When Saddam Hussein Invaded Kuwait

Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and my life changed. Following Desert Storm, I flew to Kuwait in temporary seats on a DHL flight; was among the very first civilians to spend the night on the ground after we won the war; and had the unique experience of a soldier opening our can of wafers with the knife tucked into his boot. All because of George H. W. Bush, James Baker, Senator Richard Lugar, and Dennis Ross. And all of those memories came rushing back to me as I watched the 41st President’s funeral.

It is true that I have led an incredibly lucky and interesting life; among the most fascinating things I have been involved with was assisting in the return of Constitutional government to Kuwait.

It happened thanks to a phone call from a Kuwaiti man.  The Emir had dissolved Parliament in the 1980s and had not held new elections, this Kuwaiti had been promoting a Constitutional Government ever since.  He suggested that if the US President offered American aide if power was restored to the ruling family, all of the Kuwaiti Opposition would support the Emir and his return.

I was with IRI (The International Republican Institute) at the time, and although we were affiliated with the Republican Party, I could certainly not speak for the White House. So I went to meet with Dennis Ross at State to ask his advice. The next thing I knew I was meeting with Jim Baker and within ten minutes I had gotten the all clear to talk to my Board members.  After the war was won, the White House would back a call for elections to be held in Kuwait as soon as possible. The White House and State would also support the IRI to to train electoral candidates and observe the elections.

Senator Lugar was on the IRI board and was on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and was able to arrange a meeting with the Kuwaiti Ambassador. Thanks to an excellent twist of fate, the day Senator Lugar allotted for a private lunch between myself and the Kuwaiti Ambassador was the day the war ended. The Ambassador was ebullient when he entered. He gave us watches that had been especially made with the U.S. and Kuwaiti flags and the Desert Storm shield as mementos. His happiness dissipated immediately over his turkey sandwich when Senator Lugar told him of the deal that President Bush had made with the Emir.  We needed to leave for Kuwait as soon as possible and needed the Ambassador’s help to get the paperwork in order – the entry system for visitors had not been restored yet.  Adding to the keepsake of the watch (which I still have!) I have a handwritten visa entry in my passport.

There were several glitches in the process, of course, but every time I called the White House from Kuwait, any problem I had was immediately corrected. Elections were held and to this day they are still happening – not perfectly but significant progress has been made; women now vote and hold office and there is a functioning Parliament. The same cannot be said for many of Kuwait’s neighbors!

I was so lucky to have worked for individuals who believed and advocated the core values of decency, freedom, and true democracy and promoted it throughout the world, changing the lives of millions. We need more like them.  We need more politicians like George Herbert Walker Bush.

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London at Christmas

One of the most beautiful cities at Christmastime is London.  The streets are lit and the shops are fully decorated.  There is no requirement that commercial buildings have fake trees so the fresh trees give off a scent of fir and pine everywhere.  Even Westminster Abbey is full of real trees with their root balls intact so they can be planted after the holidays.  Some of the favorite haunts of mine were sporting upside down trees this year.  The best was at Claridge’s that was amazing to see.

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London is now a great culinary city.  From a restaurant such as Rules with very traditional menus – meat pies, game, Scottish salmon – to the best Indian food in the world at The Tamarind (which also has a great French wine list) to Cicchetti which is listed as one of the finest Italian restaurants with “small bites”  in the region and it was some of the very best Italian food we’ve eaten anywhere.  Jean Georges at The Connaught, along with the bar there, is worth the price for an elegant meal.  The Christmas tree made of chocolate fruit was a great decorator’s touch.

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Rules Restaurant 

It has also become a tourist favorite place which can be a bit of a challenge with the crowds but shopping was still possible!  Jermyn Street for men’s clothing.  Fortnum and Mason for exquisite foods and teas. A series of arcades off Piccadilly where antique jewelry and beautiful leather goods can be found.  Harrod’s with its amazing holiday sales.

If one wanted to do the traditional tourist “musts” were available – The Tower with the Crown Jewels and Beefeaters all around; The Churchill Rooms; Westminster Abbey; and a little further out, Kew Gardens where nature is at its best.

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For New Year’s Eve, we ate dinner and watched the cabaret at Cafe de Paris in the West End.  A fantastic, although very risqué, show with an acceptable dinner started the night off properly.  When the show ended, we retired to our favorite bar off St James called The American Bar at the Hotel Stafford.  With a live band and dancing plus the wonderful atmosphere and staff at the bar, we rang in the New Year properly.

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Cafe de Paris

If you are looking for an escape around the holidays, do consider London.  Although it is a wonderful city at all times, it truly shines at the holidays.

Happy New Year to all!

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Happy New Year!

When we roll into 2018, I will try to regale all of you with various topics – both fun and serious – but for this week, just relax, raise a glass at midnight, and enjoy yourselves!  Figure out all the great things that happened to you in 2017 and look forward to what wonderful experiences you might have in the next year.

New-Years-PackageI don’t make New Year’s resolutions since I learned a long time ago that I never really accomplished them, and I was setting myself up for failure. Since the world is such a volatile place, I know I will also get plenty of ideas for my future trashy spy novels and there will be no shortage of events that will fuel some of the tirades I might launch into in the coming year.

Have a great end of 2017, and I’ll talk to you next year!

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Happy Holidays!

Thank you to all who have written worried that they haven’t gotten all my posts recently.  I hope that you will all get this and I am not writing as many because every time I do a political or foreign policy one it seems that it is overtaken by events as I close.  Let’s hope 2018 moves a touch more slowly and I can keep up.  In the meantime a Very Merry to all – and I’ll write you again in 2018.

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Army-Navy thriller

What a game! I’ll be back writing next week after I thaw out from going to the Army-Navy game in Philly!

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Happy Thanksgiving!


Wishing you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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Sexual harassment: Maybe standards will be brought back to us

Unfortunately I haven’t been traveling to fun or exotic places recently so I apologize to those readers who have been asking nicely when will I do another travel post. Today I am writing about a much more serious topic – sexual abuse.

I have never had it happen to me, but one of my co-workers had it happen to her and she came to me for help.  She had been harassed by a senior member of our office and since I was the most senior woman in the office, she asked for my help.  I willingly did so and I am glad to say that the individual involved was rapidly removed from his job.  There was no legal pursuit.  We didn’t go to the police by the request of the employee and this was thirty years ago when other than outright rape, it was very hard to file charges.

Our world is improving in this aspect of awareness now and the ability to talk about sexual harassment, but what is so sad is that we have so many who have had to endure years of the pain that being the target of unwanted sexual contact causes.  It is especially nauseating to me that we elect men who have bragged about their behavior or who have involved minors in these heinous acts.

Where has this country gone in its moral underpinnings if someone like Moore in Alabama is still being supported?  I found it hard to believe that any woman would vote for Trump after the Access Hollywood tape but to hear women in Alabama say that they will still vote for someone who exposed himself with teenagers (yes, 16 is the legal age in Alabama, but that doesn’t excuse a 30 something from picking on a 16 and 18 year old). And to hear people interviewed saying they would rather vote for a pedophile than a Democrat is just as bad as the excuses given Clinton for his behavior with Monica Lewinsky.

Perhaps it is time for us to outlaw all party affiliation and vote for the best candidate? George Washington hated the idea of political parties, and I am now beginning to agree with him. In DC, though, if one is an Independent, one can’t vote in the primary process which is by far the more important election in DC than the general.

Maybe standards will be brought back to us.  I hope so since I will hate trying to explain to my grand-daughter someday that all of America has become inured to bad behavior if it is connected to anyone politically active.

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