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.

“The Wild West” — Peshawar and the Afghan Mujahedeen






In the late 1970s, the USSR had been supporting the Afghan government in its fight against rebels, who had made considerable inroads and controlled territory outside Afghanistan’s major cities. Determined to squash a growing threat, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan on December 24, 1979. Soviet troops and swarms of helicopters overthrew the government, which Moscow believed had […]






When Archaeology Meets Diplomacy: The Dig at Herculaneum






When Vesuvius erupted on August 24, 79 AD, it famously engulfed the Roman town of Pompeii and, less famously, the richer town of Herculaneum. Both places sat under 50-60 feet of volcanic ash until they were rediscovered in 1748. In contrast to Pompeii, the hot gas and rock flow preserved Herculaneum’s organic-based objects, such as […]






Pay Bribe, Win Contract: Doing Business in Post-Soviet Lithuania






How do you promote U.S. investment in another country when bribes are an ingrained way of life in its business culture and the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act prohibits American companies from slipping payments under the table? It is a dilemma faced around the world by Foreign Commercial Officers and others charged with promoting U.S. business abroad. Such […]






Brexit — Now What?






The decision by referendum of the British electorate to depart the European Union — after a campaign in which facts and reason were overwhelmed by emotion and nationalism – was not only unexpected but an exceedingly rare thing.  It was a decision by a major country to withdraw from a major political and economic association […]






Kleptocracy and Anti-Communism: When Mobutu Ruled Zaire






Born to a modest family, Joseph-Desiré Mobutu prospered in the Force Publique, the army of the Belgian Congo. Mobutu became army chief of staff following a coup against Patrice Lumumba, and after a second coup on November 25, 1965 assumed power as military dictator and president. He changed the Congo’s name to the Republic of […]






The Sudden Rise of Muammar Qaddafi and a Hostile Libya






On September 1st, 1969, a group of young Libyan military officers overthrew the Libyan royal family and established the Libyan Arab Republic. The mastermind of this coup d’état was a 27-year-old officer named Muammar al-Qaddafi, who following the coup effectively established himself as both the country’s head of state and head of the armed forces. […]






Regarding Henry, Protecting Nancy – On Security Detail with the Kissingers






Traditionally, Secretaries of State receive a personal protection detail from the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS). However, Henry Kissinger eschewed the DS detail in favor of the Secret Service protection he had as the National Security Advisor at the White House. His wife Nancy, a brilliant and glamorous New York aristocrat who spent years […]






Get While the Getting’s Good: Departing Communist China






The decision to close an embassy and order departure of diplomatic personnel is a signal of last resort that bilateral relations are damaged and unlikely to improve soon. This occurred in China when Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist Party fled the capital and retreated to Taiwan on December 8, 1949 in the wake of Mao Zedong’s establishment […]






The Charismatic Dalai Lama






Born into a humble farming family on July 6, 1935, Lhamo Dhondup (Tenzin Gyatso), had subtle beginnings before he became the leader of an entire people. After the thirteenth Dalai Lama’s passing, the high lamas searched for his next reincarnation among the Tibetan people. Tibetan Buddhists monks journeyed to a small village and found a […]






Igniting Iraq’s Invasion of Kuwait – Loans, Land, Oil and Access






Iraq invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990 largely for economic reasons, but the contiguous Gulf countries had long-standing territorial conflicts as well. The decision to attack was based on the need to erase Iraq’s massive debt: Iraq had largely financed its 1980-1988 war with Iran through loans and owed some $37 billion to Gulf creditors […]






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