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When Presidency Is Personal, The World Can Confuse A Nation With Its Leader, Former Ambassador Says

Egan Jimenez
Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs
Rick Barton, former Assistant Secretary of State under the Obama Administration, was in Pittsburgh last week to host a luncheon at the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh.

A staffing shortage at the U.S. State Department and a global perception that diplomacy is in decline shouldn't prevent the United States from playing its role in resolving worldwide conflicts, according to former Assistant Secretary of State Rick Barton. 

America's resources and economic stability should inspire its leaders to foster democracy across the globe, he says, adding: "Democracy isn't a spectator sport." Barton joined The Confluence during a recent visit with the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh. 

Later in the program:

President Donald Trump declared a national emergency earlier this month to secure funding for a wall on the southern border. The move follows precendent set 225 years ago when then-President George Washington called on executive authority to raise a militia against a whiskey rebellion in Western Pennsylvania. 90.5 WESA’s Katie Blackley reports on this early test of presidential power and the evolution of national emergencies.

And Guatemala’s 36-year civil war ended in 1996, leaving more than 70 percent of Ixil villages destroyed. With few resources available to them in their home country, many Ixil people immigrated to North America, settling in places including Virginia, Ohio, and more recently, Pittsburgh. Ixil immigrants face challenges in securing affordable housing, finding translators and mental health services, as well as establishing social networks. A panel of experts take a look at Pittsburgh's growing Ixil population:

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators join veteran journalist Kevin Gavin, taking an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Kiley Koscinski covers city government, policy and how Pittsburghers engage with city services. She also works as a fill-in host for All Things Considered. Kiley has previously served as a producer on The Confluence and Morning Edition.
Julia Zenkevich reports on Allegheny County government for 90.5 WESA. She first joined the station as a production assistant on The Confluence, and more recently served as a fill-in producer for The Confluence and Morning Edition. She’s a life-long Pittsburgher, and attended the University of Pittsburgh. She can be reached at
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