I had a slightly different perspective on the attack on Libya last month. It felt really personal to me I had a real face to connect to the atrocity and drive the terrorism home. Our friend and neighbor Mark works for the State Department and has spent the last 23 years of his life on diplomatic missions including his most recent in Iraq. When I have read articles about Chris Stevens since the attack, they all describe traits that are also clearly present in Mark and I am so saddened by this awful turn of events- knowing the goodness that has been lost.
Mark is an amazing person. His warmth is so felt, and each conversation with him is incredibly eye opening and insightful. Nia his wife, is from the Republic of Georgia,where a new parliament was just elected last month. This marks the first time in the history of that nation where power is being transferred peaceably by election.Democracy is beginning to take hold. She is equally as fascinating to talk to, as her world perspective is so broad and different from what I am accustomed to. We had dinner with them this past weekend, and I was able to ask Mark questions that were infinitely more helpful than what the newspapers or internet can give me.
As if the night wasn't shaping up well enough for this little homeschooling-housewife-mother-of-ten they invited another couple along- one who currently works for the Fed, the other who works for the IMF. I am pretty certain the only way to make this night any better would be to invite Paul Ryan himself!
Fred and I got a chance to ask Tom, (the Fed guy) about QE1, QE2, and the soon to be QE3. (Turns out he thinks Dodd Frank wasn't the best idea either and he is a Democrat- for the record). He also spoke about soft landings versus hard landings when it comes to Economic policies that affect all of us.So from his perspective QE1 was necessary, but as you get down the road and continue it has less impact.
And it turns out the best thing going for someone who works at the IMF is an ability to write and communicate well, according to Catherine. Its not simply about numbers, but about being able to translate ideas about monetary policy into many different languages. I won't bore you all too much more about politics and Economics, but I did ask Mark to answer for my readers this question.I asked if he would think of five points that he would like average Americans to understand about these diplomatic missions we run around the globe. What in his years of experience has he taken away from all of it? I'll list his points below, which he graciously allowed me to share with all of you.
1- The people of Middle Eastern nations are genuinely good and have suffered so much under extreme regimes run by fanatics. We should be careful not to lump them all together with the loudest voices among them.
2- There is tremendous gratitude for what the American presence is trying to accomplish in most nations among the people, despite the fact that their leaders will not speak it. The people know Americans are good and are trying to help them and are very appreciative of it.
3- Just as Americans are complicated, so too are the people of other nations. It takes time and patience to cultivate an understanding that will lead to friendship. We have to be willing to invest in long term goals that help other nations because its the right thing to do.
4-America is the indispensable nation. It’s not about the oil. That is a cynical and overly simplistic attitude. American ideals of freedom and democracy are what is encouraged at grassroots levels in a million ways that makes a difference in many lives and ultimately in world peace.
5- Ignorance is the greatest enemy of peace.The Arab spring happened mainly because of the internet. The ability to get information and understanding quickly and easily is changing the world rapidly.Lastly, I would just like to add a THANK YOU to Mark for his willingness and dedication to serve our nation in its diplomatic efforts.I am grateful. May God Bless and keep you all!