Association for Diplomatic Studies & Training https://adst.org Capturing, Preserving, and Sharing the experiences of America's Diplomats Tue, 26 May 2020 23:09:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.1 https://adst.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/cropped-ben_smaller-200x200.jpg Association for Diplomatic Studies & Training https://adst.org 32 32 Fighting the War on Drugs with Bus Stops and Law Books: USAID in Bolivia https://adst.org/2020/05/fighting-the-war-on-drugs-with-bus-stops-and-law-books-usaid-in-bolivia/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=fighting-the-war-on-drugs-with-bus-stops-and-law-books-usaid-in-bolivia Tue, 26 May 2020 11:12:43 +0000 https://adst.org/?p=28967

As the Cold War died down, U.S. assistance to Latin America shifted focus to a new war: the war on drugs. For many, the TV show Narcos, the story of Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar and the dramatic showdown that led to his demise, summarizes this new focus of U.S. foreign policy—and emphasizes the role of the Central Intelligence Agency and the Drug Enforcement Agency. But Narcos doesn’t tell the whole story.

Coca fields in the highlands in Yungas, Bolivia | Wikimedia Commons
Coca fields in the highlands in Yungas, Bolivia | Wikimedia Commons

Militarized interventions characterized the war on drugs throughout the 1970s and 1980s, but the Clinton administration attempted to shift that policy in the early 1990s. Instead of focusing on drug interdiction in the Caribbean basin, the United States would work to reduce coca production and develop anti-drug institutions in source countries like Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia, even as military assistance to Latin American countries continued. Reflecting the Clinton administration’s new philosophy, though, the U.S. Agency for International Development played a strong role in promoting the rule of law and encouraging coca growers to plant alternative crops.

USAID officer Lewis Lucke was assigned to Bolivia in 1992 as a Project Development Officer working on said issues. He became Deputy Mission Director shortly thereafter, and when the Mission Director was reassigned to El Salvador in 1995, Lucke became Mission Director until he departed for Jordan in 1996. Lucke had previously worked on similar projects in Costa Rica; he later became Ambassador to Swaziland and coordinated USAID’s response to the 2010 Haitian earthquake.

Lewis Lucke was interviewed by Mark Tauber on November 16, 2016.

Read Lewis Lucke’s full oral history HERE.

Read more about military assistance to combat Colombia’s “drug barons” HERE. Read about Pablo Escobar and the siege of Colombia’s Palace of Justice HERE.

Read more about Lewis Lucke’s work in rebuilding after the Iraq War HERE and in rebuilding after the Haitian earthquake HERE.

Drafted by Kendrick Foster.

ADST relies on the generous support of our members and readers like you. Please support our efforts to continue capturing, preserving, and sharing the experiences of America’s diplomats.

Excerpts:

“We were doing a lot of anti-drug things and therefore there was a lot of both scrutiny and pressure.”

Moving to Bolivia: So I went to Bolivia — what a place. It was a very different country and place than I had ever been, but I liked it. But then again, I even liked Iraq once I arrived there, so maybe I have a screw loose. But Bolivia was a huge and diverse country with the Andes, jungle and everything in between….

I went as planned or hoped from being Project Development Officer to being Deputy Mission Director. Then my boss Carl [Leonard] was reassigned as Director in El Salvador so I was elevated to Mission Director. I was Mission Director for the last year and a half of my stay in Bolivia … The Director had to assure good coordination with the Embassy and the Ambassador. It was important to make the Ambassador into a supporter and an ally. We were doing a lot of anti-drug things and therefore there was a lot of both scrutiny and pressure. We, in USAID, were an important part of the Embassy team and I always remembered I worked for the Ambassador at the end of the day.

“The government probably didn’t touch the lives of the majority of Bolivians who were very poor anyway. So as Forrest Gump would say, ‘That’s all I have to say about that.’”

           
Bolivian president Gonzalo “Goni” Sanchez de Losada | Wikimedia Commons
Bolivian president Gonzalo “Goni” Sanchez de Losada | Wikimedia Commons

Administration of Justice: Well, a couple of things occurred to me immediately. One was we were very much involved in what we called administration of justice — basically helping the legal system and the court system work better. This was a problem in most of Latin America and it certainly was in Bolivia. A lot of the lessons we had learned because we were so involved in this sector in Costa Rica we were able to apply a lot of that experience to Bolivia. We were doing similar justice programs throughout.

Q. In terms of measuring the success of those programs, did the local population understand that things were getting better with the justice system? Was there any way to measure improved confidence in the local population?

LUCKE: Good question. We had our own internal monitoring and evaluation systems and we always had benchmarks that were established and measured. So we had, let’s call it, an internal system to be able to evaluate the results of these programs, and I think those were generally positive. Even in a place like Bolivia, a little progress in a sector, say justice, that was in such dire need of improvement, to put it diplomatically, was helpful. Whether the local population was aware or not, the people we dealt with in government and the private sector were aware of it. Whether the general population was, probably not at all. But you know the government probably didn’t touch the lives of the majority of Bolivians who were very poor anyway. So as Forrest Gump would say, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

Q: How about the sustainability of the projects you completed? Obviously there were positive outcomes while you were there. Were they sustainable to the best of your knowledge over time?

LUCKE: Well, they were sustainable while I was there. I don’t know over time what really happened. The test probably really is the institutional changes, cultural changes and the training of key individuals and the many lawyers, judges and court administrators and so forth we trained. We would even donate a large number of legal books in Spanish to a lot to universities and law schools all over the country. The situation now, I am just not informed but I am hoping that much has been sustainable. But you know anybody who works in development and hangs on for decades, you are, by definition, an optimist. So I saw a lot of positive changes while I was there.

“We would put our concrete ‘bus stops’ on the straight portions of the roads and planes would land and have their wings knocked off. They quit trying that after a while. We had a running joke with some of the DEA guys after our ‘bus stop’ successes, you know ‘USAID 3, DEA 0.’”

Alternative Development: A second [priority] was what we called “alternative development,” basically trying to help farmers in the coca growing areas develop legal crops to replace coca. Many people would not believe tropical fruit could compete with coca, but in fact, those making money from coca or cocaine were much further up the production chain than the simple campesinos. So, we were working on research and being able to provide alternative crops for the farmers mostly in the Chapare, which is the coca growing zone south of Cochabamba in the Amazon basin. Crops like hearts of palm, star fruit, passion fruit, mangoes, black pepper, bananas and so forth could be grown and marketed successfully in Santa Cruz or even as far away as Argentina.… So a good number of the farmers were actually making good money and they were very happy to not be on the wrong end of the law. Other parts of the Embassy, like DEA, were working on the interdiction side, but USAID was involved in “alternative development” and its moving parts like rural roads, financing, cooperatives and so forth. It was pretty successful.

Q: And there were enough farm to market roads and so on to be able to get their crop.

LUCKE: Yes, we helped improve a lot of those roads and built some of them. In fact, we were ahead of the DEA in terms of taking down narco planes because we built “bus stops” out of concrete on some of the rural roads that were sometimes used as landing strips for the narco planes….

We would put our concrete bus stops on the straight portions of the roads and planes would land and have their wings knocked off. They quit trying that after a while. We had a running joke with some of the DEA guys after our “bus stop” successes, you know “USAID 3, DEA 0.” We were involved in a lot of different kinds of programs and it was a creative time. We had clear channels of communication and pretty good cooperation from the government which was absolutely essential. You don’t have that now in Bolivia and the current President — who was a coca union leader in my time there — threw USAID and DEA out of Bolivia some years back….

Another aspect of our work at the time was a balance of payments programs, economic policy reform just like I had been in Costa Rica and later in Jordan. We hold out the prospect of balance of payments assistance to help the government pay off its external debt to the IMF and the World Bank. An equivalent in local currency was made available and those funds were programmed for additional development activities. We would also pay the government for the eradication of coca, which was controversial as that really didn’t act as a permanent incentive to get out of the coca growing business. So I was involved in all that.

“President Goni Sanchez de Lozada had actually been raised in the States. Goni and his brother Tony spoke Spanish with an American accent which always used to crack me up. They were easy to work with and their people were good too.”

           
Flag of Bolivia | Wikimedia Commons
Flag of Bolivia | Wikimedia Commons

The Mission and the Embassy: There were always internal issues to deal with within the Mission. We moved to a new building. We hired more staff; we continued our programs; we developed new programs — all challenges but part of the deal. We had real good relations with the government at the time. The president was elected [in the middle of] my tour there. President Goni Sanchez de Lozada had actually been raised in the States. Goni and his brother Tony spoke Spanish with an American accent which always used to crack me up. They were easy to work with and their people were good too. It was a friendly and productive relationship for the most part.

I mean you always have issues in difficult times. We were physically separated from the Embassy but spent a lot of time there in meetings and coordinating. I think there was a bit of inevitable resentment by the State folks vis a vis USAID. We had so many external activities and spent money — we had a checkbook they didn’t have so maybe there was some resentment there. This was before State more or less assumed control of USAID’s budget which happened in about 2005-2006 I think. But we were always very aware that we were one team and had to work together. Everything we did was communicated to the Ambassador and DCM [Deputy Chief of Mission]. Neither were shrinking violets but I liked them both and I recall several instances when USAID stepped to the plate with resources, people and creativity to help solve some important Embassy issues. It was very important for me to show that USAID could work cooperatively with the rest of the Embassy and succeed together. By the time I left, I know Ambassador [Curtis Warren] Kamman was very satisfied with USAID. We supported each other and it worked out well for the Embassy’s effectiveness as a whole.

TABLE OF CONTENTS HIGHLIGHTS

Education
BA in Global Studies, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill 1970-1974
MBA, Thunderbird School of Global Management 1976-1977
Joined USAID 1978
La Paz, Bolivia — Deputy Mission Director, USAID 1992-1995
La Paz, Bolivia — Mission Director, USAID 1995-1996
Baghdad, Iraq—Reconstruction Coordinator, USAID 2002-2004
Swaziland—Ambassador 2004-2006

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Keeping the Skies Open: Defending the Open Skies Treaty https://adst.org/2020/05/keeping-the-skies-open-defending-the-open-skies-treaty/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=keeping-the-skies-open-defending-the-open-skies-treaty Fri, 22 May 2020 14:29:35 +0000 https://adst.org/?p=28941

The checkered history between Russia and the United States was arguably the most transformational relationship for world events in the second half of the twentieth century. The ideological struggle between communism and capitalism waged under the dark cloud of potential nuclear annihilation led to the development of several arms control agreements like the SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks) and START (Strategic Arms Reduction) treaties.

US, Russia, and EU Flags, Wikimedia Commons
US, Russia, and EU Flags, Wikimedia Commons

These treaties were meant to better report, monitor, and sometimes limit the amount or types of nuclear weapons that the countries could possess. The Open Skies Treaty is another example of an arms control treaty oriented more towards the control and transparency of both nuclear and conventional forces in Europe, Russia, and the United States.

The use of dated camera technology became a hot button issue that could potentially derail this important arms control treaty that allows all nations to view the positions of military forces and facilities. During this time, Greg Delawie served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance at the State Department. He was in charge of making sure the United States and other signatories to the treaties upheld their commitments. To do this, Delawie had to navigate unfamiliar technology and continuously defend the treaty both from those within the U.S. government that believed the treaty should no longer exist as well as from Russian threats to pull out of the agreement. Here is his story . . . .

Greg Delawie’s interview was conducted by Mark Tauber on February 19, 2019.

Read Greg Delawie’s interview HERE.

Drafted by Ryan Jensen

ADST relies on the generous support of our members and readers like you. Please support our efforts to continue capturing, preserving, and sharing the experiences of America’s diplomats.

Excerpts:

“The OST [Open Skies Treaty] was one of the foundational elements of conventional arms control in Europe because it gave, especially our European partners, the ability to at relatively low cost conduct aerial monitoring of Russian military deployments.”

           
Russian Airforce, Wikimedia Commons
Russian Airforce, Wikimedia Commons

Open Skies and Arms Control: Another big conventional arms control issue was the Open Skies Treaty. Just to avoid confusion, there are two different and completely unrelated treaties using the title “open skies’… I had worked on such a treaty with Italy earlier in my career; the other “open skies treaty” is an arms control agreement that encompasses most of NATO, Russia, and a few other countries. It is an agreement on cooperative aerial monitoring. Basically under this open skies treaty, our country has the ability to overfly a partner country with an airplane that includes cameras and to take pictures of what’s going on down below. There are limits to how many flights you could have, to exactly what the cameras can do, and so on. Today I will only talk about the arms control version of the Open Skies Treaty (OST), not the civil aviation version.

The OST was one of the foundational elements of conventional arms control in Europe because it gave, especially our European partners, the ability to at relatively low cost conduct aerial monitoring of Russian military deployments. They can overfly Western Russia and take pictures of what Russian forces are up to. The plane then goes back home with the film for analysts to review. When the Treaty was negotiated 20 years ago, even up to today, it specified the use of regular film, basically like movie film, despite the fact we have had digital cameras on our phones for years now. So photo analysts, like those portrayed in the film Thirteen Days about the Cuban Missile Crisis, figure out what was going on when the pictures were taken. Most of our European partners don’t have satellites in orbit that have this capability.

So it was good for them to have this capability to overfly Russia and have their own data about what the heck was going on there. We of course use the treaty too. We have a couple of open skies planes, that are basically 707s that were heavily modified to include the camera and other sensors the treaty allows. The planes are operated by the Air Force and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). There are some capabilities that you can get from open skies that you cannot get from satellites; for example, under certain circumstances the plane can fly under clouds, whereas a satellite view is obscured by clouds.

…One of the key provisions of the treaty is that the country being overflown gets a copy of the film, so this gave Ukraine pictures of Eastern Ukraine it could use for various purposes. Open Skies flights are unclassified, as is the film…

“Because this is a film camera, the photo analysts that work on this use the same types of light tables that you saw in the Thirteen Days film.”

Smile for the Camera:…The photo analysts can get really useful information from this sometimes. Because this is a film camera, the photo analysts that work on this use the same types of light tables that you saw in the Thirteen Days film. In fact, I’ve seen them and they’re pretty old. Fortunately DTRA and DOD still employ people that understand how to look at a regular picture, not a computer picture, and learn stuff from it. So that’s the way the Open Skies treaty works, more or less. We and our Allies fly over Russia, they fly over the United States and European countries. Every once in a while this gets in the news with a headline like “Administration allows Russian spy plane to fly over the United States and take pictures.”

It is a decades old agreement. The idea originated in the Eisenhower Administration, the treaty was negotiated during the Bush 41 administration and came into force during the Bush 43 administration. It’s pretty straightforward. And the main thing to remember is that American technical experts from DTRA are on their plane when they’re over the United States. The Russians are on our plane when we’re over Russia. We wanted to maintain this, since the open skies treaty is a pillar of conventional arms control, but the 21st century was catching up to us. Russia wanted to get rid of the film camera and replace it with a digital version. The treaty basically put limits on what a camera could do, such as the resolution can only be so much. Of course any modern digital camera is probably going to exceed the resolution of whatever a 1990s-era treaty said.

“There were certainly people in the U.S. government who just didn’t want it to continue, felt that running the treaty cost us a lot of money that we could use for other things, and did not trust Russia.”

           
Defense Threat Agency, Wikimedia Commons
Defense Threat Agency, Wikimedia Commons

Negotiation and Opposition: So it turned out to be very difficult to negotiate this. There were certainly people in the U.S. government who just didn’t want it to continue, felt that running the treaty cost us a lot of money that we could use for other things, and did not trust Russia. Even though our DTRA experts get to wander all over the Russian plane before it flies over the United States, some people were not confident that we could find whatever the Russians were trying to hide in the plane. As often happens in the U.S. government, the people who opposed allowing Russia to use a digital camera started putting up all kinds of objections; some of them were reasonable and others were just specious efforts trying to snow policy people with technology. So I had to learn a lot so I could figure out which objections were reasonable and needed to be dealt with, and which were specious. There was a U.S. Government policy decision that the treaty was going to continue and be accommodated to the 21st century, which basically meant that we would have to accept the replacement of the old film cameras with digital cameras; at least one of our NATO Allies also wanted to replace its Open Skies film camera with a digital camera as well, so it was not just the Russians that cared about the issue.

Q: In essence, a better camera but not one as good as on a satellite and so on.

DELAWIE:…Anyway, to defend this treaty I had to figure out a way to tell the difference between legitimate objections and dust thrown in the eyes by these opponents in the U.S. government. There was a fair amount of dust. It was really unfortunate. I’d still believed in the one team, one mission theme that Colin Powell always emphasized when he was our secretary of state, and that the U.S. government should work together. And once a decision is made it’s incumbent on career people to implement that decision; unfortunately that doesn’t really happen all the time in the government. So some of these people were just trying to snow non-experts with technology gibberish and it was a shame that that was going on.

Q: Was the opposition coming from within the department, from other offices or from other agencies?

DELAWIE: Other agencies. I ended up spending an awful lot of time in my three years in AVC on the open skies treaty basically defending it from opponents within the U.S. government; it still exists today.

“And our European partners really wanted to keep the Open Skies Treaty afloat. Because many of them did not have other ways of getting overhead imagery of what was going on in Russia.”

Q: Did you succeed in the end in changing the cameras to a digital one?

Keeping the Skies Open: DELAWIE: It was the Russians that had a digital camera. I wanted a digital camera for our plane too of course; the estimates on how much that would cost were unfortunately in the $1 billion range for DOD. Whatever happened with the U.S. plane happened after I left. But we eventually made an agreement to accept the Russian camera. We had to work with the allies because it was mostly their countries the plane would fly over. It would fly over the United States a couple of times a year. But it mostly flew over Europe; every participating country had to offer so many flights per year. I believe we ultimately made a deal that accepted the Russian digital camera.

The risk was always that if we didn’t agree, then they would just drop out of that treaty like they did the CFE [Conventional Forces in Europe] Treaty. And our European partners really wanted to keep the Open Skies Treaty afloat. Because many of them did not have other ways of getting overhead imagery of what was going on in Russia. Ultimately I think it worked out okay; the treaty still exists. And now it is less controversial in the United States. But I had to learn so much about computers and digital photography in order to, as the DAS, stave off these attacks on the treaty; it was almost as hard as learning another language…

…Some of the opponents of the treaty in the U.S. government went to congressional staffers to get them spun up about the treaty, always with the thought that the Russians would be flying spy planes over the United States and we couldn’t possibly trust them to live within the terms of the treaty. I objected to this for a couple of reasons. First, if Russia did cheat and our DTRA experts found out about it, then that would be really bad for them. And secondly, I knew that the DTRA people who were engineers and who got to crawl over the Russian plane before it did anything in the United States were incredibly talented people. If it was possible to find something on their plane, I was confident that they would find it, if it was something that was not allowed by the treaty, some kind of collection device. Also, we had to keep in mind the Russians have spy satellites, they over fly the United States, all hours of the day. The main benefit for the United States and for Russia of the Open Skies Treaty is not really the intelligence collection, but the cooperative monitoring aspect. I was always dubious of claims that the Russians could learn stuff from this airplane based on the treaty limits that they couldn’t learn some other way.

Q: Once again, just a clarification here, you’re talking about a question, a small modification to the treaty from the point of view of the Russians. Were the people who opposed this in the U.S. government also opposed to the entire treaty? In other words, were they saying we should really just, um, give notice and leads to the treaty?

DELAWIE: It was hard for them to say that because there had already been a policy decision that we would try to keep the treaty going. Now certainly there were people that believed that in the U.S. government and some of them just thought, it’s not worth the cost, I don’t know how many millions of dollars a year to keep the plane and the crew working when they could be doing something else. But it was hard to say that because there was already a policy decision that we keep going, and therefore they had to try to find other ways of derailing the treaty. By about the time I left AVC in 2015, we did get unanimous agreement among the treaty partners, us and the Russians and the Euro’s, procedures for using a digital camera. That meant it had to be agreed in the U.S. government as well.

TABLE OF CONTENT HIGHLIGHTS

Education
BA in Economics from Harvard University
Joined the Foreign Service in 1983
Zagreb, Croatia—Deputy Chief of Mission 2004–2007
Berlin, Germany—Deputy Chief of Mission 2009–2012
Washington, D.C.—Deputy Assistant Secretary for Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance 2012–2015
Pristina, Kosovo—Ambassador 2015–2018

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The Historic Roots of China-Africa Cooperation https://adst.org/2020/05/the-historic-roots-of-china-africa-cooperation/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-historic-roots-of-china-africa-cooperation Fri, 22 May 2020 14:09:49 +0000 https://adst.org/?p=28937

The African continent is often seen as a land of paradoxes. Although it possesses many natural resources and extremely fertile land, many of its citizens remain underfed. Multiple Western development initiatives have tried to take on this challenge, but a majority of the African population still lives in poverty.

China in Africa (2014) | www.Futureatlas.com
China in Africa (2014) | www.Futureatlas.com

Because of this, a rising sentiment within the African populace has risen against Western development aid. China has been able to exploit such anti-Western leanings by implementing its own development project called “the belt and road initiative,” proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2014.

However, the growing Chinese presence in Africa is very controversial, and the real objectives of the belt and road initiative are increasingly being questioned. Some U.S. policymakers and others in academia even see the possibility of Chinese neocolonialism budding in Africa. Yet, the discussion on the role of China in Africa is not new. During the Cold War, U.S. agencies were already closely following Chinese activities in Africa, a region long considered to be strategically important to U.S. interests. It’s therefore interesting to examine how U.S. foreign policy toward China has been in the past, and how possible U.S. inaction may have led to the growing Chinese influence on the African continent.

When Foreign Service Officer Robert W. Drexler began working in the Africa and China section of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) in 1963, he quickly learned how important Africa—as well as its strategic and abundant natural resources—was to different Cold War competitors. However, the Chinese proved to be especially good at cultivating the African people. Even then, U.S. officials recognized the potential threat Chinese activity in Africa posed to U.S. interests. Robert W. Drexler, however, talks about how the U.S. interest in Chinese actions in Africa flagged rather quickly because the U.S. had other issues to worry about, such as the Vietnam war.

In this “moment” in U.S. diplomatic history, Foreign Service Officer Robert W. Drexler discusses the atmosphere surrounding Chinese relations with Africa during the Cold-war period.

Apart from working for INR, Drexler also was a political officer in Malaysia, Colombia, and Hong Kong.

Robert W. Drexler’s interview was conducted by Charles Stuart Kennedy on March 1, 1996.

Read Robert W. Drexler’s full oral history HERE.

Drafted by Sjorre Couvreur

ADST relies on the generous support of our members and readers like you. Please support our efforts to continue capturing, preserving, and sharing the experiences of America’s diplomats.

Excerpts:

“Africa loomed very important at that time, it was a cockpit of the Cold War.”

           
Forum on China Africa Cooperation (2015) | GCIS
Forum on China Africa Cooperation (2015) | GCIS

Q: One thing before we move to ACDA: Watching China in Africa during this time. There was a lot of attention in Africa at this time. These were new countries coming up, and we knew the names of Sekou Toure and Kwame Nkrumah, etc., etc. Today Africa doesn’t raise much of a blip on our radar. And China was certainly a very new player in there, as was the Soviet Union. Did you find that you were up against people who were concerned that China was going to do a lot more in Africa at that time?

DREXLER: As you say, Africa loomed very important at that time, it was a cockpit of the Cold War. Also, there was a feeling that there were places in Africa that had mineral wealth, uranium, oil, that was important to us strategically or could be very important if it fell into Communist hands. So there was a great deal of concern about that, especially after Zhou En-lai’s trip. But the Chinese also became, or tried to be, champions of the non-aligned and the Bandung movement, to which the Africans were very receptive. And it involved, of course, the exclusion of the Soviets, as well as the Americans. So it was kind of a third force, and it had great resonance in Africa at that time. And the Chinese were very good at cultivating these people. So while American officials had an exaggerated view of the potential there for China to sow trouble for us, there was certainly grounds for some concern at that time. It was not wholly exaggerated. The Chinese had a small aid program, but it was sharply focused. They had excellent language training programs. It was taken for granted that when the Chinese Ambassador stepped off the plane no matter where in Africa, he spoke the local African language. I’m not talking about French, say, but the local language very well. And also the Chinese example of Maoism appealed to the Africans in a way that Soviet Communism did not. Like the new African nations, China was a poor country, victim of colonialism, in a way, pulling itself up by its own bootstraps, fighting off imperialism, so there was real resonance.

Q: There’s a racial thing there too, because the Soviets were white and the Chinese were not white

DREXLER: When I finally got a defector — the only one I told you I can remember, from the Chinese embassy in Africa — and I went to talk to him, I asked him, “What did you feel about the Africans?” He said “We looked down on them, we despised them racially.” But he said, “Naturally, of course, this was never made apparent to the Africans, but we had the strong Chinese racial prejudice against blacks.” But what you said before is true. They were colored, and the Chinese tried to capitalize on this.

Q: Did you find that as INR was so downplaying the long-range influence of the Chinese, where there were others in the government saying you don’t understand?

DREXLER: I think not. There was very little expertise on this subject, and it was not so difficult for us to get our more moderate views accepted by officials in Washington. And the interest in the Chinese in Africa flagged rather quickly, and of course in part it was because we had other things to worry about, especially Vietnam.

TABLE OF CONTENTS HIGHLIGHTS

Education
Harvard University
Joined the Foreign Service 1956
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia—Political Officer 1961–1963
ACDA, Geneva—Counselor for arms control 1972–1975
Bogota, Colombia—Political Officer 1975–1978

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Was King Abdullah II’s Ascension to the Throne Key to the Success of USAID in Jordan? https://adst.org/2020/05/was-king-abdullah-iis-ascension-to-the-throne-key-to-the-success-of-usaid-in-jordan/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=was-king-abdullah-iis-ascension-to-the-throne-key-to-the-success-of-usaid-in-jordan Fri, 22 May 2020 14:00:29 +0000 https://adst.org/?p=28933

The 1990s were a decade marked with intensive peace negotiations between Israel and its Arab neighbors. Although many efforts stalled, there was one exception: in 1994, Jordan’s King Hussein and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin signed a treaty that ended the state of war between both countries.

i.e. Prince Abdullah with his father King Hussein (1964) Angelo Cozzi (Mondadori Publisher) | Wikimedia Commons
i.e. Prince Abdullah with his father King Hussein (1964) Angelo Cozzi (Mondadori Publisher) | Wikimedia Commons

After years of fighting, Hussein’s life-long dream became reality and the survival of Jordan as a sovereign country was secured.

Three years later, after Jamal Al Jibiri had taken up a position at the U.S. Embassy as a Foreign Service National in the Economic Growth Office in Jordan, he learned that, as part of the peace process, the U.S. government had set aside $100 million for USAID in Jordan. He—as well as Economic Growth Director Jon Lindborg—had to rethink all of the economic growth engagement in the country. First up was a project called “Access to Micro Financing Implementation and Policy Reform.” Other projects soon followed.

Al Jibiri thinks of the twelve years he spent with USAID as the most productive time of his life. He was right in the middle of an economic reform process that he felt was just incredible. To this day, many people in the implementing partner community still talk about how one of USAID’s programs in Jordan managed to go from $12 million to $53 million.

Al Jibiri claims that King Abdullah II’s ascension to the throne in 1999 had everything to do with USAID’s success. In this “Moment” in U.S. diplomatic history, Al Jibiri discusses the favorable impact of the political climate on their economic growth portfolio.

Jamal Al Jibiri’s interview was conducted by Carol Peasley on December 27, 2017.

Read Jamal Al Jibiri’s full oral history HERE.

For a Moment on one of King Abdullah II’s predecessors click HERE.

Drafted by Ianthe Van Dyck

ADST relies on the generous support of our members and readers like you. Please support our efforts to continue capturing, preserving, and sharing the experiences of America’s diplomats.

Excerpts:
“The fact that Jordan survived as a country was his biggest accomplishment.”

           
The 117 MW Tafila Wind Farm, inaugurated by Abdullah in 2014, is the largest onshore wind farm in the Middle East. (2016) Makeandtoss | Wikimedia Commons
The 117 MW Tafila Wind Farm, inaugurated by Abdullah in 2014, is the largest onshore wind farm in the Middle East. (2016) Makeandtoss | Wikimedia Commons

The Ascension of King Abdullah II:
AL JIBIRI: Just to remind you, I started with USAID in February of 1997, and I think the one event that had the greatest impact on our economic portfolio was the ascension of King Abdullah II to the throne in 1999 after his majesty King Hussein passed away. If I was to look back on those days …, I thought that King Hussein’s greatest accomplishment was the survival of Jordan as a sovereign country for as long as he did. He took over in the 1950s, and for the longest time he was operating in a neighborhood where the most powerful forces didn’t think Jordan deserved to be a country.

The fact that Jordan survived as a country was … his biggest accomplishment. He was always much more of a political animal than, say, someone who was overly concerned about the economy. I think that with the arrival of King Abdullah in 1999, he started off with an immediate focus on improving the standard of living for Jordanians. It was the core of almost everything that happened. His Majesty’s concern recognized that after a long period, the survival of Jordan seemed assured; now we need to develop economically and become self-sufficient.

“It appeared that King Abdullah had definitely understood that Jordan as it was structured historically was not going to be sustainable going forward.”

The Importance of Economic Growth:
Up until then, there were a lot of holdovers from what you can only describe as a command economy structure that evolved out of the Arab nationalism of the 1950s and 1960s, and the consequent socialist nature of most Arab economies at the time. In the 1980s, the transformation that was happening in the U.K. with Margaret Thatcher and the greater private sector focus of Ronald Reagan began to have an influence. By the 1990s, there was no question about the importance of economic growth and the importance of private sector growth and that kind of thing. That was overwhelmingly the discussion everywhere.

It appeared that King Abdullah had definitely absorbed that and understood that Jordan as it was structured historically was not going to be sustainable going forward. He basically started pushing many of the economic reform efforts, and this was right at the beginning of the U.S. government’s decision to massively increase its aid levels to Jordan. It had just started towards the end of 1997, so by the end of 1999 we had started to get used to the larger AID levels and we actually had the resources to come to the table to support the economic reforms that His Majesty King Abdullah was adamant about pushing.

An Ideal Moment:
So that was the great coincidence; it was great that it happened, and I think it brought USAID to the forefront of economic development in Jordan. It was an ideal moment. That moment has passed. The funding levels have stayed high; they’re still quite large and they’ve grown over the years, but the desire for economic reform has slowed as a result of pushback by the more traditional forces in the country. The economic reform effort has thus slowed down. For those several years, the five or six years we had sufficient resources to be able to respond to the actual desire by Jordan as a result of His Majesty’s decision to institute economic reforms in the country, was great. The greatest issue we faced was to determine the best kinds of projects to be able to respond to that demand.

TABLE OF CONTENTS HIGHLIGHTS

Education
BA in Finance and Banking, University of Tulsa 1982–1986
MA in Business Administration, University of Stirling 1992–1993
Joined USAID 1997
Abdoun Al Janoubi, Jordan—Foreign Service National 1997–2008

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Saving the Special Courts of Kosovo at Christmas https://adst.org/2020/05/saving-the-special-courts-of-kosovo-at-christmas/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=saving-the-special-courts-of-kosovo-at-christmas Tue, 19 May 2020 18:12:00 +0000 https://adst.org/?p=28919

The nation of Kosovo is one of the youngest nations in Europe. It has had to overcome ethnic tensions and political corruption to pursue a path towards becoming a developed nation.

Flag of Kosovo, Wikimedia Commons
Flag of Kosovo, Wikimedia Commons

As U.S. Ambassador to Kosovo, Greg Delawie sought to promote U.S. interests in Kosovo, which included further economic development of the country, elimination of corruption, and most importantly, recognition and upholding of human rights.

This last goal is particularly important to U.S. interests and the continuation of close U.S.-Kosovar diplomatic ties. The violent birth of the country following the Balkan conflicts and the breakup of Yugoslavia saw many war crimes committed on all sides. The Special Courts of Kosovo, also known as the Kosovo Courts, were established to help meet the U.S. goal of recognizing and establishing human rights through the prosecution of the war criminals who were responsible for committing these crimes. The court is funded by the Kosovo government, and is responsible for maintaining the court’s operation. This “Moment” in U.S. diplomatic history begins right before Christmas 2017.

Greg Delawie’s interview was conducted by Mark Tauber on February 19, 2019

Read Greg Delawie’s interview HERE.

Drafted by Ryan Jensen

ADST relies on the generous support of our members and readers like you. Please support our efforts to continue capturing, preserving, and sharing the experiences of America’s diplomats.

Excerpts:

“We started picking up hints that the assembly was going to vote on a law that would basically eviscerate the special court; but we did not know when.”

           
Department of Justice Scales of Justice, Wikimedia Commons
Department of Justice Scales of Justice, Wikimedia Commons

The Special Courts in Crisis: Another key priority that I’ve talked about was this war crimes court to deal with alleged war criminals from the Kosovo War period, 1998 to 1989. The court’s actual name is the “relocated specialist’s chambers,” but everybody in Kosovo calls it the Special Court. As I described before, the special court was something that the U.S. and EU worked together on and we persuaded the Kosovo Assembly to pass a constitutional amendment and legislation creating it. Despite being a Kosovo court, it actually sits in the Hague, so it would be harder for defendants to get to the witnesses to threaten or bribe them. Because the court was created under Kosovo law, it could be uncreated under Kosovo law as well. And there was an event.

It was the last work day before Christmas in 2017. Christmas was going to be Monday, so it was Friday, the 22nd of December. We started picking up hints that the assembly was going to vote on a law that would basically eviscerate the special court; but we did not know when. Well, it turns out it’s going to be that day. And so it is the Friday before Christmas and a bunch of the American staff had already left for the United States or for Europe, for Christmas vacation. I had given everybody who was still working the afternoon off. Then all of a sudden in the late afternoon the assembly is convening and it’s going to vote on this bill, and it will almost certainly pass.

“If I had not been a Foreign Service officer for 35 years, I might have been reluctant to call people liars to their faces; but it didn’t bother me a bit at that point.”

Taking Action: One of the political officers is still around, and a couple of local employees are still around. So we just get in the car and drive from the embassy to the assembly building and start meeting with people. I collar parliamentarians in the lobby, I barge into the office of the speaker of the assembly. I later barge into the office of the president of Kosovo and I tell them all that there will be a serious effect on our relations if they do this. I get responses from some of these people that tell me they are not involved in this effort. I tell them I don’t believe them, when they tell me that they don’t know anything about it. If I had not been a Foreign Service officer for 35 years, I might have been reluctant to call people liars to their faces; but it didn’t bother me a bit at that point. I collar the prime minister on the assembly floor, where I am not supposed to be, and tell him it’s a really bad idea.

I called the British ambassador whom I knew was in town; I tell him what’s going on. He comes down to the assembly too to join in the lobbying campaign. I tried to reach some of the other EU ambassadors, but most of them have left the country already. Journalists start collecting in the lobby of the assembly. So I decided this is time for some public diplomacy. I give remarks about the importance of the special court to the United States, that we cared about it, and that this effort to undermine it was a stab in the back to the United States. That had a big effect in Kosovo. And I said our relations will be fundamentally changed if they take this step.

Well, finally Washington wakes up at three o’clock in the afternoon Kosovo time. I call back to our deputy assistant secretary, just checking, I want to make sure I’m not off the reservation and our policy is still the same. He says, yes, we still support the special court. I say, I don’t know what I have to do, but if you tell me we support the court, and let me use my judgment about what to say publicly and privately I’d appreciate it. He says, we trust you. So those were the instructions I had from Washington: we support the special court and Delawie should figure out how to keep it.

           
Kosovo Parliament Building (2008), Wikimedia Commons
Kosovo Parliament Building (2008), Wikimedia Commons

Stopping the Bill: Then the political officer, the political LES, and I just begin meeting with people and heroically improvising. Of course we know everyone in the assembly. It turns out that there are rules that govern the Kosovo assembly; for laws to pass certain things have to happen; they have to be passed out of a committee first. You can’t just take something up on the assembly floor. So we figure that the best way is to get to the members of the right committee that would consider it as law, and try to ensure that they don’t have a quorum because they can’t make a decision if they don’t have a quorum. And ultimately we worked all the way through the evening. The political officer and the local employee are talking with people and ultimately we persuade parliamentarians that they should have other things to do rather than show up at that the meeting and there will be no quorum.

Finally, by 10 o’clock at night, the effort is dead for the night. We get together a rump team from the embassy early Saturday morning to figure out what to do next. I meet with additional people from the assembly, including parties that generally oppose things the United States wants, but who were satisfied with the special court, because they thought they knew who was going to be prosecuted. They wanted their political opponents to be prosecuted. We just kept up this effort through the weekend. And by the next business day, which was Tuesday, the effort had flopped. I went to see the prime minister again. He said, you did too good a job. So that effort died for that period and then the assembly went on winter break and the immediate risk was over.

“It was ultimately a successful effort, but it was the kind of thing where you have to rely on people that have experience, country knowledge, and people knowledge, and use these skills to achieve an American goal.”

The Importance of Experience: So it was a good example of heroic improvisation and teamwork. I didn’t come up with the no quorum idea myself. That was the political officer. We were in the hallway of the assembly building brainstorming what to do and making calls. I called the foreign minister in Africa on the phone. I used my cell phone to make a lot of démarches. Basically what we did was I talked with the political officer and the LES for two minutes, and I say, how about we say this? And they say, no, let’s try this instead. That’s how we developed the talking points, what we worked out in the hallway, the three of us. It was ultimately a successful effort, but it was the kind of thing where you have to rely on people that have experience, country knowledge, and people knowledge, and use these skills to achieve an American goal.

This is the kind of thing that the Foreign Service is good at, because we have people who have years of experience, and have developed interpersonal skills, political analysis skills, and things like that. Now, let’s transition ahead a couple of weeks; the assembly is going to meet again, and we’re trying to put a stake through the heart of this effort. Ultimately we decide that I need to give a big speech explaining why we care about the special court. It turns out we get a dozen TV cameras to film me giving this speech, which is our goal. I explained the history of the court, of American support for Kosovo, and said that we understand the war of liberation was tough. But that doesn’t mean everybody who participated in it was a good guy. Some people did bad things. And, for Kosovo’s future it is important that the people who did bad things face justice, and that the victims deserve justice. So that seems to have ended the problem. This was a terrific effort by the team of people stuck being there between Christmas and New Year’s. They achieved a key American goal.

TABLE OF CONTENT HIGHLIGHTS

Education
BA in Economics from Harvard University
Joined the Foreign Service in 1983
Zagreb, Croatia—Deputy Chief of Mission 2004-2007
Washington D.C.—Deputy Assistant Secretary for Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance 2012-2015
Pristina, Kosovo—Ambassador 2015-2018

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Economic Diplomacy and the Private Sector: Helping IBM Expand into Latin America https://adst.org/2020/05/economic-diplomacy-and-the-private-sector-helping-ibm-expand-into-latin-america/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=economic-diplomacy-and-the-private-sector-helping-ibm-expand-into-latin-america Tue, 19 May 2020 18:00:18 +0000 https://adst.org/?p=28914

In 1984 Donald Lyman left the State Department after seven years of service. Although it was a brief stint compared to many Foreign Service Officers, Lyman did not spend that time mulling around. He built relationships with prominent U.S. and foreign figures and became familiar with foreign commercial and political processes.

IBM logo (1972) IBM  | Wikimedia
IBM logo (1972) IBM | Wikimedia

This type of expertise is important. For example, if a private company wants to do business abroad, people like him can serve as key allies. As more and more private businesses try to push their production and sales internationally, they need to develop working relationships with the countries in which they want to be involved.

In the United States, it’s nothing new for private businesses to operate in foreign markets; in fact, it has been going on since the nineteenth century, if not earlier. At that time, the rapidly growing economic and industrial base combined with a U.S. foreign policy based on the expansion of commercial interests made it only natural that business leaders played a large role. This was further compounded when the U.S. dropped protectionist policies at home after World War II, allowing businesses to more easily expand their supply chains abroad.

In today’s globalized world, economic diplomacy is an essential mission for U.S. diplomats and policymakers. Today more than ever, global influence and power often rests on economic strength and integration rather than military ability. Economic diplomacy not only helps promote economic growth at home, but also strengthens the U.S. as a leading commercial partner and spreads American values. Businesses play an integral role in this mission. While diplomats can help navigate red tape, it’s often up to the private sector to negotiate directly with foreign governments.

This is where people like Donald Lyman come in. Lyman spent his entire Foreign Service career in Latin America and built important relationships with local government officials, business leaders, and U.S. embassy staff. He was hired by IBM (International Business Machines) when they were having trouble negotiating with Latin American governments. In the following excerpts, Donald Lyman details his transition from government to the private sector and the role he played in helping IBM expand into Latin America.

Donald Lyman was interviewed by Charles Stuart Kennedy on October 14, 2016.

Read Donald Lyman’s full interview HERE.

Drafted by Merrill Rabinovsky

ADST relies on the generous support of our members and readers like you. Please support our efforts to continue capturing, preserving, and sharing the experiences of America’s diplomats.

Excerpts:

“Two months later, IBM called me up for an interview, and they said they were getting more interested in Latin America”

           
Mexico City Federal District (2013) Lidia Lopez | Wikimedia
Mexico City Federal District (2013) Lidia Lopez | Wikimedia

Q: What did you want to do when you left?

LYMAN: When I left, I was torn between working in government or business—I had an offer from the Department of Commerce to be a Deputy Assistant Secretary focused on Latin America, working mainly on trade issues, and that was an attractive offer. But I was leaning towards working in business. I had done a quite a bit of economic and trade related work in Bogotá, on the desk, and in Mexico, and I liked the challenges I saw for international business working with or dealing with in Latin America.

I did find, when I started looking for jobs, that I had much to learn about the corporate world and how it worked. Ambassador Gavin suggested I meet with a friend of his, who was a very well-known headhunter, search firm guy, and a very blunt one.

….

LYMAN: So what happened was, initially—around March, April of 1984—I received a wonderful offer from a pharmaceutical company in Miami to manage their government relations in Latin America. And I already knew one person in the company from Bogotá, they’d had a good reputation, and this person was a great guy. He wasn’t in charge, but I really relished working with him. They made me a good offer, and I went and started house hunting in Miami. Took a long weekend to do it.

All of a sudden, I got a letter from them saying, “Our Latin America division has been abolished. The head of it, who made the job offer to you, has been fired. We’ll be in contact in about a year when we figure this out.”

This was the negative side of what the headhunter had told me. On the positive side, which kind of worked out in a strange way. The Ambassador had written IBM on my behalf, and IBM had written back saying, “We don’t hire people like Don. We hire
people when they get out of college and they start working in a branch in Hartford or Baltimore or Buffalo, and they work in a branch for four or five years and then they move into other jobs at IBM. We don’t hire people from outside for mid-level jobs. People start, and then they work for us for their entire careers.” It was a lifetime employment type of company, they said.

I said, “Okay, fine.” I’d wanted to work for IBM (International Business Machines) almost my whole life, because I grew up in IBM territory in the Hudson Valley, and a lot of my friends had worked for IBM. I always thought it was the kind of company I wanted to work for. But after I got that letter I forgot about it. Two months later, IBM called me up for an interview, and they said they were getting more interested in Latin America. They weren’t sure what their plans were, but they wanted an interview. I went up and did that, and again I didn’t hear anything for a month or so.

Then all of a sudden, I got a call saying, “Hey, we’re forming a new Latin America division at IBM, and we’ve been having terrible problems working with Latin American governments. Would you come up to New York tomorrow and have an interview? We’ll
also give you a physical.” A lot of companies gave employees physicals before hiring in that period. So, I figured if they were giving me a physical, they were probably pretty sure they were going to hire me.

And sure enough, I went up there, did the interview, and a week later I had a job offer. A few months later I ended up working for IBM in New York. I personally think what people do in the Department of State, whether it’s political, economic, consul, or admin
work, is tremendous preparation for business. But many businessmen didn’t realize that, and there weren’t that many people then who had come from State and made successful careers in truly a business job. There were people who’d come in to State after working as lobbyists or attorneys and resumed that work; some Ambassadors have been on boards or been consultants, but there wasn’t a long history then—which I think has changed a bit— of people going from the Department to actual business-related jobs.

IBM did get more open, mainly because they had had some very bad experiences in Latin America that showed them they didn’t have a clue how to deal with governments, and in the ‘80s, governments were highly regulating computers, pharmaceuticals, autos, and all of the other foreign-owned business in Latin America. So, around ’84, ’85, it was really important that companies deal effectively with government. I think the pharmaceuticals were the first to realize that, and IBM wasn’t too far behind.

….

“The government relations part was some of the most interesting work I’ve ever done in my life, and was very involved with the Department of State, with USTR (United States Trade Representative), with the Mexican government, the Brazilian government.”

           
ITA Logo (2007) DOC | Wikimedia
ITA Logo (2007) DOC | Wikimedia

LYMAN: So, there were a lot of great things about IBM, and I was there for 16 years. I learned an incredible amount. I started out in government relations, stayed there for about four years, and then I switched over to the business side. The government relations part was some of the most interesting work I’ve ever done in my life, and was very involved with the Department of State, with USTR (United States Trade Representative), with the Mexican government, the Brazilian government.

So, I felt like I was using my experience in a productive way. And I wasn’t using it much in term of leveraging relationships, although that’s a part of anything you do, but what I was trying to use was the knowledge I’d picked up in my years in the Department. And, I think we made some progress on some really important issues for IBM. Looking back on it years later, I’m really proud of what I did and what we did as a team. I could tell you about a couple of those issues; both of them have had articles written about them.

Q: Could you tell me them?

LYMAN: Yes. The first one that hit was just as the personal computer was just starting to take off in late 1983, ’84. Even within IBM it wasn’t used very widely, as I found when I arrived. But it was starting to take off as a business and it was going to be the future of computing. To penetrate the Mexican and Latin American markets, and to have reasonable labor costs. IBM felt that it was important to manufacture the personal computer in Latin America. They selected a site in Guadalajara, Mexico, and came up
with a seemingly attractive proposal for the Mexican government in late ’83 for creating thousands of jobs, developing Mexican suppliers, and most important perhaps, exporting thousands of these PCs (Personal Computers) from Mexico to Latin America and even to the U.S. So the proposal created jobs, raised skills, and increased exports, all desperately needed by Mexico in 1984.

Going against the backdrop of Mexico not yet agreeing to a subsidies pact, going through all the political turmoil in this period in Mexico, instead of the Mexican government going, “Great, this is what we need,” they were rather reluctant. No one at IBM could
quite figure it out, and frankly in the Embassy we had been having a little trouble figuring it out, too. But right around the time, about a few weeks before I joined IBM, they got the approval from the Mexican government, they thought.

They received a letter that sounded very positive, so the head of the Latin American division, told me as I started , “Don’t worry, Don, you won’t have to work on Mexico. We know you’ve been there three years and you probably want to get into some different
issues. We are getting the approval and it’s fine.” About a week after I joined, it was very clear that the Mexican government (GOM) wasn’t approving it. The GOM never really said why.

It took about another three or four months of conversations back and forth, and the message we finally got from the Mexican government was, “Look, we really want this. But politically, it’s kind of tough for us, because you’re an American company.” You
know the history, and as I mentioned in our other discussions, history went back to the 1840s. There was this real fear of appearing to get taken advantage of by American government, American companies, American individuals. There was a feeling that even if they knew it was a good deal, it was too risky in that it could be construed on the left as taking advantage of Mexico or being one-sided.

           
Miami downtown (2006) Derek Jensen | Wikimedia
Miami downtown (2006) Derek Jensen | Wikimedia

So, what the Mexicans finally did was, they finally said to us, “Look, you’re a very active, positive corporation. We know you do a lot of charitable activities, you do educational activities, you do a lot of human resource training and development. Why don’t you take all that you plan to do over the next two or three years, that you planned to do anyway, and put that into a proposal. And the other element we want you to put in the proposal is, we want you to put a semiconductor plant in Mexico.” The Embassy had
helped us try to understand what was going on and to tell the Mexicans privately that if they didn’t approve IBM, other potential foreign investors would be discouraged. That set off a lot of fireworks, because a semiconductor plant in those days was at least a
billion-dollar investment, and you needed a lot of high-level skills in the country to make it work properly. It just didn’t really make sense, given what IBM had elsewhere, to put that in Mexico. So, what we tried to do in IBM was take a creative look at what they asked, and this was an exciting kind of thing to do.

We took a look at Mexico, where it was in terms of development and training in the high tech sector, and said, “Where could we add to our proposal some really aggressive training programs that would help Mexico develop a competitive tech sector?”

What we came up with were three types of training. We said we’d do some semiconductor design and teach people how to do that in Mexico, we just wouldn’t manufacture semiconductors there. That at least gave them something in the semiconductor area, which was hot at the time, Intel was making buckets of money and it was something everyone wanted to be in. Second, we said we’d do was what we called a scholarship program working with Monterrey Tech, which was the best technology university in Mexico. I think it had ten or fifteen campuses and was a really fine engineering and science-focused, university. We worked with Monterrey Tech on a scholarship program where people would, while they were at school, do internships at IBM and be on a fast track to be hired by IBM. Third was a promise that if the factory was implemented, we would truly train the workers of the factory. They all wouldn’t be only assembling pieces without picking up marketable skills. There was a real effort to train the people not to be engineers but to be skilled technical workers.

And then there was also some discussion of, if it worked out, future IBM manufacturing missions could come to Mexico. So finally, I think it was probably early in ’85 or mid ’85, Mexico approved the factory. This turned out to be a real success story. Not only were most of the people who had been running IBM Mexico the past ten or fifteen years from the scholarship program, but the factory ended up being a tremendous well-rounded, effective factory that ended up with probably, at one point, I think, employing twenty thousand employees and got other missions for IBM that exported over $10 billion dollars annually all over the world.

Ten billion dollars in the late 1980s or early 90s was a lot higher share of Mexico’s exports than of course it would be today after NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement). The factory ended up with a tremendous amount of skilled factory workers.
Eventually, many years later, IBM sold the plant to a third-party manufacturer, but I think that was well after 2000, when IBM was getting out of manufacturing.

….

“So, for about two years, during late ’84, ’85, and ’86, I found government relations was busy at IBM.”

           
IBM Head Office (2014) IBM Canada | Wikimedia
IBM Head Office (2014) IBM Canada | Wikimedia

Q: Well, Brazil of course—I’ve never served there, but from all the consulates, going through this period of, “We want to produce everything in our country,” India was trying to do the same thing.

LYMAN: Yes, and Argentina was, too. Argentina was trying to have not only what we used to call performance requirements for local content if you wanted to sell in the country, but also punitive tariffs.

There were stringent price controls in some of the countries, which was difficult during times of enormous inflation. The price controls were especially tough on the pharmaceutical industry and the auto industry, but also hit high tech.

So, for about two years, during late ’84, ’85, and ’86, I found government relations was busy at IBM. In the group I managed at IBM Latin America, I had about ten people working on government issues. But I also had the feeling towards the end of that period the governments in Latin America were starting to liberalize and more free market leaders were coming in. I also felt that government relations wasn’t really where I wanted to spend my career.

I wanted to get over to the business side, so I abolished my own job and my owndepartment and I moved over to the business side of IBM, and I’ve been in business mostly in Latin America ever since.

Q: How did you find, initially, that it went developing the market in Latin America?

LYMAN: It was a good market. IBM had probably a 90% share of the mainframe margin, and that was incredibly lucrative, but, aside from regulation, the economies of the region were very volatile. In 1985 in Brazil, there was 5,000% inflation. A hotel bill
would change price every day. Restaurants had their menus written in chalk or crayon because you couldn’t have a printed menu, because you had to keep changing your prices.

So, doing business in that environment was very difficult, and IBM luckily had some brilliant financial people. They actually would make as much or more money hedging as they would on the real business. But that’s not always the greatest business model to have, because it’s risky, but also, it’s not going to continue forever. So justifying new investments was not always easy, even within IBM.

Still the potential for growth was high in Latin America. The adoption of computers lagged far behind the United. The economies continued to be very cyclical in Argentina and Brazil. Mexico had its ups and downs. In 1995, Mexico had a huge economic crisis.
That year, I went to Mexico over 40 times instead of going to Washington 40 times, because I had a Mexico-focused job.

Argentina had tremendous ups and downs politically and economically. In Colombia, the late 1980s and early 1990s were a perilous time because of narco-terrorism. Venezuela was a mass of corruption and government regulation. So, it was a super difficult environment. But if you planned for it and managed it properly, you could do well, and IBM did well.

           
São Paulo Downtown (2009) Felipe Mostarda | Wikimedia
São Paulo Downtown (2009) Felipe Mostarda | Wikimedia

IBM recognized the volatility, so the business plan each year would assume that either Argentina, Mexico, or Brazil was going to have a crisis, and then if one of them did, they would still make their business plan. If two of them did, it was going to be pretty tough. If none of them did, it would be a great year. I was really glad I learned financial planning at IBM. I spent one rotational assignment there. The next ten years were all spent on the business side, in Latin America, mostly working in the PC business, which was very different from the mainframe business.

Q: Where were you working from?

LYMAN: I spent 5 years in New York, and then I moved to Boca Raton, Florida. In New York, once I left government relations, I first did a rotational job to help me learn IBM’s business side. I spent about six months in finance, I spent six months in operations. And then I came to Boca and worked first on product management for software for the PC and then on hardware and the business side of the PC, focusing more on Latin America, on taking the products that IBM was developing and manufacturing in Boca, and developing the right products for Latin America, when we could, and marketing them properly in Latin America

TABLE OF CONTENTS HIGHLIGHTS

Education
BA, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 1967
MA in History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 1969
PhD in Diplomatic History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 1976
Entered the Foreign Service 1977
Bogotá, Colombia — Consular and Economic-Commercial rotation 1977-1979
Washington, DC —Mexico Desk Officer 1980-1981
Left Foreign Service, July, 1984
Latin American Division, IBM — government relations 1984-1999

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The Other Side of the Fence—The Spouse’s Experience of the Nairobi Bombing https://adst.org/2020/05/the-other-side-of-the-fence-the-spouses-experience-of-the-nairobi-bombing/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-other-side-of-the-fence-the-spouses-experience-of-the-nairobi-bombing Tue, 19 May 2020 17:14:16 +0000 https://adst.org/?p=28907

As Richard A. Buckley watched the uncensored footage of the remains of what was just earlier the U.S. Embassy Nairobi building, a feeling of complete despair washed over him. With limited information, all he knew at that moment was that his wife, Ambassador Prudence Bushnell, had been at the embassy that day and was either in grave danger or worse.

The U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in the aftermath of the August 7, 1998, al-Qaida suicide bombing.jpg (1998) DS Records | Wikimedia
The U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in the aftermath of the August 7, 1998, al-Qaida suicide bombing.jpg (1998) DS Records | Wikimedia

Being a spouse to a Foreign Service Officer can come with a variety of challenges and unique experiences. While Buckley knew he could handle this lifestyle, this incident in particular was nothing he had ever expected or prepared for. The terrorist bombing on the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya in 1998 left twelve Americans dead and approximately four thousand people injured, including Buckley’s wife, Ambassador Bushnell, who miraculously survived the deadly explosion. Richard A. Buckley recounts this horrific event in the perspective of not only a Foreign Service Officer spouse, but also provides us insight on the terrifying experience of almost losing a loved one.

To learn more about Ambassador Bushnell’s own experience of the Nairobi bombing, read this “Moment” HERE.

Richard A. Buckley’s interview was conducted by Charles Stuart Kennedy on April 26, 2018.
Read Richard A. Buckley’s full oral history HERE.

Ambassador Prudence Bushnell’s interview was conducted by Charles Stuart Kennedy on July 21, 2005.
Read Ambassador Prudence Bushnell’s full oral history HERE.

Drafted by: Melissa Cooper

ADST relies on the generous support of our members and readers like you. Please support our efforts to continue capturing, preserving, and sharing the experiences of America’s diplomats.

Excerpts:

“This was the first time during our life in the Foreign Service that I was concerned about Pru’s safety.”

           
The Irrepressible Prudence Bushnell | ADST.org
The Irrepressible Prudence Bushnell | ADST.org

A Bad Feeling:
Two days before the bombing, August fifth, she flew to the border of Somalia and Kenya because the problems had already started and the Somalis were trying to come into Kenya and do bad things there. There were already large refugee camps in Kenya of refugee Somalians. She went there to interact and try to persuade people that, “Maybe you ought to start asking your relatives to make a way for you to get back home.”

This was the first time during our life in the Foreign Service that I was concerned about Pru’s safety. There was something gnawing on me while she was away on the visit to the Somali refugee camp, that was the first time I ever felt that something’s going to happen.

Pru’s experience will differ a lot from mine especially since she lived through it from the beginning until we departed.

Q: Had there been any alerts or concern about this outside of the general one for the Foreign Service?

BUCKLEY: No, I knew nothing. Pru did not disclose any embassy security issue to me, I knew nothing about any security concerns.

Q: If there is a real threat the whole group would be informed, families and all.

BUCKLEY: The major threats were the violence that was happening in and around Nairobi from strikes – bank strikes and student strikes. The embassy periodically would get gassed by drifting smoke caused by police chasing the students and trying to tear-gas them. But there were never any threats although I subsequently learned that – we didn’t know at that time but Pru and the country team were aware of threats made by al-Haramain, another organization that was going to bomb the embassy. The embassy security officers provided the information to Kenyan officials and President Moi had the group removed from Kenya.

“Then I felt that this was going to be a terrible incident.”

           
(1998) Office of the Director of National Intelligence 1998 Press Releases | Wikimedia
(1998) Office of the Director of National Intelligence 1998 Press Releases | Wikimedia

An Ill-Fated Day:

On August the 7th – a Friday – I was at home, just getting ready to go to our travel agency to pick up our tickets to go on safari. My birthday was August 16th so Pru was treating me and herself to a safari in Masai Mara again for a long weekend down there. I heard the explosion, but the residence was about 10 miles from the embassy so we thought it was one of those big trucks that usually blow a tire on the road out in front of the residence. As I walked through the kitchen to get to the garage when Sela the cook said “Have you heard?”

I said, “What?”

He said, “The embassy area has been bombed.” He got the information from the guard at the gate who had a walkie-talkie—a radio-phone that all embassy personnel had—he heard some details that the embassy had been bombed and told Sela. I went back upstairs to get my telephone/radio, and started to listen to the same information, and then came downstairs and snapped on the TV and to my utter amazement, I watched the horror as it happened before Pru would even see it because she was still trying to get out of the 21st floor of the building right across from the embassy. I was watching it because the photographers at the beginning of the meeting with the minister of commerce on the 21st floor with Pru had left, and had reached their vehicles when the bomb went off. They had their equipment and what we saw then on the TV was raw footage, uncensored, right through their machines into the studio and then broadcast. It was a horrific scene.

Then I felt that this was going to be a terrible incident. For me, it’s…

Q: You didn’t know where Pru was?

BUCKLEY: I should have because Linda Howard, her office manager always sent home for me her daily schedule card. I don’t know whether I looked at it that day or knew, but I didn’t have the presence of mind to go find it. I didn’t have her schedule, no. That’s the only way I would know.

While I’m watching this on TV, I got a phone call – our local phones were still working – from our neighbor, a Lebanese woman married to a Swiss banker who lived nearby. Samira was her name, a very tall, red-headed, very striking woman who befriended us from the first day we arrived. She always befriended the American ambassador and spouse because she loved to attend our parties. She said, “Richard, have you heard, have you seen?”

I said, “I’m watching now.”

She said, “We were in the Hotel Stanley downtown when it happened! We just got home. This huge volume of smoke came from down around the embassy and then we saw all kinds of papers flying through the air, all over the streets.”

She had been only a few blocks away from the embassy.

She said, “Come over to the house, we’ve got the English channels that are giving more information than you get locally” (because locally, you’re just getting raw footage).

I took my radio from the embassy over to her house because they were getting information from London about the other bombing which we weren’t getting in Nairobi because everybody was focused on Nairobi, so they got the information about Dar Es Salaam. And also, there were reports that two other embassies may have been hit, and we subsequently learned that there were two other embassies that may have been identified to be bombed, but weren’t. One was Uganda.

So, we are getting all that information from British TV. I finally said, “Maybe I better go home.”

She said, “Wait, wait.”

Finally, Pru called me on the handheld radio/telephone and said, “Stay home! I’m all right, don’t come near the embassy” and asked me to call her father and mother. Which I did. They called the rest of the family.

That was about an hour and a half after the bombing. A lot had happened in the area of the embassy that I was totally unaware of. But I stayed with Samira and then as we arrived at the residence, we came in right behind Pru and her car – she was coming home to change and to go to the children’s hospital, which is right down the street from us, to get her lip stitched. I went inside, she said “I’m going to get a stitch and then return to the USAID building” where they had now resumed their control and command center.

Samira said, “I’ll take you there” and Pru went into Samira’s car and they went to the children’s hospital and Pru had her lip stitched and she went to the USAID building.

“I know that mine was going to be changed forever, going through the next few months living with her.”

           
August 7th Memorial Park (2010) Jorge Lascar | Flickr
August 7th Memorial Park (2010) Jorge Lascar | Flickr

The Aftermath:

Then about 10:00 that evening, Pru came home, very wiped out as you can imagine, and her hair and suit drenched in blood, most of it from other people. She had intended to take a bath, but she was so tired she just crashed with her clothes on, she just barely got her clothes off and went to sleep. It wasn’t until the next morning, Saturday, that she got into the bathtub – her hands were bandaged also – and had me shampoo her hair, because it was very mangled.

She mentioned to me that morning something to the effect that, “Richard, I think my life has changed forever because of this incident; I can feel that.” I know that mine was going to be changed forever, going through the next few months living with her.

I joined her subsequently because it was Saturday morning and I knew a lot had to be done, and I could possibly assist in some of the affairs that were going to happen. The CLO [Community Liaison Officer] was there, embassy doctor was there, and she told the CLO and me that the regional psychiatrist in Cape Town, South Africa, had called and he recommended that a critical incident stress-debriefing be held as soon as possible, for as many members of the mission that could be convinced to attend. That became my assignment. The only place to hold it was in the residence. We planned it on the weekend. On Monday we did the recruiting for people to attend the meetings. We held the debriefing sessions on Tuesday through Thursday.

Then through the CLO we matched older people like me that knew the wife or husband of the Americans that were killed in the bombing to go to their homes, to be available to assist them in any way that we could. Since I knew Michelle O’Connor very well because she was the BFO [Budget and Fiscal Officer] of the embassy and I was the accountant/auditor of the financial books, we had a lot of interaction. So, I volunteered to go to her home and meet with her husband and three kids, mostly with the husband.

I also knew Julian Bartley’s family fairly well, so I volunteered to also go to Sue’s house, Sue Bartley who lost both her husband – (Julian’s body had not been located for two days) but her son had already been identified as being one of those killed instantly inside the embassy.

I went to both of their homes. I spent a lot of time at Sue’s house, because there were a lot of people who congregated at her place since Julian was very popular in the Nairobi community.

Q: You mentioned she was BFO, that’s budget and fiscal officer.

BUCKLEY: Right. That was how we spent most of the Saturday until the following Friday.

Q: How were the people reacting, that you talked to? Were they dazed, angry?

BUCKLEY: Michelle O’Connor’s husband was wiped out. He didn’t really know what to do. Fortunately, the CLO was going to have someone come over to really take him through the steps of how to get ready to depart, who can assist him and everything. He needed basic assistance because he was relatively new to the Foreign Service way of life. Sue Bartley was a trooper. She had been to six or seven overseas postings. She still held out hope that Julian was in the hospital somewhere. She was desperately trying to not lose more than her son at that point. There were all kinds of people around assisting her, so I was just sitting there trying to assess the situation and what was happening.

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Some Like it Hot — U.S. Diplomats Negotiate Spicy Foreign Foods https://adst.org/2020/05/some-like-it-hot-u-s-diplomats-negotiate-spicy-foreign-foods/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=some-like-it-hot-u-s-diplomats-negotiate-spicy-foreign-foods Tue, 19 May 2020 16:43:14 +0000 https://adst.org/?p=28901

The chemical compound capsaicin is responsible for the spice and heat in spicy dishes. While particular plants, peppers, and vegetables evolved to produce capsaicin as a defence mechanism against hungry mammals, humans have developed a liking for the sensation that this fiery compound creates. Many cuisines across the globe use a variety of spices and blends to create the delicious dishes we know and love today.

Chili peppers from Dzoraghbyur village, Armenia (2019) Author: Narek75 |  Wikimedia Commons
Chili peppers from Dzoraghbyur village, Armenia (2019) Author: Narek75 | Wikimedia Commons

Paprika, chili peppers, cumin, coriander, garlic, and ginger are just a few of the spices and herbs that have been combined in a variety of ways to produce the most delicious curries, sauces, chilis, and soups.

Certain countries and regions have become known for their delicious and face-numbingly spicy food. Szechuan, China is known for its bold flavors, while India is renowned for its hot vegetarian dishes. It comes as no surprise that many travelers around the world make a point to try spicy local dishes whenever visiting a new country or city.

Like many travelers, as U.S. diplomats arrive at their assigned post, they are keen to try local cuisine and explore the rich culture around them. It is no surprise that several diplomats and spouses end up sampling some of the most spicy dishes in the world, and some end up “biting off” more than their taste buds can handle.

Diplomatic spouse Hazel Sokolove and diplomats Harvey Leifert and Marshall P. Adair share anecdotes about their experiences with spiced local cuisine in India, China, and Ethiopia respectively.

Read Hazel Sokolove’s, Harvey Leifert’s, and Marshall P. Adair’s full oral histories by following the links.

Drafted by Elizaveta Pinigina

ADST relies on the generous support of our members and readers like you. Please support our efforts to continue capturing, preserving, and sharing the experiences of America’s diplomats.

Excerpts:

HAZEL SOKOLOVE—Diplomatic Spouse

“Whatever it is do not eat any peppers off this table, because what they’re going to bring is the hottest thing we have.”

           
Chili pepper Fenghuang, Hunan (2019) Author:Vera & Jean-Christophe | Wikimedia Commons
Chili pepper Fenghuang, Hunan (2019) Author:Vera & Jean-Christophe | Wikimedia Commons

Peppers in India: I always remember the breakfast, it was some kind of gruel I couldn’t stand but oh, the spicy foods — I just thought they were marvelous. I’ve often said, I still say it, if I could learn to cook vegetarian food the way they cooked it, with their spices, which I use a great deal of myself, I would never eat meat again. That’s how excellent they are, those who are good cooks. However, we were not too long in Bombay. We went on to Madras, got some beautiful handicrafts …

Q: That’s where you really began eating spicy foods, wow!

SOKOLOVE: Yes. And she would warn me but I couldn’t be warned, you know, I was young and I thought, “Oh, I love spicy things,” but she had once said — when she came in Madras we were not in a private home, we were in a sort of state guest house, something like that, and we then went out by horse and buggy to a restaurant. It was big, it looked cosmopolitan to me, I was surprised to see the kind of dining room this restaurant was. And she warned me, she said, “Now, I know you like the spicy foods and I’ve ordered something for myself but remember, whatever it is do not eat any peppers off this table, because what they’re going to bring is the hottest thing we have.” I said, “All right.” She had ordered a number of small dishes, you know how Indians serve, and when they came they were delicious. Quietly I reached over and took a pepper and put it in my mouth, the jalapeno pepper. Not only could I not talk, I couldn’t breathe, it cut off my windpipe like that! The tears began to roll and I was gasping. The waiter came and they brought me lassi — of course I didn’t know what lassi was then but I realized how marvelous it is — and water, and she said, “You’re learning the hard way.” (laughter) And I really was. I never touched them again, I can tell you. And I love hot spicy food, but not that way. It was there on the trip that I have to tell you this because I’ll go back and tell you a little bit more about the things we bought and where they went. She’d taught me to eat (unable to recall the word, says it will come to her later) and that was something I wanted to carry home in my mind to Henri. We went to the outer circle of Konod, where the South Indian restaurant is and ate, and I said to him, “The first time you eat it, the perspiration will come all through your hair, down your face, but after that …” and it was true, he loved it, and we always …

………..

MARSHALL P. ADAIR—Foreign Service Officer (1972-2007)

“It’s got a very unusual spice that’s used almost nowhere else in the world that I have seen.”

Unique Spice in Sichuan: The weather is unusual because all those mountains, they trap the clouds. The Sichuan basin has a thin layer of clouds all the time and you very rarely see blue sky. It’s not dark, just hazy all the time. That also means that it is more humid and damp. That has affected agriculture and that has also affected Sichuan cuisine. One of the reasons that Sichuan’s food is so spicy is it’s designed to counteract that humid climate. And it’s got a very unusual spice that’s used almost nowhere else in the world that I have seen: the Sichuan peppercorns. These are not the little Thai spicy green peppers. These are peppercorns that grow on a tree. They have a very pungent, numbing taste and that is specifically useful for getting rid of excess moisture in the body. Everything about Sichuan is unique.

…….

HARVEY LEIFERT— Foreign Service Officer (1965-1991)

“I still would get those cravings a couple of weeks after each meal”

           
Spice in Bazaar in Istanbul (2019) Author: Miomir Magdevski | Wikimedia Commons
Spice in Bazaar in Istanbul (2019) Author: Miomir Magdevski | Wikimedia Commons

Delicious Ethiopian Cuisine with a Kick: Yeah, this was in the dark ages. But, what else I remember was my introduction to Ethiopian food. I absolutely remember the first time several of the staff took me to lunch— Ethiopian staff took me to lunch at an Ethiopian restaurant. Now, this wasn’t a real restaurant. This was in somebody’s house, a woman served lunch to people she knew, basically. And, she made the most wonderful Ethiopian food. And it was spicy. Let me tell you. They said they toned it down for me, but still it was, it was outrageously spicy. I like spicy food, but up to a point. Anyway, I did it. And after, I said to myself, okay, I’ve done my duty; I’ll never have this again. And, you know, after a week or two, I started getting a craving for it and started going to regular restaurants. There was one that was set up for tourists, especially: nice decor, food is a little more refined, but it was still quite authentic. And, I went there with some of the other staff occasionally. That was, it was wonderful, and I still would get those cravings a couple of weeks after each meal. And, after I left the post, I continued for at least a year to want to have some Ethiopian food. Not till I got back to Washington in retirement was I able to do that. And I’ll tell you, I haven’t found any restaurant here that truly reminds me of that first meal.

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The End of Omar al-Bashir—New Hope for Sudan https://adst.org/2020/04/the-end-of-omar-al-bashir-new-hope-for-sudan/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-end-of-omar-al-bashir-new-hope-for-sudan Wed, 15 Apr 2020 20:24:23 +0000 https://adst.org/?p=28560

Since becoming independent from its former colonizer, the Republic of Sudan has fluctuated between democratically elected governments and severe dictatorships. Problematic civil wars and human rights violations have plagued the country. However, since December 2018 new hope has risen within this northeast African country.

Celebrating Sudanese protesters, (2019) VOA, Wikimedia Commons
Celebrating Sudanese protesters, (2019) VOA, Wikimedia Commons

In the wake of large-scale protests which demanded his removal from power, Omar al-Bashir, the long-time dictator, was ousted by a coup d’état. Witnesses of this Sudanese revolution have claimed it is a Sudanese sequel to the Arab Spring.

When Foreign Service Officer Donald Petterson took up his duties as ambassador to Sudan in 1992, al-Bashir had been in power for less than three years. Early in his tour, Petterson understood that it would not be an easy job, as Sudan already was in a precarious state. In the first year after assuming power in a military coup, al-Bashir wasted no time in moving against potential opponents. Many people were detained, tortured, or executed. Over the years, the al-Bashir government systematically did away with democratic institutions and civil rights.

After arriving, Petterson immediately tried to put diplomatic pressure on the Sudanese government, stressing that relations would not improve if the human rights situation, the harboring of terrorists, and the restrictions on humanitarian aid did not change. Following his first interactions with al-Bashir, Petterson received positive signals from the Sudanese government, and al-Bashir even indicated that he believed relations could improve. Although the U.S. chief of protocol reacted ecstatically to the possibility of improved U.S.-Sudanese relations, Petterson was hopeful yet still had strong suspicions about the real intentions of al-Bashir. Soon after this interaction, Petterson’s fears became reality. In Juba, a large city in the far south of the country, Sudanese security forces entered the USAID compound, detained thirteen local employees, and killed four.

In this “moment” in U.S. diplomatic history, Ambassador Petterson discusses the atmosphere surrounding his arrival in Sudan and the implications for U.S.-Sudanese relations.

Apart from his ambassadorship in Sudan, Donald Petterson also held positions in Mexico, Zanzibar, Nigeria, Biafra, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Somalia, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.

Donald Petterson’s interview was conducted by Charles Stuart Kennedy on December 13, 1996

Read Donald Petterson’s full oral history HERE.

Drafted by Sjorre Couvreur

ADST relies on the generous support of our members and readers like you. Please support our efforts to continue capturing, preserving, and sharing the experiences of America’s diplomats.

Excerpts:

“When people found out I was going to be ambassador to Sudan, they didn’t know whether to congratulate me or to console me.”

           
Omar al-Bashir (2009) U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jesse B. Awalt  | DefenseImagery.mil
Omar al-Bashir (2009) U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jesse B. Awalt | DefenseImagery.mil

The Sudanese government regarded my arrival in Sudan in the summer of 1992 as an opening for improved relations. In the months and years ahead I would find that the Bashir government tended to misread certain events – like my arrival, or a visit by an official from Washington, or the election of a new U.S. president – to misread these as signs that relations between Sudan and the United States were on the verge of an upswing. On such occasions, I made it a point to caution Bashir, Turabi and others that although Washington did want better relations with Sudan, unless Sudan began to take steps to meet U.S. concerns, relations would not improve.

When I presented my credentials to Bashir, after an exchange of formal remarks, we sat down and had a frank talk. In it, I told him that relations were poor and would not get any better unless his government improved its human rights record, eased restrictions on the delivery of humanitarian aid, and stopped harboring terrorists. Bashir pretty much dismissed those concerns as baseless but indicated that he believed relations could be improved.

The chief of protocol was ecstatic afterwards, saying to me that Bashir had not before given so much time to talk to a new ambassador at a credentials presentation ceremony. I told Washington that this was well and good but that the talk with Bashir had broken no new ground. I said it indicated that the Sudanese government did not understand the depth of our differences and that they were not prepared to do anything to meet our concerns.

I made my rounds, meeting with Sudanese leaders and others, spreading the gospel, so to speak, of what was needed if relations were to improve. I said that Sudan had to stop providing refuge and support to terrorists, it had to move toward a restoration of democracy, it had to improve its abysmal human rights record, it had to stop impeding the flow of humanitarian aid to those who needed it, and it had to make a good faith effort to end the war. Despite a real desire on the part of at least some of the government’s leaders for closer ties with Washington, they were not willing to admit to any faults, much less change their policies and practices. To do so, they must have believed, would be to jeopardize their hold on political power.

Still, at that time perhaps we could have made some progress in bettering relations had there not been an incident that made things even worse.

Shortly before I arrived in Sudan, Sudanese security forces in Juba, a large city in the far south of the country, entered the USAID compound there and detained the thirteen Africans who were working there. AID had ended its operations in the South, but it had kept the compound open under the care of these thirteen employees to symbolize to the southern Sudanese that we cared about them and to indicate that we hoped to come back. At least that seemed to be the rationale. I never saw it in writing.

Q: Was it doing anything?…

PETTERSON: No. The employees were simply acting as caretakers. The regular radio transmissions from the Juba compound to Khartoum had stopped. Our AID director, Carol Becker, told me that she was deeply concerned. I took the matter up with, first, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, asking them to look into it. Nothing came of this. I went to see Nafi Ali Nafi. Nafi, who had a Ph.D. in botany from the University of California at Riverside, was a top official in the government’s security apparatus and a member of the Bashir-Turabi inner circle. He said that Andrew Tombe, the senior employee at the USAID compound, had been conspiring with the rebels and was going to be tried for treason. Worried about that, I went to other officials. I talked to a man named Ghazi
Salaheddine Atabani, who was a junior minister and very influential. A few days after we met, Ghazi told me that the employees were unharmed. Actually, as I would find out later, Andrew Tombe and three others were already dead, having been executed. We didn’t know this.

TABLE OF CONTENTS HIGHLIGHTS

Education
BA and MA from the University of California at Santa Barbara
Joined the Foreign Service 1960
Somalia – Ambassador 1978-1982
Tanzania – Ambassador 1986-1989
Zimbabwe – Ambassador 1990-1991
Sudan – Ambassador 1992-1995

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The World’s Longest Running Pandemic—Quarantine in Japan https://adst.org/2020/04/the-worlds-longest-running-pandemic-quarantine-in-japan/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-worlds-longest-running-pandemic-quarantine-in-japan Wed, 15 Apr 2020 20:12:51 +0000 https://adst.org/?p=28553

With most of us confined to our homes, jaw-dropping unemployment figures, and over 60,000 deaths worldwide as of April 2020, it seems like COVID-19 is bringing the word “pandemic” to a whole new level. For citizens of high-income countries it is a first, and most likely a once in a lifetime experience. But COVID-19 is not the only pandemic currently ongoing.

Cholera prevention poster by the Sanatory Committee (between circa 1830 and circa 1840) New York Historical Society | Wikimedia Commons
Cholera prevention poster by the Sanatory Committee (between circa 1830 and circa 1840) New York Historical Society | Wikimedia Commons

The seventh wave of the cholera pandemic started in 1961, and to this day continues to plague low-income countries. According to the World Health Organization, it is the world’s longest running pandemic.

The first six cholera pandemics occurred consecutively between 1816 and 1923. The virus struck many Asian countries, but Japan was especially affected by the third and fifth wave. During an outbreak in Tokyo in 1858, between 100,000 and 200,000 people died. Twenty years later, during the fifth pandemic, Japan lost around 90,000 civilians to the disease.

Mildred Ringwalt and her husband, former Foreign Service Officer Arthur Ringwalt, spent the summer of 1939 in the mountains of Japan. In this “Moment” in U.S. diplomacy, we learn that on their way back to post, the Ringwalts came into contact with someone who became violently ill with cholera. Given what had happened in the past, Japan chose to immediately quarantine a group of tourists, among them Mrs. Ringwalt and her five-month-old baby. When the first negotiations failed, Ringwalt herself spoke to the Japanese consul and convinced him to allow the group to leave.

Mildred Ringwalt was born Mildred Minor Teusler to American parents in Tokyo, Japan. She married her husband, Foreign Service Officer Arthur Rumney Ringwalt, in 1938, and accompanied him on his assignments in Washington, DC and abroad.

Mildred Teusler Ringwalt’s interview was conducted as a part of the Foreign Service Spouse Series.

Read Mildred Teusler Ringwalt’s full oral history HERE.

For more Moments on negotiating in the midst of a health crisis click HERE.

Drafted by Ianthe Van Dyck

ADST relies on the generous support of our members and readers like you. Please support our efforts to continue capturing, preserving, and sharing the experiences of America’s diplomats.

Excerpts:
“Someone in the milling crowd had suddenly become violently ill with cholera, and all of us were, therefore, quarantined!”

           
Disposal of the dead, under police supervision during a cholera epidemic in Japan. (Unknown) Wellcome Collection gallery | Wikimedia Commons
Disposal of the dead, under police supervision during a cholera epidemic in Japan. (Unknown) Wellcome Collection gallery | Wikimedia Commons

RINGWALT: Our second summer in Peking, cholera was epidemic, and preventive shots were given at the railroad station. Arthur applied to go to Tokyo as a courier and learned that a man had passed out the previous day on receiving his fourth injection in as many days.

No One Would Be Permitted to Leave:
Arthur and I spent our first vacation at Karuizawa in the mountains of Japan with my mother and sister who were visiting there. On our return trip, we disembarked at Tanggu, China, expecting to proceed by train to Peking with our baby. Fortunately, I went ahead of Arthur and was outside the building when we heard over the loudspeaker that no one would be permitted to leave. Someone in the milling crowd had suddenly become violently ill with cholera, and all of us were, therefore, quarantined! We were told we would have to go to a camp for observation for three weeks. I was horrified at the thought of going through such an ordeal with our five-month-old baby.

The Dreaded Disease:
When the announcement was made, there were some ten to twelve persons, mostly British, who happened to be outside the building with their friends and relatives from Tanggu who had come to welcome them back from Japan. I joined this group, and together we hired rickshaws and were taken to the British clubhouse on the outskirts of the city. I could see Arthur gesticulating to me as we took off, but I did not dare wave to him for fear of being forced to go back inside. The club was peaceful and quiet after the confusion and noise of the harbor. Best of all, there were practically no flies, where (at the station before) there had been dozens plastered on my baby’s face and hands. Every fly could be a carrier of the dreaded disease.

           
Woman with mask (Unknown) OrnaW | Pixabay
Woman with mask (Unknown) OrnaW | Pixabay

Fighting the Flies:
The group conferred together and then decided to send our most distinguished member to plead with the Japanese Consul to free those still being held in the building. That failed, and I then volunteered to try, since I was born and brought up in Japan and spoke a little of the language. As I passed the building where my husband was being held with many others, he waved to me, but I did not dare to wave back. The Consul was expecting me and politely listened as I explained how serious it was for everyone if we were not allowed to leave. I told him of the anxiety we felt if the authorities continued to hold the group in the building.

Suddenly he agreed that we could all go free, and I raced back in the rickshaw to the group at the club to tell them the good news. We had missed the train for Peking and we had to wait a long time for the next. I spent the hours fighting flies, but it was such a relief that our family was reunited that I could feel only gratitude.

TABLE OF CONTENTS HIGHLIGHTS

Married Foreign Service Officer Arthur Rumney Ringwalt in 1938
Peking, China 1938–1941
Richmond, Virginia 1941–1943
London, England 1949–1957
Kingston, Jamaica 1957–1959

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