I have always had big ideas and perhaps an overgrown sense of my own ability to realize them. Despite the fact that I have a steady job, I have sought satisfaction more from seeking to promote certain ideas and projects. A couple I have written about in earlier postings: my desire to hold a major conference on global governance and to advance this concept as a central organizing principal of US foreign policy; more recently my hope to form an organization dedicated to insuring the security of the 2016 Rio Olympics. However, neither of these ideas has gone beyond the proposal stage. They have failed to elicit the kind of support needed to carry them forward. I think they are still good ideas, but nobody was really willing to embrace them to the point of taking some small steps forward. I believe I deluded myself into thinking that good ideas will always find their outlet. This is probably due to the fact that in my life I have in fact brought about some important projects and ideas that have given me a lot of personal satisfaction. They are scattered throughout my career and perhaps I have overblown their importance. In my work as a diplomat and as a nonprofit manager, I accomplished the following things:
- Played a major role carrying out a contingency plan written by me that reversed a military coup in the Dominican Republic in 1978
- Negotiated the 1980 UNGA resolution that gave birth to the country of Belize
- Worked closely with the US Ambassador to Bolivia to move that country, between 1981-82, from a military "narco-dictatorship" to a civilian democracy
- Planned and worked the diplomatic side in Bolivia of the 1982 capture and repatriation to Italy of a major neo-fascist terrorist, drug dealer and torturer
- The latter directly resulted in the capture in Bolivia and repatriation to France of Klaus Barbie, the Nazi "Butcher of Lyon." I subsequently assisted the Department of Justice in figuring out how Barbie had arrived in Bolivia, including securing is travel documents
- Inspired and saw carried to completion a public plaza in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for my greatest hero, Raoul Wallenberg
- Wrote the plan that led to the dismantling of the Cali Cartel in Colombia
- Assured that the First Summit of the Americas contained a section on narcotics control
- Contributed to the success of the 1995 Guatemalan Presidential elections through a program of voter education that laid the groundwork for a peace accord between the government and rebel factions
- Established significant democracy promotion programs in Haiti in 1994-96 following the US intervention in that country
- After retiring from the Foreign Service, I took over control of the nonprofit organization operating at the home of Eleanor Roosevelt in 1996, following a period of its decline. However, taking advantage of the popularity of Doris Kearns Goodwin's No Ordinary Time and the impetus given to women from the 1995 Beijing Summit, I expanded its activities many fold, carrying out a number of national programs in the areas of women's empowerment, human rights and the United Nations. I am also responsible for the organization acquiring a new building for its operations on the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site.
These accomplishments have led me to believe that with correct insight, a strong will and with the wind blowing in the right direction, almost anything is possible. What I probably have not been willing to admit is that the wind is not always blowing in your sails when you want it. As a result, my recent attempts to "start something" have not moved ahead, or if you will, have failed. So just as I was getting frustrated with failure, I decided that I may have had another fate-yes I believe in fate--to go to Afghanistan as a member of the civilian "surge" in President Barack Obama's new Afghan policy. I am now still working on that although given my age and some health issues, this may not be possible.
So, although I still have a decently paying job, a wonderful wife and two grown children of whom I am proud and love and a dear Mother whom I moved this year to live close to us in Virgina, I am now still looking for some good ideas and projects to keep my spirits up in the New Year. May it be a happy one!