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

September 23, 2021 37 min

Nancy Ostrowski experienced the events of 9/11 first-hand, which inspired her to embark on a journey to a more satisfying, new career with USAID.  See also her article in the Sept 2021 Foreign Service Journal, "Getting Off the X", and her book, Unplugged, published under the name Nancy Whitner-Reiter.

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Consular officer Alan Eaton helped scores of Afghans at risk evacuate from Kabul, working from inside the Abbey Gate at the airport at exactly the moment when our friend Toobah was on the other side of the gate, trying to get through.  As Alan explains, "This is Jews in Germany, 1940: These people have to get out."  Some did get out, some didn't.  Alan shares these human moments.

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September 9, 2021 32 min

Eric Rubin sums it up with one word.  If we want to be successful in our diplomacy, we need to adopt a position of humility with respect to the rest of the world.

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September 7, 2021 9 min

Our friend is still there, fearing for her life.  What is going on in Afghanistan right now?  Laura shares Toobah's most recent experience as evacuations stall and no one really knows why. Pete helps us understand what it all means.  

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September 3, 2021 39 min

For Pride Month (belatedly posted due to events in Afghanistan and our coverage of those), Austin Richey-Allen recounts his story of gender transition in the Foreign Service.  A trans kid, he discovered in adulthood that there is a term for his experience: gender dysphoria.  From transition to leadership of GLIFA, Austin shares his story for the benefit not only of the LGBT, transgender and non-binary community, but for all of us w...

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August 30, 2021 29 min

Our disastrous departure from Afghanistan. Hugo Llorens shares his knowledge of the Taliban's subgroups (hint: none abide by the Geneva Convention), his perspective on US domestic politics and its impact on the human tragedy in Afghanistan, and his view on what we might have done to exit the country with a conditions-based agreement focused on preserving human lives and dignity, instead of a wholesale surrender and the carnage ...

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August 27, 2021 2 min

Wouldn't we all like to know.  She's alive, at least.  Bad luck becomes good luck as she is turned away on her way to the airport just before the bombs go off. 

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August 20, 2021 32 min

People's lives are at stake in the most urgent way.  Policy is a macro-level thing, and utterly necessary.  But what about the people themselves?  What about Toobah?  What should Biden have done?  People are hanging from the fuselage. Afghanistan, August 2021.

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August 12, 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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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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July 29, 2021 22 min

Amb. Ryan Crocker, Middle East expert, explains the value of Foreign Service Nationals and brings it all home with a story of the day that local staff saved his life. Toobah, a former employee of USAID, then tells us of her life, stuck at home in Kabul at all times because if she goes outside she will be killed in a most gruesome manner. And why? She worked. Not only that: She helped other women get jobs. Point being? They saved ou...

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July 23, 2021 30 min

HT, an Afghan interpreter who worked alongside US forces and has been denied a visa to come to the United States explains how he served, who in his family has been killed as a consequence of his service, and how difficult it is for him to find safety as the US departs his country.  Tony Wayne opens the episode, speaking from the perspective of a US diplomat.

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July 15, 2021 23 min

Consular officer Kate Canavan on the many things that can go wrong in Tijuana. Two air traffic controllers, fired for going on strike, go into (very) private industry. Pete’s words:?“Breaking Bad, in the skies.”

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July 10, 2021 22 min

Communism drives immigration decisions, 1956. Hank Cohen is in love. It’s his first tour, and he’s in Paris. The Soviets invade Hungary and Hank helps thousands of refugees flee Communist aggression and make new lives in the US. But what about heartthrob megastar Yves Montand, who is an avowed Communist?  How can Hank get him a visa? And about that girl…

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June 30, 2021 30 min

It is the 1950s. Senator Joseph McCarthy and his henchman Roy Cohn target and humiliate our diplomats for accurately reporting an eventual Mao victory in China. Jack Service and his family are at the center of the storm. How are things different today?

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June 24, 2021 32 min

A social worker by profession, Bonnie Miller traveled the world with her spouse Ambassador Tom Miller and created the first-ever course in Psychosocial Consequences of War in response to trauma she witnessed in Sarajevo. But the life changing moment came when she met victims of sexual trafficking.  And that’s when Bonnie Miller really got started.  

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June 16, 2021 32 min

Trick Question: What happened in Yalta in 1945?  Probably more than you think!  And why did those proceedings hold up the confirmation of Ambassador Avis Bohlen's father Charles Bohlen as Ambassador to the Soviet Union?  Plus: Are things better in American politics today than during the McCarthy era, or worse?For the full story, see Avis's article in the May 2021 Foreign Service Journal, or this link: https://afsa.org/victo...

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June 11, 2021 32 min

Pete sends Phil Chicola to guerrilla country to investigate the deaths of American linguist missionaries, and both Pete and Phil are accused of negotiating with the FARC. All of this concurrent with the Clinton impeachment, and as Pete explains, it got ugly. Especially with Baby Huey.  

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June 4, 2021 27 min

Phil Shull is back, this time connecting our earlier discussion of Chinese culture to practical business and policy challenges faced by Westerners doing business in that country.

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May 28, 2021 55 min

Why does the West find China so confounding in matters of business and diplomacy? Phil Shull, retired Foreign Agricultural Service officer, explains: China's culture and history may be best understood by its written character for "population", which is comprised of symbols for "person" and "mouth".  Chinese don't ask, "How's it going?" but instead, "Have you eaten today?" For more...

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