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.

USAID’s Work with an Unsung Hero of the Fight Against Apartheid in South Africa: Dullah Omar

USAID worked intensively with the new South African government after the fall of apartheid in 1994.  William Stacy Rhodes was at the heart of these efforts, serving as Mission Director from 1998-2002.  He recalls working closely with Dullah Omar, Nelson Mandela’s lawyer in the darkest days of apartheid and the first Minister of Justice in […]

Bill and Hillary Clinton’s Visit to France for the 50th anniversary of the D-Day Invasion

In 1994 Avis Bohlen, the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, was made Hillary Clinton’s Control Officer when she and President Bill Clinton visited France for the 50 year anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy. As with many such high-level visits, it was a diplomatic success but a strenuous challenge […]

Our Man in Banjul: Ambassador Recalls Gambia’s 1994 Coup and the Rise of Yahya Jammeh

Our Ambassador in Banjul, Gambia, was not expecting a coup on the morning of July 22, 1994 — but that is what he got.   With little violence and no casualties, 29-year old Lieutenant Yahya Jammeh and other junior army officers occupied the capital and the presidential compound, ousting long-serving President Sir Dawda Jawara.  Jawara took […]

John A. Burroughs – From Tackling with the Philadelphia Eagles to Tackling Equal Opportunity at the State Department

Growing up in segregated Washington DC inspired John A. Burroughs to a life-long commitment to equal opportunity.  He went on to serve as Ambassador to Malawi and Uganda, and to head up equal employment efforts at the Department of the Navy.  Burroughs worked alongside big names such as Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and Admiral […]

Never the Twain Shall Meet? Bureaucratic Cultures at USAID and the State Department

The famously contrasting bureaucratic cultures of the State Department and USAID made a sharp impression on Donald Bliss, USAID’s executive secretary during the Ford Administration.  Bliss recalls needing to submit 14 copies of a fairly simple memorandum from USAID’s Administrator Daniel Parker to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.  Bliss, a Harvard Law grad and Peace […]

Death Squads in El Salvador, the Taliban in Afghanistan: a Diplomat’s Challenges

American Foreign Service Officer Todd Greentree served in El Salvador from 1981-82, a time when violence from local “death squads” was at its peak.  He also served in Afghanistan from 2008-2012, the height of what was then termed the Global War on Terror.  Greentree’s oral history describes first-hand the dangers of living as a diplomat […]

An Espionage Caper in Ghana; Helping Americans Escape Rwanda — Scenes From a Diplomatic Life

Arlene Render’s career took her from a segregated neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio, to three ambassadorships and a lifetime of diplomatic accomplishment, particularly in Africa.  Her experiences included cleaning up after a messy espionage affaire in Ghana and helping ensure that safe evacuation of American citizens from the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.  Ambassador Render attended West […]

The Impact of China’s Tiananmen Square Massacre in Taiwan and on the Mainland

Chinese-born U.S. Foreign Service Officer Edward Loo migrated to the United States as an infant, and went on to serve in Taiwan at the time of the infamous 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre — and in mainland China during the period of martial law that followed.  Loo’s career as a Foreign Service Officer spanned nearly three […]

Cold War Cover Stories: The U-2 Incident

On May 1, 1960, at the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union brought down an American U-2 spy plane piloted by Francis Gary Powers.  The U.S. government’s first reaction was to construct a believable cover story to conceal its program of high-altitude surveillance missions over the Soviet Union. Powers began his flight from […]

The Suez Canal Company: Catalyst for an Egyptian Crisis

The Suez Crisis of 1956 had far-reaching implications not only for Egypt and the Middle East, but throughout the world. President Gamal Abdel Nasser had risen to power determined to rid Egypt of colonial influence and avoid Cold War alignment. When the U.S. and U.K. suddenly withdrew their offer to help finance construction of the […]