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After nearly 50 years of brutal apartheid in South Africa, it is almost impossible to imagine how people could coexist peacefully. However, the new, post-apartheid government demonstrated the power of reconciliation, which eventually served as a blueprint for similar initiatives throughout the world.

Apartheid, the racial segregation system in South Africa, lasted from 1948 to 1994. During this time, black individuals in South Africa were deprived of citizenship and virtually every aspect of life in South Africa was segregated by race including education, neighborhoods, medical care, and public spaces.

As a way to heal the deep wounds among people, the new Government of National Unity in 1995 established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which invited perpetrators of violence to speak about their past transgressions. The idea was that if people spoke to one another as fellow human beings, it would provide an opportunity to heal and forgive and thereby allow reconciliation to occur. The TRC lasted until 2002 and, despite some flaws, was widely viewed as a success and served as a model for similar systems around the world in post-conflict communities.

In one famous case, American Fulbright Scholar and anti-apartheid activist Amy Biehl was brutally stabbed to death by four black men in 1993 while driving in Cape Town. The four were convicted of murder but were eventually released as part of the TRC process. Biehl’s parents not only forgave her murderers, they established the Amy Biehl Foundation Trust, an organization that leads community programs designed to prevent future violence in Cape Town.

Monica Joyi worked for the TRC Media Office from 1996-1997 during its inaugural years. In her interview with Dan Whitman in 2009, she talks about her job at the TRC in 1996, her reflections on the Amy Biehl incident, and what it was like to work for a leader of the TRC, the “Arch”, Nobel Peace Prize Winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

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How to commemorate an important anniversary of the country in which you’re posted when it marks a low point in the bilateral relationship? World War II came to an end when Imperial Japan announced its surrender on August 15, 1945; officials from its government signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender on September 2 aboard the USS Missouri. It was the end of a series of losses for Japan, including the detonation of an atomic bomb over Hiroshima on August 6, the declaration of war on Japan by the Soviet Union on August 8, and the launch of a second bomb on Nagasaki by the U.S. on August 9.

Fifty years later, American diplomats in Japan struggled with acknowledging the events of that fateful year in a way that would strengthen ties with an enemy-turned-ally yet not minimize the sacrifices of Americans who fought in the war.

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In the late 1970s, the USSR had been supporting the Afghan government in its fight against rebels, who had made considerable inroads and controlled territory outside Afghanistan’s major cities. Determined to squash a growing threat, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan on December 24, 1979. Soviet troops and swarms of helicopters overthrew the government, which Moscow believed had contributed to the instability, and installed a pro-Soviet government, forcing millions of Afghanis into refugee camps in neighboring Pakistan and Syria.

However, the Soviet military faced significant resistance from a group of highly motivated fighters called the mujahedeen, literally “one engaged in Jihad.” The Islamic fighters fought the Soviets aggressively and attracted the attention of the United States, most famously Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson, whose work on the issue became the subject of the book and movie Charlie Wilson’s War. Most famously, he successfully fought to give the mujahedeen Stinger surface-to-air missiles, which proved to be very effective against Soviet helicopters. The Soviets eventually withdrew their forces from Afghanistan in 1989, in what has widely been deemed “Russia’s Vietnam.”

Alan Eastham was the Principal Officer at the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar from 1984-1987, and discusses his time in Pakistan during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.  He was interviewed by Charles Stuart Kennedy beginning in July 2010.

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In the late 1960’s, the United States had become polarized by the Vietnam War, as even many defenders were beginning to question the goals and tactics of the military. One such person was William Watts, who at the time had been promoted to the position of White House Staff Secretary for the National Security Council under President Richard Nixon in 1969. As such, he worked closely with Henry Kissinger, who at the time was National Security Advisor, as well as prominent people from the Nixon White House, such as H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman. Bureaucratic tensions were often high and interpersonal skills were often lacking, which not surprisingly led to bitter infighting and nasty confrontations over policy. U.S. policies on Vietnam and the planning over the invasion of Cambodia, which took place from April-July 1970 were strongly opposed by Watts, which left him an outsider. Watts resigned from the NSC in 1970 after a fiery exchange with Alexander Haig, then Nixon’s White House Chief of Staff.     

In an interview with Charles Stuart Kennedy beginning in August 1995, Watts recalls his experiences working personally with Kissinger and Nixon, the nasty atmosphere that permeated the NSC at the time, and his heated resignation as Staff Secretary after questioning the morality of the very policies he was helping to implement.

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As long as there are vast economic disparities between countries, there will be people desperate (and unscrupulous) enough to do whatever it takes, including fraud and false marriages, to try to immigrate. Before its economic takeoff, South Korea in the 1970s and 80s was a major source of visa fraud and so-called GI brides, women who looked to escape the country by marrying a U.S. soldier stationed there. Others were “sold” by their families and others to soldiers to take them to the U.S. and were later forced into prostitution to pay off their debts when they landed on American soil. It is estimated that between 90,000 and 100,000 Korean women immigrated to the U.S. between 1950 and 1989 as GI brides.

ADST’s own Charles Stuart Kennedy was a career FSO who spent an extensive amount of time in Vietnam and South Korea and, as Consul General in Seoul, had first-hand experience of the extensive fraud that existed. Andrew Antippas was in the U.S. Army during the Korean War and ultimately joined the Foreign Service, where he was posted in South Korea, Japan, Cambodia and Vietnam; he discusses his attempts to address the issue of GI brides and his frustration when his efforts were thwarted.

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Persecution of the Kurds

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The Kurds have had a long and troubled history in Iraq. Under Saddam Hussein tens of thousands of Kurds were massacred and their villages destroyed during Iraq’s war with Iran in the 1980s. In the aftermath of the 1990-91 Gulf War, the Kurds, staged an uprising against Saddam and fought to gain autonomy over the Kurdish-dominated region of northern Iraq. However, Iraqi troops  recaptured the Kurdish areas and hundreds of thousands of Kurds fled to the borders. A “safe haven” was then established by the UN Security Council to protect the Kurdish population.

Peter Galbraith was a professional staff member for the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations at the time and in March-April of 1991 he traveled to northern Iraq to conduct a study on the status of the Kurds. While in Iraq Galbraith discovered what was at the time the largest collection of documents of evidence of war crimes since World War II. Galbraith tells of the difficulties in securing and transporting such papers and how they illustrated the cravenness of Saddam’s regime. He was interviewed by Charles Stuart Kennedy beginning in 1999.

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Pac-Man Fever

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July 2016 saw the explosion of the global phenomenon Pokémon Go, where people walk around town (and often into traffic or ditches) trying to catch various animated creatures that look like they are actually sitting there in front of you. (If you really do believe they are in front of you and not just on your smartphone, please seek medical attention immediately.) While many welcome this as a fun way to get out off the couch and others see it as another Sign of the Approaching Apocalypse, truth be told obsession with video games has been around at least since the 1980s and has even affected high-ranking government officials who ought to know better.

Johnny Young served in The Hague, Netherlands as Counselor for Administration from 1985-1988; he was interviewed by Charles Stuart Kennedy beginning October 2005.

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This podcast is adapted from a one-hour lecture given to classes of newly-hired Foreign Service Officers in 2005/2006 during their first week of training at the Foreign Service Institute. Mr. Zetkulic is a Senior Foreign Service Officer who was then serving as Executive Director of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training.

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George P. Shultz was Secretary of State for President Reagan from 1982 to 1989, the longest such tenure since Dean Rusk in the 1960s. As Secretary, Shultz resolved the pipeline sanctions problem between Western Germany and the Soviet Union, worked to maintain allied unity amid anti-nuclear demonstrations in 1983, persuaded President Reagan to dialogue with Mikhail Gorbachev and negotiated an agreement between Israel and Lebanon in response to the Lebanese civil war. After leaving office in 1989, Shultz worked closely with the Bush administration on foreign policy and was an adviser for George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign.

Shultz was a no-nonsense manager and highly-prepared negotiator who did not suffer fools gladly, but was compassionate towards those displaced by political upheaval and appreciative of those who served him and the U.S. well. Thanks to his long tenure as Secretary, Shultz touched the lives of many Foreign Service Officers.

All of the following were interviewed by Charles Stuart Kennedy. Thomas Miller, interviewed in April, 2010, was Vice Consul in Chiang Mai, Thailand from 1979-1981. Thomas Niles, interviewed in June, 1998, was Deputy Assistant Secretary of European Affairs at State Department, 1981-1985. Henry Allen Holmes, Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs, 1985-1989, was interviewed  in March 1999.  Phyllis Oakley was interviewed in March, 2000; she was Deputy Spokesman from 1986-1989. Richard Solomon was on the Policy Planning Staff in State Department from 1986-1989 and interviewed in September, 1996. Charles Anthony Gillespie, interviewed in September, 1995, was Ambassador to Colombia 1985-1988.

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John Paul II was one of the most charismatic popes in recent history, a rock star who attracted millions during his frequent trips abroad and who was considered a beacon of hope for people in his native Poland. Born Karol Joseph Wojtyła on May 18, 1920 in Wadowice in southern Poland, he was elected pope in 1978, the first non-Italian pope in 500 years. He was critically wounded by a Turkish terrorist while in St. Peter’s Square in 1981; he later took the unprecedented step of meeting his would-be assassin in his prison cell.

He was fluent in eight languages and his pontificate, which lasted more than 26 years, was the third longest in history. He greatly expanded diplomatic relations with other states, from 85 countries in 1978 to 174 countries in 2005, including the U.S. The man who oversaw a record number of canonizations was himself canonized on April 27, 2014.

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