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Melissa Wells: From Vegas Showgirl to Chief of Mission

Melissa Foelsch Wells, accomplished diplomat and four-time ambassador, was among the pioneers who paved the way for women to work in the Foreign Service. The daughter of a physicist and a renowned Estonian opera singer and film star, Wells grew up travelling around the United States and Mexico before her family settled in Hollywood. She […]

Transnistria — Life in a Russian Bear Hug

Transnistria is a small breakaway state located between the Dniester River and Moldova’s eastern border with Ukraine. In November 1990, limited fighting broke out between Russian-backed pro-Transnistrian forces and the Moldovan police and military. The fighting intensified in March 1992, and lasted until an uneasy yet lasting ceasefire was established on July 22, 1992. Transnistria’s […]

Ambassador to a Small World

Back to Memoirs and Occasional Papers Ambassador to a Small World is a highly personal portrait of Chad from the vantage point of Christopher E. Goldthwait, the longest-serving U.S. Ambassador to N’Djamena. The book touches on Chad’s politics, economy, and society and on U.S. foreign policy, foreign aid, and the life of the small American […]

American Diplomacy at Risk

A strong State Department, based on a strong Foreign Service and a strong Civil Service, is a critical component of America’s security. But America’s diplomacy—the front line of our defenses—is in trouble. Increasing politicization undermines institutional strength; almost no career officers serve in the most senior State positions, while short-term political appointees penetrate ever deeper […]

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“Like Star Wars and Fiddler on the Roof” — Life with the Sinai Field Mission

The relative peace between Israel and Egypt, particularly on the Sinai, has been one of the few bright spots in the Middle East in the last 40 years. In 1975, Israel made a key compromise to withdraw from the strategic Giddi Pass and Mitla Pass in the Sinai Peninsula in exchange for monitoring by third parties. The United States established the […]

The Collapse of Order in the Middle East

Will Rogers once observed that “when you get into trouble 5,000 miles from home, you’ve got to have been looking for it.”  It’s a good deal more than 5.000 miles to Baghdad or Damascus from here.  And, boy, have we gotten into trouble!  We are trying to cope with the cumulative consequences of multiple failures.  Just about every […]

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Reviving the Foreign Service, Part II

This article first appeared in the May 2013 edition of the Foreign Service Journal. In it, Susan R. Johnson, the former President of the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), discusses the differences — and deficiencies — in the current personnel systems at the State Department and ways to improve them. You can read Stephanie Kinney’s […]

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