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.

Combatting Corruption in Egypt During the Arab Spring: USAID’s Role

The eighteen-day revolution to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak in 2011 brought a wave of democracy to Egypt—one that was widely supported by the United States and much of the international community. Despite Mubarak’s reluctance to step down and efforts to eliminate Egypt’s internet access during the protests, the mass assembly in Tahrir Square eventually pushed […]



Witness to the Start of Sri Lanka’s Brutal Civil War

The Sri Lankan Civil War was one of the bloodiest conflicts in recent times, claiming the lives of nearly 100,000 people. Foreign Service Officer Dorothy Black was posted in Sri Lanka in the early years of the conflict (1983-86) and recalls a time of constant tension, political intransigence, and death.  Terrorists routinely placed plastic bombs […]



General’s Coup Attempt Prompts Evacuation from Guinea-Bissau

At the crack of dawn on June 7, 1998, Ambassador Peggy Blackford woke to sounds of gunfire outside and someone banging on her door. Bissau, the capital of Guinea-Bissau, was under siege by army general Ansumane Mane and other dissidents in the national army. Blackford recalls how she and approximately fifty other people, including embassy […]



Keeping Kissinger Current at the Outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War

Ted Feifer wrote daily briefs for Secretary of State Henry Kissinger at the outbreak of Lebanon’s civil war in 1975.  By the time it ended in approximately 1990, the war had claimed the lives of over 120,000 civilians.  Feifer was on his first tour in the Foreign Service, which found him working in the State […]



The United States and South Africa: The Binational Commission in the Years Following Apartheid

Directly following the election of Nelson Mandela as President of South Africa in 1994, the U.S. government began to work closely with the new South African leadership to facilitate development efforts. Before Mandela’s election, South Africa’s apartheid system and U.S. laws hindered U.S. aid. However, after the election of President Mandela, the binational “Gore-Mbeki Commission” […]



Reopening the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam: Conflicting Emotions

Secretary of State Warren Christopher arrived in Hanoi, Vietnam in 1995 to reopen the U.S. Embassy just after three weeks of President Bill Clinton announcing the restoration of diplomatic relations with Vietnam. “All of the Americans were emotional,” recalled pioneering State Department official Joan Spero, then serving as Clinton’s Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy […]



Being the Security Agent-in-Command During the 1985 Visit of Prince Charles and Princess Diana to America

When Prince Charles and Princess Diana of the United Kingdom came to visit the United States in 1985, Dennis Williams of the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) volunteered to be Agent-in-Command (AIC) of the British Royals’ security detail.  Ahead of the two-week visit, Williams faced a challenge convincing State Department management that he […]



1200 Monkeys Was the Least of It: a Case of Kickbacks and Sexual Harassment at USAID

Ann Van Dusen’s long and successful career USAID brought many challenges, including the case of a contractor implicated in kickbacks, sexual harassment and and the irregular importation of 1200 monkeys to the United States.  Her conclusion from the sorry 1980s episode? “It is important to find ways to make it safe for whistleblowers to speak […]



A “Very Japanese” Arrangement to Dismantle a Soviet MIG-25

On September 6, 1976 a MIG-25 (foxbat), the most advanced Soviet fighter jet at the time, landed at Hokadote Airport in Hokkaido, Japan. Pilot Viktor Belenko emerged waving a pistol in the air and requested asylum in the United States.  Washington promptly approved Belenko’s asylum request and asked young diplomat Nicholas Platt to handle his […]



USAID’s role in helping rebuild Rwanda after the genocide of 1994

Philip-Michael Gary’s career with USAID put him face-to-face with then-Vice President and Minister of Defense of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, in the aftermath of the infamous Rwandan genocide. Following the 1994 genocide, which led to the deaths of up to 800,000 Rwandans of Tutsi ethnicity, Kagame reached out to USAID to assist him in restoring order […]