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Diplomatic Insecurity: The State Department Leaves the U.S. Embassy in Morocco in Peril

Threats against embassies are an ongoing concern that heads of mission, especially in certain parts of the world like the Middle East, must contend with on an ongoing basis. In the post-9/11 world, the State Department has been proactive in building bomb-resistant embassies, beefing up security along the perimeter, and taking steps to ensure the […]

The Birthday Party Coup Attempt on Morocco’s King Hassan II

The Arab world’s longest-ruling monarch at the time of his death, King Hassan II survived several coup attempts during his reign. By far the strangest occurred in the middle of his forty-second birthday party. The King had provoked strong opposition, protest demonstrations, and riots in response to his centrally controlled rule. He had dissolved Parliament […]

Getting a Global Education as a Foreign Service Family

Having a global education is a unique privilege; however, it may become difficult to balance. Foreign Service Officers often take their families abroad when called to duty. Their spouses either work in the host country or stay behind and take care of their children. The children typically attend American or international schools in the host […]

Fundraising for Presidential Campaigns — and Serving as U.S. Ambassador to Spain

Approximately a third of U.S. ambassadors have been politically appointees over the last 50 years, including some of our very best.  Alan Solomont’s oral history provides a candid account of his work as a fundraiser for both successful and unsuccessful Democratic presidential candidates.  Solomont’s engagement at the highest levels of American politics led to his […]

Stirrings of Islamic Militancy in Nigeria: An Ambassador’s Recollections

When Thomas Pickering was Ambassador to Nigeria in 1980-83, he witnessed the stirrings of Islamic militancy and other transformations of the centuries-old practice of Islam in that country.  Fringe fractions were emerging in some regions. The “Maitatsine,” loyal to Mohammed Marwa, whose followers believed him to be prophet, brought major rioting to Kano. Marwa was […]

Witness to the Arab Spring in Tunisia

In December 2010, Tunisian fruit vendor Mohamed Bouazizi proved that it can take just a single moment to spark a revolution. Humiliated and economically desperate, Bouazizi set himself on fire to protest a corrupt and repressive government. That act unleashed a wave of anger that spread first across Tunisia, then much of North Africa and […]

Whistle-Blowing on American Corruption in Russia

USAID unearthed a major corruption scandal in Russia in the late 1990s involving Harvard University’s Institute for International Development.  Dr. Janet Ballantyne, USAID’s mission director, blew the whistle. In her oral history, Ballantyne discusses the consternation this caused with U.S. Embassy leadership, and the repercussions of her reporting on relationships with key Russian officials. Throughout […]