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.

John A. Burroughs – From Tackling with the Philadelphia Eagles to Tackling Equal Opportunity at the State Department

Growing up in segregated Washington DC inspired John A. Burroughs to a life-long commitment to equal opportunity.  He went on to serve as Ambassador to Malawi and Uganda, and to head up equal employment efforts at the Department of the Navy.  Burroughs worked alongside big names such as Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and Admiral […]



Never the Twain Shall Meet? Bureaucratic Cultures at USAID and the State Department

The famously contrasting bureaucratic cultures of the State Department and USAID made a sharp impression on Donald Bliss, USAID’s executive secretary during the Ford Administration.  Bliss recalls needing to submit 14 copies of a fairly simple memorandum from USAID’s Administrator Daniel Parker to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.  Bliss, a Harvard Law grad and Peace […]



Death Squads in El Salvador, the Taliban in Afghanistan: a Diplomat’s Challenges

American Foreign Service Officer Todd Greentree served in El Salvador from 1981-82, a time when violence from local “death squads” was at its peak.  He also served in Afghanistan from 2008-2012, the height of what was then termed the Global War on Terror.  Greentree’s oral history describes first-hand the dangers of living as a diplomat […]



An Espionage Caper in Ghana; Helping Americans Escape Rwanda — Scenes From a Diplomatic Life

Arlene Render’s career took her from a segregated neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio, to three ambassadorships and a lifetime of diplomatic accomplishment, particularly in Africa.  Her experiences included cleaning up after a messy espionage affaire in Ghana and helping ensure that safe evacuation of American citizens from the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.  Ambassador Render attended West […]



The Impact of China’s Tiananmen Square Massacre in Taiwan and on the Mainland

Hong Kong-born U.S. Foreign Service Officer Edward Loo migrated to the United States as an infant, and went on to serve in Taiwan at the time of the infamous 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre — and in mainland China during the period of martial law that followed.  Loo’s career as a Foreign Service Officer spanned nearly […]



Cold War Cover Stories: The U-2 Incident

On May 1, 1960, at the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union brought down an American U-2 spy plane piloted by Francis Gary Powers.  The U.S. government’s first reaction was to construct a believable cover story to conceal its program of high-altitude surveillance missions over the Soviet Union. Powers began his flight from […]



The Suez Canal Company: Catalyst for an Egyptian Crisis

The Suez Crisis of 1956 had far-reaching implications not only for Egypt and the Middle East, but throughout the world. President Gamal Abdel Nasser had risen to power determined to rid Egypt of colonial influence and avoid Cold War alignment. When the U.S. and U.K. suddenly withdrew their offer to help finance construction of the […]



USAID: Working With State and DOD on Counter Terrorism – and with Oliver North in Honduras

Elizabeth Kvitashvili’s USAID career took her from Afghanistan to Honduras to Russia. She led efforts to provide humanitarian assistance amidst crisis and vast human suffering. Along the way she encountered Oliver North in Central America and President Clinton at a chocolate factory in Russia. She also helped USAID determine its role in countering the spread of […]



The Diplomacy of Tragedy: Burmese Airways Crash Kills 14 Americans in 1987

In the early morning hours of October 11, 1987, a Burmese turboprop plane transporting 49 passengers, including 36 foreign nationals and four crew members, departed from Rangoon (now Yangon) and began its flight towards the popular tourist town of Pagan.  Approaching the airport, the plane’s wing clipped the ridge of a mountain just outside the […]



Russian Interference and the Marshall Plan

Russian Disinformation is Not New, Say Diplomats Who Implemented the Marshall Plan The obstacles the United States faced in implementing the Marshall Plan in the late 1940s and early 1950s included a vigorous propaganda contest with the USSR and their European communist allies. By the time Secretary of State George Marshall announced the plan at […]