ACURA ViewPoint: Ambassador Jack F. Matlock, Jr. on Embassy Staff Restrictions

Last week, it was reported that Russia’s Ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov’s proposals to lift existing restrictions on the numbers of embassy staff by both the US and Russia was rejected by the US Department of State. For perspective, we asked ACURA board member Jack F. Matlock, Jr. for some brief thoughts on the matter. Ambassador Matlock served as Ronald Reagan’s ambassador to the USSR after a long and distinguished career in the US foreign service.

On Friday, Ambassador Matlock told ACURA:

“I deplore the reciprocal efforts to reduce, to the point of dismemberment, U.S. and Russian diplomatic establishments. This started in the last month of the Obama administration and each U.S. move to expel Russian diplomats has been met by a corresponding reduction of the U.S. diplomatic presence in Russia. I spent years–even decades–expanding our diplomatic presence in what was then the USSR so it is particularly galling to see the U.S., with the support of both major political parties, in effect destroying the very instruments of communication and diplomacy.

I hope I am wrong but it seems to me that President Biden is trying to do the impossible: to persuade the Russians to cooperate on matters most important to us while at the same time treating them as an enemy or adversary regarding matters that are vastly more important to Russia than to us.

This is a topic with many important ramifications.  Over three years ago I mused about the dangers of policemen making foreign policy.  (  \

Right now it seems that facts and rational policy making are totally beyond the capacity of the Washington policy-making establishment. The military-industrial-congressional complex desperately needs enemies to justify lavish “defense” (actually, offense) spending.”

Jack F. Matlock, Jr. served as US Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987-1991. Prior to that he was Senior Director for European and Soviet Affairs on President Reagan’s National Security Council staff and was US Ambassador to Czechoslovakia from 1981-1983

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