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Great Decisions - State of the State Department & Diplomacy

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The Great Decisions Series is a part of the Great Decisions World Education Program.  Experts offer presentations on global issues and U.S. foreign policy.  

During the Trump administration, the usual ways of conducting diplomacy have been upended.  Many positions in the State Department have never been filled, and meetings with foreign leaders such as Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin have been undertaken with little advance planning. What effect are these changes having now, and how will they affect ongoing relationships between the United States and its allies and adversaries?

John Katzka, Retired Diplomat, was a senior U.S. Foreign Service officer with the rank of counselor. He is a Wisconsin native, a UWM graduate, and completed graduate work at George Washington and American Universities in Sino-Soviet politics. John joined the Foreign Service in 1970 and his Foreign Service and federal career covered 38 years. His main area of responsibility was public affairs. He held overseas postings in Bangkok, Khon Kaen and Chiang Mai in Thailand, two tours in Moscow (the latter during the collapse of the Soviet Union), Zambia, Yugoslavia (through the buildup to the breakup), Romania and various Washington assignments.

After retiring he was asked to be a special envoy, first to Kosovo after the shooting stopped, then to Belgrade to help reestablish relations, then to Macedonia after their civil war and finally to Paris for more mundane matters. John is a regular on World Affairs Roundup, a monthly part of UWM’s TV series “International Focus” that airs on Sundays on channel 36 at 4:30pm. He conducts two programs at the Cedarburg library: Hot Spot of the Quarter and Great Decisions. John is the co-coordinator of the Milwaukee chapter of the World Future Society.