Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ambassador Robert S. Strauss: A Saved Newspaper Clipping

Sorting through my personal papers, I recently came across a newspaper clipping of an article published by the New York Times on August 24, 1991 concerning the assumption by Bob Strauss of the post of U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union.  I rarely save newspaper clippings.  Two months later, on October 29, 1991, my employment at Bob Strauss's law firm was abruptly terminated.

I had underlined the passage highlighted in yellow, below, and I added the marginal notation "Wiseacre commentators!"

The highlighted passage is psychologically revealing.  It suggests my identification with over-achievers or people whose potential is discounted, whose ability to overcome seeming deficiencies is undervalued.  Speaking metaphorically (but not simply metaphorically) I identify with the 5'9" star basketball player.

Ambassador Robert Strauss of the United States, who rushed to the Soviet Union at the height of coup, said today that he would return home next week and present his credentials in Moscow in September as originally planned.

Mr. Strauss refused to present his credentials to the hard-line coup government after arriving here on Wednesday and has not formally taken his post.

At a brief news conference, he declined to comment on Government changes in the wake of the coup but said, "It seems to me, really, that the winners are the principles that this country, our country, stands for -- the principles of human rights and of freedom and democracy."

"The forces that the United States feels so strongly about have had a great victory," Mr. Strauss said.

Meeting With Shevardnadze

He said he had met with former Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze and Mayor Gavriil K. Popov of Moscow, and had tentative meetings planned with President Mikhail S. Gorbachev and with President Boris N. Yeltsin of the Russian republic.

American officials had no advance warning of the coup, Mr. Strauss said, adding: "And I don't think that the people in this Government had any warning it was going to happen. Do I think we have good intelligence? Yes."

Mr. Strauss, a 72-year-old lawyer, alluded to criticism of his appointment on grounds that his decades in Washington and Texas had not prepared him for the complexities of the Soviet Union. "I said to President Bush when he was questioning me about it, 'While I'm no expert on these things, I'm an expert on people,' " he said.

"I've walked these streets," Mr. Strauss said, "and I've looked at people. There is something in the air here. These are happy people. With all the problems that they have, with all the suffering, there are more smiles and there is more bounce on the street in Moscow than there are in most cities of the world.

"These people know they have something, they have earned something. It's theirs because hey earned it."

Mr. Shevardnadze, a leading Soviet reformer, expressed thanks for United States backing during the coup, particularly a telephone conversation between Mr. Bush and Mr. Yeltsin on Tuesday at the height of the coup, Mr. Strauss said. "He said, 'Bob, I hope that when you return to report to President Bush that you will say to him that his call to President Yeltsin was an exceedingly crucial call, coming at the time it did. Nothing could have meant more to President Yeltsin, to me and to others than for him to have made that call. His timing was perfect.' "


Gary Freedman said...

My apologies to Ambassador Strauss. I know he doesn't like sports metaphors. (Breakfast with Bob Strauss, 4/6/89, 5th floor conference room).

Gary Freedman said...

Bob Strauss: While I'm no expert on these things, I'm an expert on people.

Freedman: While I'm no expert on the law, I know how to craft a novel legal argument.