The Chicago Way podcast: A veteran diplomat (my brother Nick) on Russia, Ukraine, Diplomacy and Media with Europe on the Brink of War

By John Kass

Our guest on this new edition of the Chicago Way podcast has more than 30 years of American foreign policy experience, in sensitive postings abroad and in repeated tours at the White House National Security Council working for presidents of either party.

He’s my younger brother, Nicholas S. Kass, retired and now in the private sector. But his brain hasn’t retired. He’s still thinking things through.

And there is no one I’d rather hear talk about how the rest of us can best think this through than my brother Nick.

Russia and Ukraine tensions are high, with Russian strong man Vladimir Putin making his move,  American media has lost credibility after fronting war in Iraq and those “weapons of mass destruction.” And Eastern European and other NATO nations openly doubt whether American leadership is capable of meeting the challenge.

We talk about the unfocused American response so far, the blithering, embarrassing, often contradictory statements from the White House, and we talk of whether this is the issue that can break or  weaken NATO to Putin’s advantage.

Nicholas S. Kass has briefed many presidents in the Oval Office, briefed Congressional leaders on critical foreign policy issues in Washington and at the scenes of conflict. He did that all on his own.

But I remember my little brother working in our family store on the Southwest side of Chicago, on 55th Street, a southpaw cruiserweight who could really sock, hitting sides of beef in the meat cooler just like “Rocky,” with that killer left hook.

Some fight managers wanted to sign him. It’s a good thing for America that he didn’t turn pro as a prizefighter. Instead he went to college, to DePaul, then Georgetown and Catholic University for his law degree.

He has served America as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Director of European Affairs and Director of Intelligence Programs at the National Security Council; as a U.S. expert on the Aegean/Eastern Mediterranean, and on Kurdish issues for the National Intelligence Council. And other high-level posts.

He is fluent in Kurdish and Turkish and speaks Greek.

He’s a good husband and father. Are his older brothers, John and Peter, proud of him? You bet we’re proud of him.

And now you can listen to him, talking with WGN’s Jeff Carlin and me, on the Chicago Way podcast.

To listen, just click on the link above.

Jeff Carlin and I now podcast twice a week on The Chicago Way. If you’d like to become a sponsor of this podcast, email me at and type “sponsor” in the subject line.


(Copyright 2022 John Kass)

The Chicago Way w/John Kass (02/21/2022): During the COVID-19 pandemic, John Kass & Jeff Carlin continue to podcast socially distanced from secure locations. This week, John’s younger brother Nicholas Kass, a retired American diplomat with over 30-years of experience -focused on Aegean/Eastern Mediterranean issues, joins the conversation to talk about international diplomacy, the tensions between Ukraine & Russia, and how NATO’s role is evolving in the world. Check out more Kasso at

Leave a Reply