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Elinor Constable — “If you want me out of the Foreign Service, you have to fire me”

Elinor Constable had an illustrious career in the State Department from 1955 until 1993, serving not only as Ambassador to Kenya from 1986 to 1989 but also as the first woman Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Economic Bureau and as Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Oceans, International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES). She […]


Diplomats by training, if not by disposition, are calm, level-headed types. They may be called on to deliver a harsh message about your human rights situation or those tanks amassing on the border but will do so in a polished, genteel manner. “A diplomat is someone who can tell you to go to hell in […]

Yeltsin Under Siege — The October 1993 Constitutional Crisis

For Russians, it was yet another dramatic confrontation which played out in the streets of Moscow, one which marked the growing frustration many people had with their elected President. The constitutional crisis of 1993 was a political stand-off between Russian President Boris Yeltsin and the Russian Parliament that was resolved by military force. The relations […]

Posted in A Moment in U.S. Diplomatic History, Europe, Russia/Soviet Union Tagged , |
Egos and Architecture — The Joys of Embassy Building in the 1980s

The design of U.S. embassies has swung through varying phases over the past several decades. Some embassies, such as the one in Athens, were designed by world-renowned architects like Walter Gropius. Security concerns beginning after the Embassy Beirut bombing in 1983 led to the construction of embassies with blast-proof walls and long setbacks, which were […]

Posted in A Moment in U.S. Diplomatic History, Humorous, Middle East, South Central Asia Tagged , , |
“The Worst Day” — 9/11 and the International Response

“It was the worst day we have ever seen, but it brought out the best in all of us.” –Senator John Kerry In the hours and days after the tragic attacks of September 11, 2001, nations across the world gathered in solidarity and commiseration for those who had lost their lives. The assaults on both […]

Posted in A Moment in U.S. Diplomatic History, Europe, Middle East, Military, Public Diplomacy, Terrorism, Western Hemisphere Tagged |
An Iraq War Dissent

In 2001 Ann Wright served as the first political officer in the newly reopened U.S. Embassy in Kabul. Two years later she was one of three diplomats to publicly resign from the Foreign Service due to disagreements with the Bush Administration’s foreign policy on Iraq and other issues. Prior to her resignation Wright had a […]

Posted in A Moment in U.S. Diplomatic History, Foreign Service, Human Rights, Middle East, Military, Women and Minority FSOs Tagged , |
Today in History

Find articles about diplomatic events from each day of the year Here’s a handy calendar of events linked to Moments in U.S. Diplomatic History. Remember, this is not a complete list of all Moments, only those tied to a specific date.  

Posted in A Moment in U.S. Diplomatic History Tagged , |
A Soul Filled with Shame –The Rwandan Genocide, April 7- July 18,1994

A colony of Belgium until 1962, Rwanda became dominated politically by the minority Tutsis. During the independence movement, the majority Hutus seized control of the government, killing thousands of Tutsis and forcing even more into exile. Many fled to Burundi and Uganda as refugees. Tensions between the two ethnic groups continued to fester over the […]

Posted in A Moment in U.S. Diplomatic History, Africa, Human Rights, Women and Minority FSOs Tagged , , , , |
Donn Piatt

Back to Diplomats and Diplomacy Donn Piatt: Gadfly of the Gilded Age “Told through the life of an extraordinary character, Peter Bridges’s book has given us a fascinating and carefully documented picture of nineteenth century America, warts and all. Sadly, the warts persist to this day.” THOMAS M. T. NILES, former U.S. assistant secretary of state for […]

Distinguished Service

Back to Diplomats and Diplomacy Distinguished Service: Lydia Chapin Kirk, Partner in Diplomacy, 1896–1984 When her husband, Alan Kirk, was offered the assignment of U.S. naval attaché in London in 1939, Lydia Chapin Kirk packed up her family and embarked on a lifelong journey, one in which she became a firsthand witness to the extraordinary […]