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...just coming back to the dorm from dinner, when a classmate came running to tell me “Somebody shot your President!” We listened to whatever radio we could find, but the news from across the Atlantic was confused, contradictory -- it was not clear what his situation was.

Later, as I was trying to study, the Dorm Master came in to tell us “President Kennedy is dead.” Silently, I rose from my desk and went to my room. The next morning, the dozen American students had all twisted black socks around our arms in sign of mourning.
I can never forget.

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In fact, most of them are already here.  

Since 2002, in compliance with our international obligations under the 1990 Copenhagen Agreement of the Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE), the United States has welcomed international observers to our national elections, and this year is no exception.  

Operating under the organizational auspices of OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), a Limited Election Observation Mission has been operating from offices in Washington, D.C. since early October, with a Core Team of 13 experts from 10 OSCE participating States.  There are also 44 Long-Term Observers, from 18 countries including Germany, the UK, Denmark, Switzerland and France among others, deployed in teams of two around the country to cover some 40 states.  Closer to Election Day, legislators and Members of Parliament from OSCE states will also come to observe the United States elections under the same organization.

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Wed Aug 03, 2011 at 05:00 AM PDT

Further Proof of Inequality

by stevenwag

As Washington wakes up from its tea-induced frenzy of hostage-taking, ultimatums, voting suspense and high-velocity spinning, it's refreshing to see a simple illustration of exactly what progressives (and most Democrats) have been complaining about, without much success, for so long.  It's on the Economy & Business page of Tuesday's Washington Post.  I'll explain below.

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Thu Oct 29, 2009 at 08:13 AM PDT

IGTNT:  Democracy Workers in Kabul

by stevenwag

Two fighters for democracy lost their lives in Kabul this week, two people I worked with, and I am shattered.  

We have all heard of the attack Wednesday on a guest house in Kabul which accommodated UN staffers.  Five colleagues died in the attack, and we mourn them all.  But the saddest part, for me, was the news that two of those killed were UN Volunteers who were serving in Afghanistan to assist the organization of democratic elections.

Since many Kossacks worked as volunteers in last year's elections (and some are still active in places like Maine or Virginia or New Jersey), I wanted to share a little about our brothers and sisters from around the world who put their heart and soul -- and their lives -- on the line for democracy, and all too often receive scant recognition from their homeland or their host country, not to mention from the United States.  They are our allies, our foot soldiers in the struggle for democracy, and they are precious to me.  I hope they will impress you too.

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Sat Jul 12, 2008 at 08:33 PM PDT

Where is McCain’s Foreign Policy?

by stevenwag

I can’t find it.  That makes it difficult to decide how I feel about what he wants our role in the world to be.  On the other hand, Senator Obama’s policy choices are easy to find, and therefore fairly easy to judge.

I am a foreign affairs professional (started out as a Peace Corps Volunteer, now retired after nearly 30 years as a Foreign Service Officer in the State Department and overseas, working on African and European Affairs, democracy and human rights, followed by service with multilateral organizations including the OSCE and the United Nations).  I care deeply about America’s standing in the world, which has (how shall I put it?) suffered in recent years.  So I tend to judge candidates for President through that lens, at least in part (although as I advance in years I am paying greater attention to domestic issues like health care).

There have been a number of diaries and other comments in past weeks about the relative strengths of the candidates on foreign policy.  So I thought I would look for what the candidates themselves say they want to do.  It has not been easy, and that's instructive.

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