Moments Posted in A Moment in U.S. Diplomatic History

This is an archive of Moments in U.S. Diplomatic History posted in the A Moment in U.S. Diplomatic History category.

Fighting LGBT Discrimination, and Fighting to Stay in the Foreign Service

Up until the late 1990s, Foreign Service careers were denied to openly gay men under the pretense of security concerns. Jan Krc was one of the men who faced–and overcame–this form of prejudice. After being interrogated about his sexual orientation, Krc was fired from his job at the U.S. Information Agency. Instead of lying down […]



“I am a Plant:” An Apparent Iraqi Spy Among U.S. Diplomats

Would you be willing to hire a potential foreign intelligence agent if it meant direct access to an antagonistic, elusive foreign government? During his time in Baghdad in the 1970s, Allen Keiswetter had to make this crucial decision. After the Six Day War, Iraq severed diplomatic ties with the United States. Keiswetter and other members […]



Remembering Bob Hawke, Australia’s Colorful Prime Minister

Bob Hawke was an Australian original. One of the country’s most powerful political figures, he was observed by generations of American diplomats. He started out as a dynamic labor leader in the 1960s before becoming a Labor Party MP in the Australian parliament.  He later led Labor to a overwhelming victory in the 1983 general […]



“Not Treated as Beyond the Pale:” Cold War Nuclear Options to Respond to a Soviet Bloc Invasion

The mid-nineteen seventies are often considered a time of détente (the easing of tensions) between the United States and the Soviet Union. Arms control treaties and agreements were signed limiting the kinds of weapons of mass destruction that could be used in war. For the first time in many years, the possibility of global nuclear […]



George H.W. Bush, American Diplomat

George H.W. Bush was a diplomat before he became the 41st president of the United States.  Bush served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (1971-73) and Ambassador to China (1974-75).  In a fascinating C-Span interview in 1999, Brian Lamb asked President Bush what he learned while serving as a diplomat.  Among the future president’s […]



Conflict, Cooperation, and Corruption: USAID in Kenya in the 1990s

U.S. policy toward Kenya during the long presidency of Daniel arap Moi (1978-2002) fluctuated between a close Cold War embrace, to unusually harsh public criticism, to quiet pressure behind the scenes.  Moi’s tenure was marked by consolidation of power, outbreaks of political violence, and corrupt elections. In the end, however, Moi respected constitutional limits and […]



Thanksgiving: How U.S. Diplomats Celebrate an American Tradition Around the World

Gobble, gobble!  Thanksgiving is a unique American holiday —  one that U.S. embassies, foreign service families, and American expats of all kinds celebrate around the world.  We dipped into our oral history collection for some Thanksgiving memories. At its best, Thanksgiving is a celebration of food, family, friends, and cross-cultural exchange and understanding.  Happy Thanksgiving!



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 […]



Spy vs. Spy: The Yin-he Incident and U.S.-China Intelligence Rivalry

Was the intelligence correct? Was the U.S. being set up? These were questions facing John Tkacik when the United States picked up evidence in 1993 that a Chinese cargo ship, the Yin-he, was shipping chemical weapons precursor to Iran. Tkacik was a China specialist at the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), and […]



Rich in Oil and Rich in Corruption — Nigeria in the Early 1970s

Oil boomed. Revenue skyrocketed. So did political corruption, economic dependency, and environmental degradation. The dramatic spike in oil production in the Niger Delta in the early 1970s had social, political, economic and environmental consequences in Nigeria that few imagined at the time.  Many of these consequences were negative. The so-called “oil curse” had descended upon […]