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American Diplomacy
   Insight and Analysis from Foreign Affairs Practitioners and Scholars   •   Online since 1996   •   Editor: Beatrice Camp

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President Kennedy meeting the first group of Peace Corps Volunteers. Photo credit to Cecil Stoughton, White House.

After their Peace Corps service, many volunteers go on to international careers. Although State does not track former PCVs in the department, an average of 5% of new Foreign Service Officers in the last four entering classes reported Peace Corps experience and more than 60 former volunteers have served as U.S. ambassadors. For USAID, a 2015 report to Congress pegs the percentage of former volunteers or staff in the agency at 28%.


Focus on Peace Corps and Diplomatic Careers

How I invented the Peace Corps (Sort of) by Gerald Kamens

How the Peace Corps Transformed the Foreign Service by John Coyne

Joining the Foreign Service: the Experiences of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers by John Coyne

First Ambassador with Peace Corps Experience: Parker Borg by John Coyne

Responding to the Call for Volunteers "From Every Race and Walk of Life" by John Coyne

US Ambassadors who Served in the Peace Corps

Commentary & Analysis

Groping in the Dark: Turbulent Atlantic Waters by Robert Cox

The Peacekeeping Dilemma by Roger Meece

Pioneering an International Urban Development Program —A Frontline Snapshot of USAID History by Dr. Eric Chetwynd, Jr.

Leveraging Diplomacy for Managing Scientific Challenges: An Opportunity to Navigate the Future of Science by David Hajjar and Steve Greenbaum

Operational Public Diplomacy: the New and Enduring by Don Bishop

Student Corner
Refugee Integration in Berlin—Lessons for the U.S. by Liliana Martinez, Brittany Aldredge, and Maen Hammad

Eyewitness: Foreign Service Stories

Getting to Know Jane Goodall by Ralph Bresler

From the National Archives
The Presidential Election of 1972: Analysis of Soviet Bloc Opinion

Foreign Service Accounts from the Oral History Archives (ADST.ORG)
August marks the 30th anniversary of the Burmese student pro-democracy demonstrations that began on "8/8/88”. The U.S. subsequently withdrew its ambassador in protest of the military regime, beginning a hiatus in relations that lasted until 2012.

Frank Huffman, who was Assistant Public Affairs Officer in Rangoon, described the demonstrations in pages 43-44 of his ADST oral history, noting that "More people were killed that day than were killed in Tiananmen Square in Beijing a year later, but for some reason the world didn't pay much attention."

Vic Tomseth, then Director of the Office of Thai and Burma Affairs, wrote about the effects of the military crackdown on the embassy and the bilateral relationship in his ADST account: "…when the military cracked down on the pro-democracy movement in September of 1988, the trauma that the embassy staff experienced was very profound. I like to compare it to what happened in Teheran in February of 1979 when the embassy was attacked by several armed groups with some casualties."

See also ADST accounts for two Foreign Service stalwarts who passed away recently: Ambassador Princeton Lyman on August 24 and Ambassador Darryl Johnson on June 24.

Fall 2018

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Featured Reviews


by Madeleine Albright

Review by Gil Donahue


Peace Works
by Rick Barton

Review by Jim Bullington


The Forgotten Flight
by Stuart Newberger

Review by Ted McNamara

Diplomats Who Are Authors
Excerpts from books.

BookCoverBook excerpt from Our Woman in Havana: A Diplomat's Chronicle of America's Long Struggle with Castro's Cuba by Vicki Huddleston

On the day before the speech I decided that I would rather stay in Havana. I called the director of the Cuba office at the State Department and asked to be excused from attending. I didn't want to be present if Bush was going to announce a punitive policy. Nor did I want to return to Cuba draped in hostile rhetoric designed for the consumption of the Cuban diaspora.

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American Diplomacy is published in cooperation with the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill's College of Arts and Sciences
and its Curriculum in Peace, War and Defense and with the Triangle Institute for Security Studies.