Moments Posted in A Moment in U.S. Diplomatic History

This is an archive of Moments in U.S. Diplomatic History posted in the A Moment in U.S. Diplomatic History category.

1200 Monkeys Was the Least of It: a Case of Kickbacks and Sexual Harassment at USAID

Ann Van Dusen’s long and successful career USAID brought many challenges, including the case of a contractor implicated in kickbacks, sexual harassment and and the irregular importation of 1200 monkeys to the United States.  Her conclusion from the sorry 1980s episode? “It is important to find ways to make it safe for whistleblowers to speak […]

A “Very Japanese” Arrangement to Dismantle a Soviet MIG-25

On September 6, 1976 a MIG-25 (foxbat), the most advanced Soviet fighter jet at the time, landed at Hokadote Airport in Hokkaido, Japan. Pilot Viktor Belenko emerged waving a pistol in the air and requested asylum in the United States.  Washington promptly approved Belenko’s asylum request and asked young diplomat Nicholas Platt to handle his […]

USAID’s role in helping rebuild Rwanda after the Tutsi genocide of 1994

Philip-Michael Gary’s career with USAID put him face-to-face with then-Vice President and Minister of Defense of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, in the aftermath of the infamous Rwandan genocide. Following the 1994 genocide, which led to the deaths of up to 800,000 Rwandans of Tutsi ethnicity, Kagame reached out to USAID to assist him in restoring order […]

Combating the flow of Foreign Fighters affiliated with the Islamic State

The rapid ascent of ISIS in 2013-16 was fueled by a flow of “foreign fighters” from across the Middle East, North Africa and portions of Europe and Asia. Foreign fighters in ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, also known by other names, notably “Da’esh”) numbered up to 40,000 by some estimates. Interdicting the […]

“We didn’t know if they were all dead…” The attacks on American embassies during the Six-Day War

During the Six-Day War of June 1967 Israel fought and won a decisive victory against Syrian, Egyptian, Iraqi, and Lebanese forces. As a result of America’s backing of Israel, U.S. government facilities and U.S.-based companies were targeted throughout the Middle East and North Africa. For many embassies and consulates, including the embassy in Jeddah, it […]

From the 1985 Achille Lauro Hijacking to the 2014 Ebola Crisis: Steven Browning’s Foreign Service Career

Steven Browning was a third-tour Foreign Service Officer in Alexandria, Egypt when he found himself in the midst of the U.S. response to the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro oceanliner. Egyptian commandos rescued the ship from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) terrorists who seized it, but “the Italians were involved, we were involved; everybody […]

When a Newly-Elected President Putin Welcomed USAID’s Advice

President Putin once welcomed USAID’s assistance (at least for a time). Carol Peasley served as USAID’s mission director in Moscow from 1999-2003. This tumultuous period witnessed the fall of Boris Yeltsin and the emergence of Vladimir Putin as a tough-minded leader frequently at odds with the United States. But it was not always that way. Peasley […]

Human Rights and USAID: Remembering the Turbulent 1990s in Indonesia

Political and economic crises abroad have a dramatic impact not only on American personnel at our embassies, but on locally-employed staff as well.  In 1996 opponents of the regime of President Suharto occupied the headquarters of the opposition Indonesian Democratic Party (or PDI). This became a focal point for popular protest, and were dislodged in […]

Thumbs Down on a Nelson Mandela Speech

Nelson Mandela is justifiably revered, but not every act or speech by the Nobel Peace laureate was universally acclaimed.  American diplomat Tom Krajeski, who served as our ambassador to both Yemen and Bahrain, gave Mandela a candid — and negative — assessment of his speech after both addressed a conference in Dubai.  Mandela asked for […]

Senior Diplomat Marc Grossman Reflects on NATO’s Bombing in the Balkans

Marc Grossman’s distinguished Foreign Service career put him in the center of multiple crises, including NATO’s 1999 bombing campaign in the Balkans.  Grossman supported President Clinton’s decision to use only air power during the NATO intervention.  As Assistant Secretary for European Affairs, he briefed Congress on the conflict almost daily, including after American forces accidentally […]