If anyone can say Russia didn’t invade Ukraine, it’s probably Wendy Sherman

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In Wendy Sherman’s world, rationality is the rule. For the Deputy Secretary of State, the players look at the field as it is set up, weigh the risks and rewards, concessions and consequences, and then make the best choice for their benefit. Love and nostalgia for suckers. When the parties come to a common understanding of the carrot and the stick, eventually a logical conclusion will follow — even if it doesn’t always translate into a clear political victory home.
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That may be how the former social worker who ran the campaign broke through some of the toughest negotiations to get through State Department cables over the past three decades. Her reputation as a tough master of tough talk is just as well-deserved as (sometimes reluctantly) the respect she received from Republicans on Capitol Hill. Sherman made deals with North Korea during the Clinton era and with Iran during the Obama years. The country’s number two diplomat is in talks with Moscow this week, seeking to de-escalate the ongoing situation on the Russia-Ukraine border, which currently hosts 100,000 Russian troops. Surround Ukraine on three below the routine exercises.

“Normally people don’t send 100,000 troops to the border just for exercises,” Sherman said in Geneva on Monday.

Ultimately, Russia – like the United States – has an obligation to act in its own interest. And in this case, as in most cases, Russia was Vladimir Putin, whose only command could trigger the mobilization of troops across the Ukrainian border and test the West’s response. Sherman’s goal for the week was to convince his Russian counterpart that it was a bad idea. ONE very Bad idea, she told Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Rybakov over Sunday dinner and during eight hours of lengthy negotiations on Monday in Geneva, a city she knows very well from the negotiations. prolonged with Tehran over the Iran nuclear deal in 2015.

By Sherman realpolitik approach that requires her to try to capture the mind on the other side of the table. And in this case, after negotiating the dismantling of Syria’s chemical weapons program with Rybakov during the Obama Administration, she has some clues as to what he had to say on Putin’s orders and what he said. what he really believes in.

“As a diplomat and negotiator, I usually don’t approach situations like this based on trust. I try to respect that other countries have their own interests and those interests may differ from ours, and try to get to know them,” Sherman told reporters by phone from Geneva.

That — and the meticulous attention to detail — has been the guiding theory of Sherman’s career, ever since she worked as a Baltimore social worker trying to improve access to affordable housing. maybe in the city. After serving as Hill’s assistant, Democratic National Committee officer, and EMILY’s Head of Lists, Sherman’s ear was one of the most politically amicable people in Foggy Bottom, aside from the majority of the staff. career officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Where they have PhDs and decades of narrow focus, she has hard-earned calluses from working in politics — and thus a sharp mind to manipulate even hostile parties. most enemy It’s correct. History and culture are important, but victory ultimately depends on understanding how the power race is viewed in delicate conversations. “A realistic sense of one’s own strength,” she Written In 2018, is necessary to deal with those who may disagree.

In the 1990s, after serving as the State Department’s liaison to Congress and the Executive Director of the Fannie Mae charity branch, she returned to the State as Madeleine Albright’s advisor in her role. Minister has no portfolio. From that post, she appease North Korea’s reclusive regime pledges to suspend its nuclear program; Albright rewarded the concession in 2000 by becoming the most senior American to visit the country since hostilities on the peninsula ended in 1953. (There are plans to appoint Bill Clinton before his term ends. ended, but negotiations failed in chaotic transformation afterward 2000 President election.)

After continuing to teach and consult at Abright’s global consulting firm, Sherman returned to State as Undersecretary for Political Affairs, the Department’s No. Working for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, she successfully leveraged a multilateral agreement with Iran to dramatically scale back its nuclear ambitions in a series of 20-month negotiations that made many skeptics. “No deal,” she told the Senate in 2013, “is better than a bad deal.”

Her most recent public success in that deal was not without disappointed. At one point, three weeks after her brief trip to Geneva, she became irritable and began to shed tears during a private meeting as her Iranian counterparts wanted to reopen an agreed-upon point. Stunned after watching the tough negotiator in action for over a year, Iranians realized how Sherman personally entered the negotiations and refused to object – and the Iran nuclear deal came into effect. force. (Donald Trump, of course, sees the deal as a relic of Barack Obama’s presidency and of course. give up it, said he would negotiate a better deal. He did not.)

Iran needs the US to ease sanctions more than Russia does now, making her current task more difficult. Sherman is currently in Brussels for a meeting with NATO and will travel to Vienna at the weekend for talks with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. She knows the route and the players well — and they know her as a hardened diplomat who rarely refuses permission. Are not is the last word in any table. But she’s also not immune to the risk of making a mistake: “As for hope for future discussions, it’s very difficult for diplomats to do the work that we do if you don’t have hope.” she said on Monday. “Of course I have hope – but what matters most to me is the outcome.

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Aila Slisco

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