SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
It might be called Revenge of the Pinstripes. In this week's House Intelligence Committee hearings, career diplomats dressed in somber suits who've often been derided as elites, insiders, the establishment and even the deep state got the chance to tell Americans how they've been nonpartisan representatives of America from administration to administration. Those parts of their testimony weren't news bombshells, but their words are worth noting.
William Taylor, West Point graduate, company commander in Vietnam and U.S. Foreign Service officer in Brussels, Kabul and Baghdad before he was appointed U.S. ambassador to Ukraine under President George W. Bush, told the committee how several public servants involved in the Ukraine investigation were born abroad and we and our national security are better for it, he said.
George P. Kent, the current Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, who served for 27 years under both Republican and Democratic administrations, noted two of his former professors - Zbigniew Brzezinski and Henry Kissinger - also came to the United States as immigrants. Those ultimate foreign policy insiders were actually outsiders who fled communist and Nazi oppression. That personal experience helped them appreciate America as an outpost of freedom in a forbidding world.
George Kent said he sees a lineage between Lafayette from France and Pulaski and Kosciuszko of Poland, who joined the American Revolution. Brzezinski and Kissinger are now former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman on the National Security Council. Their families were born into countries overtaken by tyrannies. They knew from their own lives what has made America different in the world.
President Trump began to blast Ambassador Yovanovitch on Twitter yesterday even as she testified about serving her country in several hardship posts - from her first tour in Somalia's long civil war to surviving a shooting attack on the U.S. Embassy in Uzbekistan, getting caught in crossfire during an attempted coup in Moscow and most recently making repeated visits to the frontlines in the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
But Marie Yovanovitch's mother grew up in Nazi Germany. Her father fled the Soviet Union. As the ambassador told the House Committee, even as she was being denounced by the president of the United States, my service is an expression of gratitude for all that this country has given my family and me.
[POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: In the audio of this story, as well as in a previous Web version, we incorrectly say Henry Kissinger was a professor of George Kent's.]
(SOUNDBITE OF JOHN METCALFE'S "KITE")
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