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The author witnessed major changes at the embassy in Moscow. By his final departure, “Tchaikovsky 19” was broken, a victim of intelligence and counterintelligence failures, Reagan’s “rules of reciprocity,” and a dearth of area and language expertise. The U.S. shouldn’t have its diplomats “skipping around like a waterbug from one country to another,” in Ambassador Charles Bohlen’s memorable phrase, as they did before the Foreign Service became professional. Diplomats should be trained in the language, culture, and history of specific regions, and be expected to serve in them more than once. Washington’s failure to prepare diplomats for the Middle East comes as no surprise; years ago it lost interest in developing area and language experts.

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