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Caution-there is no way I can write this without sounding braggy. So, I apologize in advance.

My weekend at Stanford, takeaways from Russia talk by an expert, Haitian refugees:

Last weekend was family weekend and I had a great time visiting with my daughter Gabby, already a Junior at Stanford. As the mom of a nerd, going to classes taught by Stanford professors was super fun for me. I am happy to tell you that seeing the students at Stanford makes me believe that our future is in good hands.

Gabby decided she wanted to go to Stanford when she was 11 and we visited campus. She worked really hard to make it happen. Her acceptance was like winning the lottery. Living vicariously through her experiences, I am so proud of her. I am also thrilled with the mentorship and education she is receiving. My once shy little girl is in a class of 25 students with Candoleezza Rice (Former Secretary of State under George W. Bush). )

She has even meets with Condoleezza one on one during office hours. An intense class (which Gabby loves) with hundreds of pages of reading per week. Condoleezza reads each paper, comments and grades them. They have very active classes, simulating they are in the United Nations…

Besides seeing my daughter, the highlight of the weekend was when Mike McFaul (who served 5 years in the Obama administration, 2 of those years as the U.S. Ambassador to Russia. See (told me that he was “very impressed with” my daughter and she would be ok in her career path-(probably working in Washington D.C.).

See the above picture that Mike McFaul took of us/his audience before the talk he gave us on Russia. That is me in the front row looking down and getting ready to take notes and my daughter Gabby leaning over getting her stuff settled.

Mike McFaul on Russia/U.S. RelationsHere are some of my takeaways from Mike McFaul’s talk:

  • The U.S./Russian relations are more strained than ever before.
  • 80% of Russians think the U.S. is the enemy.
  • Russia was weak 30 years but, has been increasing its power.
  • Putin believes that the U.S. pushed Russia while it was weak so now Russia is pushing back and starting confrontations.
  • Putin sees the U.S. as a competitor not as a partner.
  • Putin was trained by the KGB and sees the U.S. as an emery he wants to defeat.
  • The giant demonstrations in Russia by those wanting fair elections make Putin mad and afraid because the last time so many people took to the streets the government fell.
  • Putin needs an enemy to explain the Russian difficulties, so he likes to blame the U.S.
  • Putin can stay in power until 2024.
  • Trump might do better than Obama did with Putin since Trump has said things that are in Russia’s best interest-i.e. might lift sanctions to fight ISIS, sit down with Russia to carve out….
  • But, McFaul believes the U.S./Russia common agenda is thin and Putin needs an enemy to blame….
  • In the long term McFaul is optimistic about Russia/U.S. relations because of the young people in Russia who are standing up and taking to the streets…
  • As to Cybersecurity-he believes that Russia did stuff to our elections and that we should have a bipartisan committee investigate to see what happened.
  • We don’t want the Russians interfering with our elections, Voter Registration, our electoral system, know matter which political party you support.
  • He further believes that it shouldn’t be our goal to have “friendly relations” with Russia.
  • Rather, we should define what we want with the Russians and then figure out how to get there.

Thanks for reading to the end and letting me brag about my daughter, Gabby. I am going to a non-profit agency set up to help local Haitians who are currently here legally and trying to get legal status, later today. I will let you know more about this next week.

Have an awesome week!

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