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The ACDA-USIA Merger into State — The End of of an Era

As the Cold War began to go into full swing, the United States soon realized the need for distinct agencies that would operate outside of the existing federal executive departments. Accordingly, independent agencies such as the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) and the United States Information Agency (USIA) were created in 1961 and […]

Egypt Before the Arab Spring: Shifting Tides of Democracy and Westernization

The Arab Spring began in late 2010 as a series of anti-government protests throughout several Middle Eastern countries that permanently altered the political and social climate of the region. The time leading up to, during, and after this event has been full of turmoil and important political change. Hilda “Bambi” Arellano served as the USAID […]

A Precursor to the Downfall: Living Through Soviet Perestroika and Glasnost

The international community hoped great changes would come to the Soviet Union after Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in March 1985 and demonstrated his willingness to distinguish himself from the previous Soviet leaders. Gorbachev reversed the precedent of invariably praising the Soviet system when he criticized the inefficient Soviet economy in a speech delivered in […]

An Expropriation Saga in Peru

For many Latin American states, expropriation has been a hammer in the toolbox of land or labor reform. For the United States, expropriation has been a thorn in the side of its companies’ profitable operations in the region—and, therefore, a threat to its interests. This conflict has played out many times throughout the region. In […]

Siberia and Samizdat: Moscow’s Underground During Communism

Long regarded as a monolithic entity where any dissension was ruthlessly suppressed by the KGB, Western audiences often ignored the intellectual culture of the Soviet Union. However, this viewpoint dismisses the underground scene of Soviet dissidents who played a critical role in speaking out against and documenting the abuses of the regime. Whether through human […]

“Dining is the Soul of Diplomacy”

Lord Palmerston, a former British prime minister and three time foreign minister, once famously noted, “Dining is the soul of diplomacy.” Countless diplomatic discussions have occurred over good food and drink, centered at well-dressed dining tables in embassies and diplomatic residences. Food brings people together, and the dining table makes for an excellent setting to […]

The Last American Diplomat in Medellín—Countering Anti-Americanism in Cartel-Era Colombia

Guns, cocaine, and kidnappings—this was the state of much of Colombia in the early 1980s. Medellín in particular, home to the rising Cartel de Medellín and leftist guerrilla insurgents, was the bedrock of anti-Americanism in the country during these years. Strikingly, Medellín was also home to a U.S. consulate at the time, hosting a total […]