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  • Author: Derek Sandhaus
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: It’s rare that I receive a summons to brief senior diplomats. You see I’m a writer and what is referred to as a “trailing spouse” in the U.S. Foreign Service. So when my diplomat wife informed me that the Consul General and his deputy would like to meet with me, no one was more surprised than I. When I learned what they had in mind it all made more sense: They wanted me to tell them how to drink, more specifically how to drink in the Chinese manner.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Culture, Memoir, Alcohol
  • Political Geography: China, United States of America
  • Author: Charles Ray
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: When I served as the U.S. Department of States Diplomat in Residence at the University of Houston (TX) during the 2005-2006 academic year, in addition to recruiting and mentoring college students interested in taking the Foreign Service Exam, I did a lot of speaking on diplomacy and foreign relations in southeast and south Texas. One of the audiences I particularly liked talking to was high school students, the most interesting and challenging I’ve faced in my 30-year diplomatic career.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Memoir
  • Political Geography: United States of America
  • Author: June Carter Perry
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: What is a Diplomat in Residence in 2020? In order to reach out to potential future Foreign Service Officers (FSOs), the Department of State places experienced officers at colleges and universities in sixteen regions of the United States. The FSOs assigned as Diplomats in Residence (DIRs) offer guidance and advice on careers, internships and fellowships to students and professionals in the communities they serve. Although one might compare their roles to those of recruiters for corporations or universities, in fact, the DIR’s responsibilities are much broader. Based on my position as Diplomat in Residence at Howard University 2001-2002, the DIR is a counselor, a teacher, a mentor and sometimes a parent.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Foreign Aid, Memoir
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Ken Moskowitz
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: On June 15, State Department Inspector General Steve Linick officially departed his office, after his firing the previous month by President Donald Trump. The president said, per the clichéd phrase, that he had “lost confidence” in Linick. Linick is the fifth U.S. Government inspector general fired by Trump. The president has fired his cabinet secretaries and bureaucrats frequently. Why is this one important? Before retiring in 2015, I spent the last three years of my career as a Foreign Service Officer at the State Department as an inspector in the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). The last two years were under Steve Linick. The OIG, replicated in most U.S. departments, conducts investigations, audits, and inspections of domestic State Department offices and overseas missions and embassies to insure that they are adhering to professional standards and properly carrying out their assigned duties. They also conduct ad hoc or topical investigations and inspections when particular problems have been brought to the IG leadership via its hotline or other confidential communications.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Memoir, Civil Servants
  • Political Geography: United States of America
  • Author: Tianna Spears
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: My name is Tianna Spears. Many may recognize me as the Black diplomat who ultimately fled the State Department after being harassed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials while crossing the border into the country where I was born. At the age of 26, I was diagnosed with debilitating mental health conditions and left traumatized. But I am not my trauma— I am a friend, sister, daughter. A person. I am now 28 years old. This year has been bittersweet for me. My grief, disappointment, rage, and sadness are not just personal, but as a Black woman in America, I’ve grappled with the question of how do I grieve a personal loss that is also systemic?
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Government, Race, Reform, Memoir
  • Political Geography: United States of America
  • Author: Peter Bridges
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: In 1981 I was assigned to our Rome embassy as the deputy to the ambassador, Maxwell Rabb. The Red Brigade terrorists had been active in Italy for some years. They had been responsible for perhaps thousands of violent actions and had killed many people, most notably former Prime Minister Aldo Moro in 1978. One day before I left Washington, my colleague Gary Matthews said “You are going to carry a weapon in Rome, I assume.” “Why, no. I don’t have one and I don’t plan to buy one.” “Go down to the Department armory and they’ll fix you up.”
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Weapons , Memoir
  • Political Geography: Europe, Italy, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Gregory Orr
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: Of all the cultural tools used by the United States Information Agency (USIA) to promote public diplomacy, film had a prominent role. For nearly half a century, the film division at USIA produced, distributed, and sponsored films throughout the world. It is estimated that the USIA archive included nearly 18,000 films distributed to over 150 nations in dozens of languages. They ranged widely in style (documentary, newsreel, animation, educational, and even fiction) and subject matter (social issues, biography, history, the arts, the environment, daily life in America, and sports.)
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Media, Film, Soft Power, Memoir
  • Political Geography: United States of America
  • Author: Bob Baker
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: In a November 1973 nationally televised press conference, President Richard Nixon denied his involvement in the Watergate cover-up and declared “I am not a crook.” In the U.K., where I was working in the U.S. embassy, British television showed the scene repeatedly as part of its daily coverage of the Watergate break-in scandal. As an assistant cultural affairs officer in the London embassy, part of my job was to improve the U.S. image and British understanding of our policies. I did not agree with all of our policies, but focused my work on the best in U.S. policy and culture. That included keeping British support for NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, our main alliance in the cold war with the Soviet Union. For months, President Nixon twisted on television every day as investigations led toward him. He wanted to avoid blame for his role in the burglary at Democratic Party headquarters in the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. His almost daily interviews on television had eroded British trust in the United States. How could Brits trust the U.S. as a strategic partner in NATO if the President was a crook?
  • Topic: NATO, Diplomacy, Memoir, Richard Nixon
  • Political Geography: Europe, United States of America
  • Author: Jonathan B. Rickert
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: One of the traditional tasks of diplomacy is the negotiation of bilateral and multilateral agreements. Although many diplomats may spend an entire career without ever engaging in such activity, I am pleased that I had the chance to do so.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations, Memoir
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Romania, North America, United States of America
  • Author: J. R. Bullington
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: My first overseas post as a newly-minted Foreign Service Officer was the American Consulate at Hué. I arrived in July, 1965, just as the massive deployment of U.S. combat units was getting underway. Emerging from a redneck hillbilly background in Tennessee and Alabama, and devoid of any international experience, I could not imagine the challenging, life-shaping adventure on which I was about to embark. This is my Foreign Service war story/love story/coming-of-professional-age story, as well as a participant’s account of a significant but largely unknown episode in the history of the Vietnam War. In 1965, the Vietnam War had not yet come to dominate American politics as it did by 1967. Nonetheless, it was very much in the news, and I was happy to be going to an exciting job in an exotic country that was emerging as a major focus of American foreign policy. Moreover, I had been unable to achieve my childhood dream of a military career because of a teenage bout with polio that left me with a slightly crippled leg, so I was pleased to have this opportunity to serve my country in a war. I was 24, and more than a little naïve.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Memoir, Vietnam War, Buddhism
  • Political Geography: Vietnam, North America, Southeast Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Morton III Holbrook
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: As Economic Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines in 2000-2004, I worked closely with the American Chamber of Commerce in Manila. Amcham also had a branch office in Davao, the largest city in the southern island of Mindanao, staffed by Filipino nationals. In early 2001, I made my first visit to Davao to check out economic conditions there and help promote U.S. business interests. Though generally peaceful, Mindanao has a troubled history of rebellion and terrorist attacks. As a result, the Embassy’s Regional Security Office gave me a special briefing on what to expect, concluding by telling me to “keep a low profile.“ I flew from Manila to Davao airport, keeping this advice in mind. There was no jetway; our plane stopped about 100 feet from the terminal. As I walked down the steps from the plane, I saw a large banner running about half the length of the terminal building that said “American Chamber of Commerce in Davao Welcomes Morton Holbrook, Economic Counselor, American Embassy Manila.” So much for the security officer’s low profile advice, I thought!
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Memoir, Civil Servants
  • Political Geography: Philippines, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Pamela J. Slutz, Brian L. Goldbeck
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: President George W. Bush’s November 2005 visit to Mongolia marked an important milestone in U.S.-Mongolia relations. When the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1987 after many years of Cold War frostiness, Mongolia was a communist country closely allied to the Soviet Union.Bush’s visit, the first by a sitting U.S. president, re-affirmed Mongolia’s transformation from communism to democracy and a free market economy.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Public Policy, Memoir
  • Political Geography: Mongolia, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Mark Wentling
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: My friends say I was born and raised in Kansas, but I was made in Africa. I first stepped on the continent in 1970 as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Togo and stayed much longer than expected, serving with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and working with non-governmental organizations across the continent. I ended up knowing firsthand in varying degrees each of Africa’s 54 countries.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Memoir, Peace Corps, USAID
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States of America
  • Author: Christopher Datta
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: When I was a young man in the 1970s two friends and I went on a student tour of Europe. We landed in Luxembourg on New Year’s Eve and checked into a pension that catered to students. It was run by, what to me at the time, was an elderly woman (today I am probably 20 years older than she was at the time). My friends and I went out on the town to celebrate the New Year, and got back to the pension at about 1 am. The owner was up and waiting for us, and I thought we were going to get chewed out for staying up so late and forcing her to keep the doors open. Instead, she smiled at us and waved us into her dining room, where she opened a very nice bottle of white wine and then poured all of us a glass. This was certainly not the level of service I was expecting. I think we were paying $5 a night to stay there.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Memoir
  • Political Geography: Europe, United States of America
  • Author: Gregory Orr
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: In 1987 I joined the United States Information Agency (USIA), a foreign affairs agency whose mission was to engage in public diplomacy with audiences overseas. We liked to say that we wanted “to tell America’s story to the world” via a variety of cultural, educational, and informational programs (e.g. speakers, exchanges, exhibits, and libraries). USIA had a corps of press and cultural officers implementing these programs as well as specialists in areas such as library science and English language programs. As an English language officer, I was expected to promote the learning and teaching of American English as a means of developing mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. I therefore looked forward to my first overseas trip to make contact with the English teaching establishments in Hungary and the Soviet Union.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Culture, Soft Power, Public Policy, Memoir
  • Political Geography: Soviet Union, United States of America
  • Author: J. R. Bullington
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: Enforced social distancing and the consequent abundance of time for reflection can give rise to some unusual mental connections. For me, it was a letter from a previously unknown Foreign Service Officer colleague and memories of another cruel April 45 years ago, when Saigon and the Republic of Vietnam fell to the communist North Vietnamese. This connection, which was brought to mind by Eliot’s poem, evoked not only sad recollections but also some cautious long-term optimism.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Memoir
  • Political Geography: Vietnam, United States of America
  • Author: Mark Wentling
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: Guinea’s first president, Ahmed Sékou Touré (AST) died on March 26, 1984, following emergency heart surgery at a Cleveland hospital. When Guinea gained independence from France in 1958, AST was the only leader of France’s African colonies to say “no” to Charles De Gaulle’s offer of continued association with France, stating loudly “We prefer poverty in liberty to riches in slavery.” The French thus quickly abandoned with much vengeance their most wealthy West African Francophone colony, destroying everything they could not take with them.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Memoir, USAID
  • Political Geography: Africa, Guinea
  • Author: Brenda Brown Schoonover
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: IntraHealth, originally known as Intrah, the Program for International Training in Health, was created in 1979 to train health workers and enhance the skills and champion health workers in overseas countries in areas where they are most needed. Intrah grew out of a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) cooperative agreement with the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (UNC). Much of IntraHealth International’s success in global development is due to its President and CEO, Pape Amadou Gaye, who is stepping down after 16 years heading the organization. I first met Pape Gaye in the late 1990s, when he was Regional Director for Intrah’s West and North Africa programs in Lome, Togo, where I was U.S. Ambassador.
  • Topic: Development, Diplomacy, Memoir
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States of America
  • Author: Susan Clyde
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: American speaker programs were long a staple of US Information Agency (USIA) programs overseas. Not all went as planned. In 1975 in Chile we were preparing to receive an experimental film maker, sent by USIA to speak to film classes at the universities. The gentleman was first scheduled to speak at various venues in Buenos Aires, and we were told that he would be flying his own small plane from Chicago to Buenos Aires, then over the Andes to Santiago. Because the flights depended on weather conditions, we did not have an exact date of arrival. He’d call us when he got there, we were told.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Film, Memoir
  • Political Geography: South America, Chile, United States of America
  • Author: Peter Bridges
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: Henry Kissinger left government service in 1977; after serving earlier as National Security Adviser he was replaced as Secretary of State by Carter’s incoming Secretary, Cyrus Vance. Now it was 1984; since 1981 I had been the deputy chief of mission to Reagan’s ambassador to Italy, Maxwell Rabb. We learned that Dr. Kissinger was coming to Venice to brief the board of a major American corporation that was meeting there. Max Rabb asked me to go to Venice and make sure the Italians would provide proper protection for the famous—some would have said infamous—man.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Memoir, Henry Kissinger
  • Political Geography: United States of America
  • Author: Mark Wentling
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: In April 1991, while I was serving in Lomé, Togo as the USAID Representative for Togo and Benin, protests in Lomé against the dictatorial regime of President Eyadéma reached the boiling point. One night, President Eyadéma’s barbaric soldiers entered the original neighborhood of Lomé, Bè, and killed a couple dozen people or more. They collected the bodies and threw them into the lagoon which cut across the northern part of old Lomé. Their morbid idea was that when the people saw the dead bodies, they would cease revolting against Eyadéma, his cronies and all for which they stood.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Trauma, Memoir, USAID
  • Political Geography: Africa, Togo