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House Un-American: Foreign-Born Wives of American Diplomats

Before World War II, there was a concern, particularly with upper-level Foreign Service officers like Ambassador William C. Bullitt, regarding American diplomats marrying foreign-born women. He used his influence with President Franklin Roosevelt to encourage a rule requiring FSO’s to submit their resignation and formally request permission to marry foreign spouses. Many people felt that marrying foreign wives took away from American diplomacy and created un-American homes and embassies.

After the war, many men came back to the States and requested marriages to women they had met abroad, so the rule became unsustainable and was changed. Though the rule was changed, tensions prevailed between American wives and foreign-born wives, as they subtly competed against one another to show that they were classier, better educated or more suited to the role of the diplomatic wife. Read more

The 1991 Madrid Peace Conference

The Madrid Peace Conference, held from October 30 to November 1, 1991, marked the first time that Israeli leaders negotiated face to face with delegations from Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and, most importantly, with the Palestinians. In order for this moment to happen, both the United States and the (now former) Soviet Union had agreed to host the conference. Over a tense three days, several bilateral and multilateral talks were scheduled with the goal of covering a wide variety of issues, from the economy to the environment. Read more

Putin, The Early Years

From his crackdown on domestic opposition to his decision to invade Crimea and bomb U.S.-backed rebels in Syria, Vladimir Putin has increasingly become a thorn in the side of Western policymakers. His aggressive policies combined with his KGB background and over-the-top machismo have made him a bigger-than-life figure on the world stage, despite Russia’s flagging economy and declining population.

And yet, in his early years on the political stage, Putin did not stand out as a “rising star” whose rise to power was somehow preordained. Many in the U.S. government saw him, during his stint as Deputy Mayor of St. Petersburg, as someone who was tough on crime and potentially helpful to U.S. interests. After Putin’s unforeseen rise to the presidency in May 2000, President George W. Bush famously said in June 2001 that he had looked in Putin’s soul and found him trustworthy. Read more