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Geiger Counters, and a Nanny Who Became a Millionaire—Establishing a USAID Mission in Kazakhstan

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, USAID made Central Asia a top priority—“no matter where you were posted and where you were on your current assignment” employees were urged to head there. Jonathan Addleton was working for USAID in post-apartheid South Africa. Central Asia intrigued him, and the organization quickly agreed to send Addleton […]

Mission Unspeakable: When North Koreans Tried to Kill the President of South Korea

On October 9, 1983, while South Korean President Chun Doo-Hwan was on a visit to Rangoon, Burma to lay a wreath at the Martyr’s Mausoleum of Swedagon Pagoda, a bomb concealed in the roof exploded, killing 21 people including four senior South Korean officials. President Chun was spared because his car had been delayed in […]

Getting on the Seoul Train — The 1988 Summer Olympic Games

The Olympic Games represent the height of sporting diplomacy, with thousands of athletes transcending politics for two weeks as they represent their countries on the world stage. While the athletic spectacles entrance and amaze on television, without the behind-the-scenes political efforts and negotiations, there would be no Olympic Games. For many countries, hosting the Olympics […]

The Greek Debt Crisis — How Did It Get Here?

The ongoing Eurozone crisis has taken on the dimensions of a long, repetitive Greek drama. After years of imposed austerity, Greece voted against accepting the bailout terms proposed by its EU creditors in a referendum in early July 2015, only to see the leftist government under Prime MinisterAlexis Tsipras accept another bailout in exchange for […]

The Afghan Invasion as Seen from U.S. Embassy Moscow

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was, among other things, a horrible political miscalculation, lasting nine bloody years and resulting in the death of some one million civilians as well as forcing millions of others to flee the country. It led to another cold spell in U.S.-Soviet relations as the Carter administration responded by boycotting the USSR’s […]

The Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan — December 1979

It was to last nearly a decade and would plant the seeds for the rise of the Taliban and Islamic terrorism and the subsequent invasion by the U.S. more than 20 years later.  On December 24, 1979, the Soviet Union sent thousands of troops into Afghanistan and immediately assumed complete military and political control of […]