, I was very young and did not know enough about the world to understand fully what Cervantes was saying. But, he had a remarkable gift of writing on different levels. His tale could be enjoyed as just a good story or more profoundly. So, despite my shortcomings, he caught me in his magical web. A few years later, somewhat better equipped, I dipped into Don Quixote again in a delightful course on satire I was taking as an undergraduate at Harvard.

So now I have gone back. Continue reading

Posted in In the United States, In the World, Musings and Polemics | Leave a comment

Is Nemtsov’s Murder a Replay of Kirov’s?

Responding to the shock of the gang-style execution of Nemtsov in Moscow, Duma Deputy Ilya Ponomarev, speaking at Tufts University yesterday, said that it reminded him of the Kirov assassination, and predicted that the effect on Russian politics might be of comparable magnitude. I did not have the opportunity to question him directly about what precisely he had in mind, but I gathered from his other remarks that he believes the crime was prompted by a struggle for power within the Putin regime. After all, Stalin used the Kirov murder to launch the infamous purges that reached their height in the trials of 1938 and is widely suspected of having arranged the murder himself.

Russian politics for some time has resembled the proverbial dog fight under a rug, despite the image promoted by the regime of a seamless and efficient “vertical of power.” Continue reading

Posted in In the World, Musings and Polemics, Uncategorized | 2 Comments


I have been amazed that so many people whose judgment I respect have criticized President Obama’s decision not to go to the mass demonstration in Paris following the shootings at Charlie Hebdo and the kosher grocery. It was appropriate to have the American ambassador in Paris represent us. After all, an ambassador is the personal representative of the president, authorized to represent the president in all respects—that’s what “plenipotentiary” means in the formal title. (When I was ambassador to the Soviet Union I was designated to represent President George H.W. Bush at Andrei Sakharov’s funeral.)

Of course, I am as outraged as anyone at the wanton murders that occurred in and near Paris last week. Continue reading

Posted in In the United States, In the World, Musings and Polemics | Leave a comment