UA-34158173-1 Poor Richard’s Podcast: Tales of American Diplomacy
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Distinguished American diplomat Tex Harris recounts attempted intimidation by Argentine security forces in 1977, at the height of that country’s “Dirty War.” From the series "Tales of American Diplomacy" by the Association for Diplomatic Studies & Training. Because diplomacy matters now more than ever.



Women have been a fundamental part of the Foreign Service in both visible and invisible ways since its founding, making countless contributions.  These are the stories of trailblazing women in the Foreign Service and how they paved the way for the present.




 Brunei, one of the smallest, yet richest states in the world, is located on the island of Borneo, in the Indonesian archipelago.  Fewer than 500,000 people  live within its 22,00 square miles.  A new constitution in 1959 declared Brunei a self-governing state, while entrusting conduct of its foreign affairs to the United Kingdom.  Until 1994, when it asserted full independence.  Learn more about this modern-day sultanate.


Nixon's "jowls were wobbling in anger" when a young foreign service officer, during Nixon's historic 1972 visit to China, saved the President from embarrassment by refusing to interpret. Here is the story.


In a one-on-one meeting in 1989, future South African President F.W. DeKlerk told Hank Cohen, America's senior diplomat for Africa, that if elected he would free Mandela, un-ban the ANC, and end apartheid.  DeKlerk delivered.  Here is that story.


In 1980, James Larocco was a young American diplomat in Egypt--and a new father. His newborn daughter needed urgent medical treatment in Israel. The American ambassador told Larocco “Egyptian President Anwar Sadat called Israel’s Menachim Begin and they agreed that you will be the first family to drive from Cairo to Jerusalem.” Here is that story.


As American ambassador to poor, socialist Guinea from 1975-77, William Harrop used a $25,000 discretionary fund and lots of soccer balls to promote goodwill. From the series "Tales of American Diplomacy" by the Association for Diplomatic Studies & Training. Because diplomacy matters now more than ever.



The bombing of the US Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, on April 18, 1983, killed 63 people, including 17 Americans.  Newly-arrived USAID employee Letitia "Tish" Butler survived the bombing. This is her story.

USAID unearthed a major corruption scandal in Russia in the late 1990s involving Harvard University’s Institute for International Development.  Dr. Janet Ballantyne, USAID’s mission director, blew the whistle. In her oral history, Ballantyne discusses the consternation this caused with U.S. Embassy leadership, and the repercussions of her reporting on relationships with key Russian officials.

Throughout the 1990s, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the United States and Russia worked together to implement privatization and other economic reforms. USAID funded the Harvard Institute for International Development (HIID) to help design and implement major economic reforms in the country, including privatization and market reforms.  In 1997, however, HIID contractors were found to be using their access to insider information for their own benefit. Harvard later settled with the U.S. government in 2005 and paid what is believed to be the largest settlement ever by a university in a case of this type.


The Helsinki Final Act, an agreement signed by 35 nations at the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) on August 1, 1975, addressed a spectrum of global problems and had a lasting impact on U.S.-Soviet relations. The Helsinki Final Act dealt with a variety of issues divided into four “baskets.” The first basket dealt with political and military issues, the second economic issues, trade and scientific cooperation. The third basket emphasized human rights, and the fourth formalized procedures for implementing the agreements.

The multilateral negotiations were stressful and demanding. In this case, one means of reaching decisions on the four baskets came in the form of basketball. But just as in the case of diplomacy, in basketball you can run across “ringers”  – people whose abilities may not be readily apparent. Not everyone knew that Soumi – Finland – had its share of athletic diplomats who could make a lay up. Jonathan Greenwald, who served as the Legal Advisor to the U.S. Mission in West Berlin from 1973-1977, highlighted the role that basketball played in bringing together different delegations during the negotiating process of the Helsinki Final Act, in an interview with Raymond Ewing in March 1998.

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