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Will Republicans Maintain America’s Honor?

The current political situation is bringing back some bad memories from my days in the Foreign Service.

The last time the Republicans took over Congress, with Newt Gingrich in the mid-1990’s, they cut off funding for one of the main scientific cooperation projects I was working on in Warsaw, Poland, although the US had signed an agreement to fund it for five years just before I got there a year or two earlier. A senior official in the Polish foreign ministry used to call me in periodically and berate me because the US had failed to honor its promise. As a Southerner who grew up with a strong dose of the importance of “honor,” I really didn’t like it.
Then the State Department asked me to go to Rome, and the Republicans shut down the government on the very day my wife and I were leaving. We had moved out of our house in Warsaw, had everything in the car ready to drive to Rome, when the Embassy in Rome called at about 4:30 pm and said, “Don’t leave; we don’t have money to pay for the trip.” That left us on the street in Warsaw with no place to live. It turned out that the DCM (deputy chief of mission, the Ambassador’s deputy) in Rome was a friend from a prior tour in Brasilia. When I spoke to him, he said, “Come on, we’ll work it out.” But the whole thing left a very bad taste in my mouth.
Then when we got to Rome, one of my responsibilities was the nuclear agreement with North Korea. Again, the Republicans refused to fund all of the American obligations under the agreement; so, one of my jobs was to go hat in hand to the Italian government, who at that time held the Presidency of the European Union, and ask them to fund some of the things that we wouldn’t, so that the US would not be in violation of its agreement with North Korea.
That’s one of the reasons I retired. I didn’t want to represent a government that would not honor its promises.

Does the current batch of Republicans in the House have any concept of honor? We’ll see. Back in the 1990’s one of the Republican complaints about the Democrats was that because they had no business experience, the Democrats did not know how to “meet a payroll.” Then, it turned out that it was the Republicans who didn’t know how to meet a payroll, or honor their legal, treaty obligations.

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