American Diplomacy

Foreign Service
Summer 2018


Joining the Foreign Service

Over the years, some of our contirubutors have shared the story of how they joined the Foreign Service, and their early assignments.

Tell Me, Miss… by Elizabeth Krijgsman

Just Part of the Job by J. Edgar Williams

The Token Hillbilly by J. R. Bullington

Then, Now, and In-between by Renee Earle

The Fateful Voyage of the Albatross by Roy M. Melbourne

More stories from early foreign service experiences

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Diplomats Who Are Authors

BookCoverfrom Peace Works by Rick Barton

The doctor wanted to save lives, but not this way. Only in his mid-30s, the Syrian's sensitive face bore the fatigue, sadness, and worries of war. He saw little reason for hope. Tears streamed down his cheeks as he spoke of his inability to take care of the children. "I cannot even find the simplest medicine. Illnesses that I could once treat within minutes are now a chronic problem."

Winds of Change
Chapter 6 of The Atlanticists:
A Story of American Diplomacy

by Ken Weisbrode

…by the time he was "drafted" to the presidency, Dwight Eisenhower was far more surefooted than Harry Truman ever could have hoped to be in 1945. He was also a good deal more devious. In crafting his so-called hidden hand presidency, Eisenhower almost always let others take the credit, and the blame, for the administration's actions. The histrionic Dulles was practically typecast for the part of foreign policy guru; yet there is little sign that he ever let himself forget who was in charge. This put the State Department in an odd position. The bureaus were consulted far less than they had been under Acheson; often they claimed to be embarrassed by Dulles's speeches and his obsequiousness toward members of Congress. Their interactions with the hatchet men of the front office—hired to appease Senator McCarthy and his backers—were unpleasant, to put it mildly. Yet with regard to Europe, the advent of Dulles did not present an altogether unhappy prospect.

2017 Into the Dark Soil from She Receives the Night
by Robert Earle

2017 Warm Beer and Green Wine from Behind the 7th Veil
by Barry Fulton

2017 Two Pumps for the Body Man, Chapter 11
by B.A.

2015 Chapter 17: At Sea
by Bruce Byers

2014 After Apple Picking/
by Robert Earle

2014 Cacao cum Cocoa
by Mark Wentling

2014 The American Mission
by Matthew Palmer

2014 Flame
by Barry Fulton

2013 Cosa Buena
by Robert Earle

2013 Farishta
by Patricia McArdle

2013 Savarona
by J. Patrick

2013 The Ambassador to Everland
by Howard Cincottta

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Eyewitness: Foreign Service Stories

James and the Moscow Goons
by Peter Bridges

Of course the KGB was not supposed to touch foreign diplomats, given our diplomatic immunity. Still they did so, on occasion. Two of our military attachés visited Odessa and woke up in their hotel room late in the morning, realizing that they had been gassed and their belongings had been ransacked. Sometime after I left Moscow we opened a consulate general in what was then Leningrad. Early one morning our consul general went out on his usual run, and was joined by two hefty fellow runners who jogged alongside him for a bit and then knocked him into a wall, fracturing his shoulder. The consul general was Jewish. This was the KGB's delicate way of warning us to stop looking into the plight of Soviet Jews.

Tell Me, Miss…
by Elizabeth Krijgsman

…I sulked for a while. Then I realized that becoming a Foreign Service Officer might have even more of what I was looking for in a career: I would travel less, but I would live in beautiful foreign capitals. I would be important and respected. The pay would be better. There would be better opportunities for advancement. I would have a diplomatic passport, and a car with diplomatic plates.

From the National Archives
"We Found Ourselves Living in the Midst of a Battlefield"
The Experiences of the U.S. Consulate General in Warsaw on the Outbreak of World War II September 1939
by David A. Langbart

…Commencing with September 1st, the city was subjected to daily bombings from the air. At first these were confined to bridges, railway freight yards, factories and similar objectives. Later, however, various parts of the city were subjected to air attacks and it was difficult to determine exactly what objectives were being sought. The air raiding became steadily more intense and the raids were so numerous that all count was lost of them. On some days there were as many as nine raids, some seemingly made by 60 or 70 planes. On the roof of the chancery were painted two large American flags and a large bunting flag was also placed there and, whether for this or some other reason only one air bomb fell close to it, and this fortunately did not explode. One air bomb also fell in the garden of the Ambassador's residence, but this likewise did not explode. Commencing about September 9th, the city was subjected to a much more nerve-wracking and serious danger in the form of shelling by field guns of varying sizes. Several shells exploded in the rooms of the Consulate General, doing very serious damage, and the building was struck in many other places. The building immediately south of the chancery, and which physically touched it, was directly struck by five shells, fragments of which hit the chancery in many places and the concussion of which shattered all of the glass in the front part of the chancery building.

Cold War Humor, 1953 by David Langbart

What Goes Up Must Come Down: Dealing With the International Aspects of the Demise of SKYLAB, Part I by David Langbart


Foreign Service Accounts from the Oral History Archives (ADST.ORG)
In this issue, we present another installment of U.S. international development stories.

The Economic Cooperation Act, better known as the Marshall Plan, was signed into law on April 3, 1948, 70 years ago. The act resulted from close cooperation between the Democratic Truman Administration and the Republican-led Congress. Under the Marshall Plan, between 1948 and 1951, the United States provided $13.3 billion ($150 billion in 2017 dollars) in assistance to 16 European countries. Follow the accounts of U.S. diplomats Jacob J. Kaplan, Thomas Wilson, Herman Kleine, William Parks, John Gunther Dean, and Everett Bellows, who worked to carry it out.

John Gunther Dean: "We Were Building a New World."


Carol A Peasley
Peasley recounts USAID's early work in Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union to build a market economy and new civil society, including with Vladimir Putin, Yegor Gaidar, and Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
Interview covers: Moving with a military family; University of California, Santa Barbara; Sussex University in Britain; Nepal; Latin America; Thailand; Africa; Russia; interagency cooperation; women in the Foreign Service
"… he (Ambassador James Collins after Vladimir Putin's first inauguration in 2000) also added that no one knew how Russia’s political transition would turn out, but he was confident that Russia could never be closed down and isolated as it had been during the Soviet period. Russian people had already been exposed to much to the rest of the world; it could never be closed down again. I try to remember that when I look at the Russia of today."



William Stacey Rhodes
Interview covers: Occidental College, Johns Hopkins, long-term training: Terry Sanford School Duke University, Central America, Haiti, Morocco, Nepal, South Africa, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), Peace Corps
"Finally, to get into the morality—or even 'metaphysics'—of it all, for just a final minute; Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday was yesterday. He gave many great speeches, but in one he says—if I can paraphrase it—something like, "The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice." But he and others have pointed out that it doesn't bend by itself. …It only bends from people who go out 'into the arena', and actually fight for what they believe is right. People have to bend it! We have had the chance to do that in our own American way, and to help those in poorer and tougher places to make great strides for themselves and their countrymen."

Julius E. Coles
Interview covers: Morehead College, Princeton, Peace Corps, Vietnam, Morocco, Liberia, Nepal, Swaziland, Senegal, Howard University Ralph Bunche Center, Africare
"Yes I think there is what they call donor fatigue in some countries, in some parts of the world. I think given the problems and the magnitude of the problems in the African continent, [and that is] to say that you have donor fatigue is to give up on 800 million people. I don't think the world can do that."


Previous items

Carol A. Peasley   ADST 4/2018
James and the Moscow Goons   Bridges, Peter 4/2018
Tell Me, Miss   Krijgsman, Elizabeth 4/2018
The Economic Cooperation Act   ADST 4/2018
We Found Ourselves Living in the Midst of a Battlefield: The Experiences of the U.S. Consulate General in Warsaw on the Outbreak of World War II September 1939   Langbart, David A. 4/2018
Winds of Change   Weisbrode, Ken 2/2018
Eyewitness: John D. Negroponte   Foreign Affairs Oral History Project 12/2017
Into the Dark Soil from She Receives the Night   Earle, Robert 12/2017
Moment of Truth: Ch 17 of Cotton Fields to Summits   Kennedy, George 12/2017
Unlce Sam, Matchmaker   East, B.A. 12/2017
Warm Beer and Green Wine from Behind the 7th Veil   Fulton, Barry 12/2017
Angola - an ambassador's daily diary   Pinto da France, Antonio 10/2017
Eyewitness: John Whitehead   Foreign Affairs Oral History Project 10/2017
Eyewitness: John Gunther Dean   Foreign Affairs Oral History Project 6/2017
Eyewitness: Marc Grossman   Foreign Affairs Oral History Project 6/2017
Eyewitness: Stephen F. Dachi   Foreign Affairs Oral History Project 6/2017
Hipster Hamburger Heaven   Dorschner, Jon P. 6/2017
John Lothrop Motley: The Fall from Grace   Sommers, William 6/2017
Skegness is So Bracing   Baker, Robert 6/2017
Two Pumps for the Body Man, Chapter 11   East, B.A. 6/2017
Applying Diplomacy   Harrop, William C. 3/2017
Cuban Missiles and Operation Dragon Rouge   Baker, Robert 3/2017
Eyewitness: Paul Jerry Bremer   Foreign Affairs Oral History Project 3/2017
John Lothrop Motley: The Witty US Minister to Vienna   Sommers, William 3/2017
Presenting Credentials in Tonga   Hall, Vance and Julia 3/2017
A US Citizen by Surprise   Kunsman, June 1/2017
Dead Cow Road - Life on the Front Lines of an International Crisis   Wentling, Mark 1/2017
Eyewitness: Amb. Avis Thayer Bohlen   Foreign Affairs Oral History Project 1/2017
How the Presidential Transition Process Works   Cotter, Michael W. 1/2017
Moon Rocks at Home   Baker, Robert 1/2017

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