American Diplomat

American Diplomat

American Diplomat goes behind the scenes to hear real stories from diplomats who lived newsworthy events overseas. Experience the Cuban revolution, Central American insurgencies, the end of apartheid and more through the eyes of those who were there. A project of the Una Chapman Cox Foundation in partnership with the American Academy of Diplomacy.

Episodes

April 15, 2021 52 min

Ambassador Jim Gadsen and mid-career officer Paloma Gonzalez share their stories of diversity and inclusion, one a Black man whose career was launched in part by the Civil Rights Movement, the other a Latina whose parents came to the US to be where the Civil Rights Movement was changing lives. In the end, though, is diversity of skin color among officers only as important as the diversity in thinking and experience that it creates?

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It's 5:30am, and Kala Bokelman of the Diplomatic Security Service is one of many staking out a professional photographer named Solano's house on a skinny on a dead-end street in Costa Rica. Together with Costa Rican security, the DSS helps bust a child pornography ring resulting in 757 years in prison (that's right, 757) for the perpetrators.  

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March 31, 2021 27 min

Party at Carla's house!  Kala Bokelman, diplomatic security special agent, tells of a raid on a house straddling the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border.  The goal?  To stop coyotes smuggling people from Cuba to the US via Ecuador and every state in between.  The problem?  Her jurisdiction ends in Carla's back yard.

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As a diplomat of color, how did the murder of George Floyd inspire Christian Loubeau, Security Council negotiator for the United States mission to the United Nations, to create change at USUN? And, how exactly do you conduct multilateral negotiation on behalf of the US?

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March 18, 2021 18 min

Andrew Shinn onboards as a new Foreign Service Officer during the pandemic.  But what is he onboarding to?  There's no place to go, and even State doesn't really know what to do with these newbies.  Do you swear in wearing your underwear?

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We all know the importance of Nelson Mandela, but great as he was, he did not work alone. Each of these figures brought their motives and personalities to shape South Africa's transition from apartheid to the present. John Campbell, political counselor in Johannesburg during the collapse of apartheid, shares the human perspective on these powerful world events.  Everyone in the country wanted a change to democracy, from right-w...

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March 4, 2021 35 min

It all began with a call from the police. Andrew Byrley, a young officer and former robotics expert, shares tales of a harrowing month assisting Americans in crisis in Belize. What can, what cannot, and what must the American consulate do for you in a foreign country?  

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February 25, 2021 50 min

The Arab Spring - Tunisia, Egypt - we know about these places. But Bahrain is almost never in the news.  What is its geopolitical significance, and strategic importance to the US?  And why was Ambassador Tom Krajeski in a tight spot when the Arab Spring came to Bahrain?  Can we walk and chew gum at the same time?

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February 18, 2021 46 min

"But we're Americans. We don't lose wars."  False!  Ambassador and former National Security Advisor Tony Lake takes a hard look at American leadership in the world from Kennedy until the present time, when like so many countries, our democracy needs shoring up as well.  For more about Tony Lake, see this article in the Foreign Service Journal.

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February 12, 2021 37 min

Like Chicago mobsters, hard line parties grab to divvy up the riches after the genocide in Bosnia has stopped. Ambassador Tom Miller, together with the British ambassador, organizes "secret dinners" that lead to a peaceable coalition of factions that brings stability and to great surprise wins the election 2000.  But after the noxious blue smoke clears, then what?

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February 4, 2021 40 min

Or a traitor, anyway.  In an eerily quiet region during the Vietnam war, from a banana grove in the middle of the night, Lionel Rosenblatt discovers that a US military official is guilty of supplying the enemy with life-saving medicine from the United States.  Lionel is saved from a murderous reprisal through the assistance of his friends, the Vietnamese mountain people.  

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February 1, 2021 22 min

Again in honor both of Black History Month and Linda Thomas-Greenfield's recent appointment as US ambassador to the United Nations, we repost our second chat with Linda from last summer: April 7, 1994, Rwanda. Not a good day to be mistaken for the acting Prime Minister. Linda Thomas-Greenfield shares the tale of her escape from the anti-government militia, while millions of others perished in the country’s genocide.

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January 27, 2021 33 min

Mohammed Bouazizi, an underemployed fruit seller, sets himself on fire, launching what we later began calling the Arab Spring.  Ambassador Gordon Gray walks us through life on the ground in Tunisia, when things in the Arab world began to change.  Plus, read Gray's article in the Foreign Service journal for greater insight, at this link: https://www.afsa.org/sites/default/files/flipping_book/010221/41/

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January 25, 2021 18 min

In honor of upcoming Black History Month, and in honor of the new administration, we repost our first episode with Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Biden's new Ambassador to the UN.  Go, Linda!  Here's the episode: “I respect your culture, but I do not believe it is your culture to allow women to die,” says Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield to the Taliban. And do you know what the Taliban did after that? And why? Listen to find ou...

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January 21, 2021 44 min

Dan Kurtzer, Ambassador to both Egypt and Israel, parses this complex part of the world from his experience on the ground. Why was Anwar Sadat killed? What social forces produced the revolution of February 2011? And how is the average Egyptian living now? Better or worse than before?  

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January 14, 2021 30 min

The worst of the worst: Victor Bout, Russian arms dealer, is not the only one. A a host of other nogoodnicks invest their nefarious proceeds in American cities such as Louisville, Dallas, Cleveland, unbeknownst to city officials. These criminals receive real estate tax breaks but never pay tax, drive up market prices, destroy jobs, and are never held accountable for any of their crimes because American laws have not, up to now, req...

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January 7, 2021 31 min

What exactly is dirty money, and how is it laundered?  How much of it flows through the world, and the United States in particular?  And how does it impact regular Americans going about our daily lives?  Kathleen Doherty, aka "the Dirty Money Tracker", shares her expertise.  

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December 31, 2020 47 min

For some even better discussion with Gina, here's our second of two with her:  Religious police stop Gina and terrorists attack the consulate general in Jeddah.  See you next week with new original content.  Happy New Year!

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Bet you haven't heard this one!  We recorded this story when we began the show a few years ago and no one knew about us yet. Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley regales, in her first of two episodes. Do you know where to find a hooker in Oman?  And what happens when your boss nixes your husband’s job choice in Saudi Arabia, but you really would like to stay married?   

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December 17, 2020 32 min

Pete visits the Huarani Indians, botches up a boar hunt, drinks the mystery drink chicha, and receives upon his departure a marriage proposal, ambiguously addressed either to himself one of the other fine young gringos. Follows first episode, titled “Cowboys and Indian at the Embassy.”  New photos of this wild ride are now available at www.amdipstories.org.  Enjoy!

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