American journalist and former Department of State official, Ronan Farrow, joined Sean O’Rourke on the line this morning. Farrow recently won a Pulitzer prize for his work writing for The New Yorker about the sexual abuse allegations concerning producer Harvey Weinstein. Farrow’s first book, War On Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence stems from his experiences working in the realm of diplomacy. And it’s fair to say it’s comprehensive. Farrow interviewed every living former Secretary of State for the work.
Farrow’s time at the Department of State fell under the tenure of the late Richard Holbrooke, a man renowned for continuing conversations he was passionate about, regardless of where they were taking place.
“Everyone had a story of Richard Holbrooke continuing meetings into bathrooms. Hilary Clinton told the story for all the years since of how he followed her into a ladies room in Pakistan he was so enthusiastically briefing her on one occasion.”
Farrow says he saw how Holbrooke and diplomats, in general, were “marginalised” during this time. It’s the central tenet of his book that military voices have taken over where diplomats once stood. It’s a worry for him when it comes to a diplomatic event like President Donald Trump’s upcoming meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“The problem with this one-on-one leader-to-leader negotiation is…there’s a very real risk that you get played and you legitimise North Korea as a nuclear power...We don’t have experts shaping this process. The East-Asia specialists at the State Department, of whom there are fewer and fewer…they are not being heard in this at all.”
Farrow described the Weinstein case as a “tremendously difficult story”.
“There was a lot of intimidation. There were a lot of threats right around that…You know, people I trusted turned on me. And powerful forces and law enforcement and media became, you know, instruments of suppression…Therefore, it’s hard for this to feel like a victory lap. You know, it’s very apparent that a lot of those systems are still intact.“
Listen back to the full interview on Today with Sean O’Rourke here.
Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic for Getty Images.
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