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  • Slider-book-of-the-month-American Ambassadors

    Former U.S. ambassador Dennis Jett explains where ambassadors come from, what they do, where they go, and why they still matter.

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A Conflict in El Salvador

El Salvador death squadCentral America in the 1980s became a proxy battleground as the United States supported right-wing leaders against leftist socialist guerrillas who, in turn, were usually funded by the Soviet Union, Cuba and others. In El Salvador, the struggle for power took an ugly turn when  Archbishop Óscar Romero was gunned down while celebrating mass. Ambassador to El Salvador Robert White believed the U.S.-backed Salvadoran government was responsible. He was eventually recalled.

Read more Moments in Diplomatic History.


Elinor Constable — “If you want me out of the Foreign Service, you have to fire me”

ElinorConstableElinor Constable had an illustrious career in the State Department. She was in many ways a pioneer on women’s issues, dating from the late 1950s when she refused to resign from the Foreign Service when she got married, as was the expectation — not the law — at the time. In this interview, she discusses the importance of French’s Mustard in her family; her transition from FSO to spouse and how she was brought back into the Foreign Service “kicking and screaming;” the Alison Palmer case and women’s rights in the State Department; and her time in Kenya.

Read about other Fascinating Figures.

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Inside Foggy Bottom

C Street entranceFoggy Bottomwoman cursing refers not only to that neighborhood of Washington, DC, but also to the State Department itself. In this feature, we will try to dispel that fog and smoke and cast light on some of the lesser known aspects of the State Department and diplomatic history.


Diplomats by training are calm, level-headed types. They can deliver a harsh message but will do so in a polished, genteel manner. However, once in a while, if they’re particularly peeved, they can unleash an eruption of foul-mouthed epithets that could embarrass a fishmonger’s wife. Herewith some of the choicest examples from various Foreign Service Officers and a few others sprinkled in for good measure. (And yes, they do contain some raw, Not-Safe-For-Work language, so be forewarned.)



The Stump

The Stumpstump photo is an online forum to encourage discussion on issues regarding the State Department and foreign policy. The views expressed should not be considered official statements of the U.S. government or ADST.

The Palmer Case and the Changing Role of FS Women

The unprecedented opportunities for women which opened up during WWII closed just as dramatically after the war. From 1961 to 1971, recruitment of women remained at 7% and the rate of promotion was slow. In 1976 after numerous attempts at getting higher ranking positions as a Foreign Service Officer, Alison Palmer filed a class action lawsuit against the State Department for discrimination in violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. After several years of litigation, a 1989 court order found that the Department had discriminated against women in the written portion of the Foreign Service Officer Test.



Big Ben’s Top Ten


Powers on trial (AP Credit)Your BF serves them up the way you like them -- great taste and more filling!

Check out Big Ben's Top Ten -- the articles he recommends for their substance and popularity. He's got a wide selection from around the globe.


cuba-us-migration-cropSo share the Moments -- they're good for whatever ales you.




1.  The Assassination of Anwar Sadat              6.  Murder in an Embassy

2.  Trial of U2 Pilot Francis Gary Powers          7.  The Tet Offensive

3.  Terrorist Attack in Khartoum                       8.  Nixon Goes to China

4.  The Jonestown Massacre                              9.  8 Weird Things about Dips

5.  The Peruvian Hostage Rescue                    10.  Re-establishing ties with Cuba, 1977


ben_cool (2)The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”  — William Faulkner

The Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training (ADST) is an independent nonprofit organization founded in 1986. Located at the State Department’s George P. Shultz National Foreign Affairs Training Center in Arlington, Virginia, ADST advances understanding of American diplomacy and supports training of foreign affairs personnel through a variety of programs and activities.

Over the past quarter century ADST has conducted more than 1800 oral histories, which are also posted on the Library of Congress website, with more to come. Interviewees include such fascinating people as Prudence Bushnell, who describes her harrowing experiences during the bombing of U.S. Embassy Nairobi, Julia Child, Philip Habib, Dean Rusk, George Ball, Kathleen Turner, and many others. Excerpts from our oral history collections highlight the horrifying, the thought-provoking, and the absurd. In other words, they reflect the reality of diplomacy, warts and all.

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