Your browser (Internet Explorer 7 or lower) is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites. Learn how to update your browser.

X

The passing of former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright

Madeleine Albright

The Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training mourns the passing of former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright.

We send heartfelt condolences to her family and many friends and colleagues around the world. Hers was a remarkable life, marked by many “firsts” and decades of commitment to diplomacy. We were honored to have her as an honorary director. She will be missed.

View All Featured posts Articles.

Combating Terrorism in Iraq and Syria: Stephen Kontos and the Counter-ISIS Coalition

In the midst of war, terrorism, and instability, Stephen Kontos was tasked with uniting a coalition to combat one of the Middle East’s greatest terrorist threats—The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria [ISIS]. Through their work, Kontos and his team turned a cramped conference room of a dozen people into a dedicated coalition of over 70 countries collaborating on counterterrorism in Iraq and Syria.

The Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS at a conference in Washington, DC, 2019 | U.S. Embassy in Syria
The Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS at a conference in Washington, DC, 2019 | U.S. Embassy in Syria

The Syrian Civil War, with civilians and rebels fighting against what they deemed an oppressive regime under Bashar al-Assad, provided a perfect storm of chaos for ISIS to spread its influence. While Kontos had been working with the U.S. Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations [CSO] since 2012 to provide non-lethal aid to Syrian opposition movements, ISIS’s capture of Mosul in July 2014 signaled an alternative rising threat. ISIS gained territory and power in the region, prompting the United States to focus its attention from aiding Syrian opposition to solely addressing the terrorist group. In 2014, Kontos was tasked with coordinating the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs’ Global Coalition to Counter ISIS to eliminate the threat once and for all. With numerous actors invested in the Syrian civil war and Middle East counterterrorism, the U.S. Coalition saw the importance of banding efforts to bring about the greatest chance of defeating the terrorist group.
Read more

Fighting for Peace: Serving During the Sri Lankan Civil War

As a USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development) officer serving in Vietnam during the firefights and bombings of the Tet Offensive, David J. Garms experienced violence and conflict innumerable times The memories of this experience stayed with him throughout his career, even in subsequent foreign service postings, which were calmer in comparison. However, as we see in this “moment in U.S. diplomatic history,” his Sri Lanka assignment in 1986 served as a reminder of his past experience serving in countries affected by violence.

I took the picture in 2004, it shows a LTTE bike platoon north of Kilinochi (2004) Qz10, en.wiki
I took the picture in 2004, it shows a LTTE bike platoon north of Kilinochi (2004) Qz10, en.wiki

1980s Sri Lanka suffered from widespread violent, ethnic-based conflict involving the Velupillai Prabhakaran-led Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE, Tamil Tigers) and the Sinhalese-run Sri Lankan government. Although the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord of 1987 was expected to create an end to the conflict, it continued until 2009. An estimated 100,000 people died as a result of this 25-year-long conflict. Amidst a violent setting, Garms played a role in helping rally financial support for peace and development in Sri Lanka.

Read more

A Murder in the Straits Colony—Life in Colonial Singapore

In the case of most diplomats, the investigation of crimes is an activity that is neither envied nor sought out; however, in the case of a few adventurous men in Colonial Singapore, this was not the case. Like most of the world, Singapore was once a European colony, namely a British one. And like most British colonies, there were several predominant divides in society: rich, poor, Anglo, and foreign.

Cairnhil, Singapore (1842) Charles Andrew Dyce | NUS Museum
Cairnhil, Singapore (1842) Charles Andrew Dyce | NUS Museum

This stratified society, combined with Singapore’s status as an international hub of trade and the many opium dens in the area, made the colony a hotbed of crime. Blackmail, prostitution, racketeering, conspiracies, and murder were all present. The emergence of “Secret Societies,” similar to street gangs or the Mafia, contributed further to these issues. While some Asian businessmen were able to amass fortunes, such as Aw Boon Haw (also known as the Tiger Balm King), most non-European people either had to live in perpetual poverty or risk it all by joining one of the secret societies. While increased crackdowns starting in the 1890s by police forces helped to suppress these societies, some have managed to survive until today. Read more