American Diplomat

By Ambassador (Retired) Pete Romero and Writer/Producer Laura Bennett

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Kristen Mason
 Jan 7, 2019

Description

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.

Episode Date
Counterterrorism - The Diplomat's Perspective
28:53

Gerald Fierstein, counterterrorism expert for the State Department, helps us understand how violent extremist groups attract young men, and what different nations do to bring them back to the fold, according to local values and customs.  

Jan 17, 2019
More Fun Facts about Trade
30:28

Did you know that over 11 million jobs in the U.S. come from exports?  And that they pay U.S. citizens 15-20% more than non-export related jobs?  Dan Crocker debunks our most intrenched myths about trade.  Plus, why does Pete ask if he's a meatball? Learn this and more, workin' at the Car Wash!  (If you weren't alive in the 70s, this song will fill your heart with longing for the decade you missed.)

Jan 10, 2019
Questions, Questions...
29:22

Why do we care about diversity in the Foreign Service?  When did you know this job was "the one"?  How do you do your job with so much danger out there these days?  Students visiting the State Department as Cox Fellows have some pretty good questions.  Julie Chung, Stacy Williams and Luis Mendez, plus of course Pete, give their two cents.  Even Laura chimes in, when truly moved.

Jan 03, 2019
College Students Visit State
27:35

The American dream is alive and well at the U.S. Department of State.  Stacy Williams, Luis Mendez and Julie Chung share with visiting Cox Fellows inspiring stories of their journeys from where they began to leadership roles in the Foreign Service.  And to keep the inspiration going, music from Funkadelic:  One Nation Under a Groove!

Dec 27, 2018
A Public Servant in the Private Sector
18:24

Did you know that 95% of the world's consumers live outside the United States?  As President, Global Public Affairs at UPS, former Economics Officer Laura Lane helps reduce corruption at borders, in turn helping small and midsize businesses prosper, while advancing global rights for women and reducing poverty throughout the world. 

 

Dec 20, 2018
When You Shouldn't Follow the Rules
23:27

Economics Officer Laura Lane served in Rwanda during its period of genocide in the 1990s and learned when you should, and when you should not, follow the rules.  Here is the audio track of her TED talk on the subject, bookended with comments from Pete.

Dec 14, 2018
Secretary of State James Baker Reflects on Bush and Our Times
21:27

James Baker, Secretary of State under George H.W. Bush, remembers President Bush and puts today's foreign policy events in perspective as he receives the Walter and Lenore Annenberg Award for Excellence in Diplomacy.  "A golden age for humanity," he calls our times, and recalls a day when "we all sang from the same hymnal, which meant that our allies and our adversaries clearly understood U.S. policy and could not twist differences to their advantage." 

Dec 06, 2018
The Dictator Hit Parade
20:48

Ambassador Joe Sullivan has known a lot of dictators.  Who are they?  What are they like?  How do they do it?  "All I want to do is make this a prosperous, democratic country," is a good thing to say to Americans, these charming men have found.  

Nov 29, 2018
President vs. Strongman: No Peace in Angola
32:53

Diamonds, Petroleum, widespread human suffering and a decades-long civil war.  Ambassador Joe Sullivan talks about the U.S. role as monitor of the peace and demobilization process: "It was time to choose, and choosing was not between the angel and the devil; we had to chose the less bad option."

Nov 23, 2018
Bonus Chat - Is It Happening Here?
09:49

Turkey, Russia, Venezuela:  In what ways is the rise of strongmen in those countries similar and different from what we're seeing in the United States?  What role do press freedom and demonizing adversaries play in the rise of a dictator?  

Nov 21, 2018
The Cult of Jim Jones - Murder-Suicide in Guyana
35:42

November 18 is the anniversary of the Jonestown massacre (40th, can you believe it?).  Chuck English walks us through his experience as the first American diplomat to witness the aftermath.  With bonus discussion about Congressman Leo Ryan, an "experiential congressman", whose arrival on the scene immediately preceded the tragedy.  

Nov 15, 2018
How Did Erdogan Do It? - Is it Happening Here?
42:14

Populism and religiosity:  Erdogan begins as a reformer, then builds a corrupt government that leads Turkey into economic peril and total political control through a narrative that stokes fear of victimization at the hand of external enemies.  Bob Pearson shows us how Turkey got where it is today in the second part of our discussion with him as part of our series, "Is It Happening Here?"

Nov 08, 2018
Turkey's Erdogan - Is It Happening Here?
33:01

Corruption, hostage-taking, and a populace divided over Erdogan's Muslim Brotherhood-style government.  Ambassador Bob Pearson helps us understand Turkey's era of us-vs.-them politics in the newest episode of our series Is It Happening Here?

Nov 02, 2018
Stove-piped to Death?
21:05

Why was the Nairobi attack not prevented?  How was it planned, and why did al-Qaeda choose that embassy?  Ambassador Prudence Bushnell helps us answer these questions and tells how she led in the aftermath, in ways that only a woman can lead.  

Oct 25, 2018
Take Care of Your People: Bombing in Nairobi, 1998
32:59

"I could not take away people's pain or anger or injuries or post-traumatic stress,  but I could accompany them."  Ambassador Prudence Bushnell leads the US Embassy in Nairobi through the aftermath of a massive bomb attack on August 7, 1998.  213 people died instantly, 500 were wounded, 750 businesses were blown up.  Says Bushnell, "Take care of your people, the rest will follow."

Oct 18, 2018
Expeditionary Diplomacy is What, Exactly?
31:29

Mongolia, Turkmenistan and the Marshall Islands:  What do they all have in common?  Mike Senko opened the first American embassies in each one!  And he lived to tell the tale.  

Oct 14, 2018
Can We Make a Diplomat of Laura? Laura in the Hot Seat
26:01

Reporting from fictional Sulandia, a skill that can be developed. Dorothy Mayhew and Michael Gray, diplomats who teach at The Foreign Service Institute, lead the way. Plus bonus info on the life of a State Department cable: What is it? Who writes it and who reads it? What is its impact?

Oct 04, 2018
Who Knew? Diplomatic Training, Revealed
29:16

Are Foreign Service Officers made or born that way?  And what, exactly, is a "demarche"? A tour through basic training, Foreign Service style, with Dorothy Mayhew and Michael Gray.  

Sep 27, 2018
Bouazizi, Arab Spring, SiriusXM and Is It Happening Here?
23:31

Pete and Laura's recent appearance on SiriusXM with host Eric Ham, bookended by discussion of the psychology of frustration, even humiliation, that can lead whole populations to support strongmen.

Sep 20, 2018
Tamil Genocide - History Repeats Itself?
30:04

Bob Blake offers an alternative to genocide, but his help is refused.  How similar is the tragedy in Sri Lanka to the current crisis in Myanmar?

Sep 18, 2018
Tamil Tigers - The Memory Still Haunts Sri Lanka
29:06

Want to go to jail in Sri Lanka today? Just mention the Tamil Tigers in a positive manner and you will be on trial.  That's how upset people still are about the war that ended almost ten years ago.  Bob Blake unpacks this time of terror in Sri Lanka.

Sep 13, 2018
Russia - Is It Happening Here? Putin Consolidates Power
32:15

Sandy Vershbow, US Ambassador to Russia 2002-2005, recounts Putin's gradual seizure of power over more and more of the Russian State, leaving ordinary Russians with little, if any, voice in the policies that affect their lives.

Sep 08, 2018
Russia - Is It Happening Here? "He Must Be Like Putin"
25:58

Conditions precedent and the rise of populist autocrat Putin, via Sandy Vershbow, US Ambassador to Russia, 2001-2005. Plus bonus Russian hit song "One Like Putin". Your internal soundscape may never be the same. The second country in American Diplomat's series, "Is It Happening Here?"

Aug 30, 2018
Pete Goes Native - Second Part of Pete's Visit with the Indians
32:33

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."

Aug 23, 2018
Cowboys and Indian at the Embassy
37:56

"Embassy death squads?  Sure, I made that up!"  ~ Moi, Huarani Indian and tribal ambassador

Aug 16, 2018
Soybean Laura Goes to Washington
30:29

Trade, demystified. And accompanied by a stiff drink. Plus bonus song "Soybeans!"  Shaun Donnelly tells all.

Aug 09, 2018
Venezuela: Is it Happening Here? Chavez Takes Control
30:24

Once elected, how does Chavez systematically seize control of the politics and economy of his country, and how does this erode Fulano's choices and way of life?  

Aug 03, 2018
Venezuela: Is It Happening Here?
34:36

Brian Naranjo describes life for a middle-class voter during the lead-up to the election of Hugo Chavez, a former coup plotter who becomes the elected dictator of Venezuela.  This is the first episode in a series within American Diplomat titled, "Is it happening here?"

Jul 27, 2018
Is It Happening Here?
11:00

Pete and Laura introduce a new series within American Diplomat, in which they talk with diplomats who witnessed the beginning phases of democracy's doom and who can tell the story from the perspective of the individual voter who unwittingly elected a dictator. 

Jul 19, 2018
I've Been Kicked Out of Better Countries Than This
26:23

A social media battleground for hearts and minds in Venezuela, an American in prison on false charges of espionage and terrorism, and a prison riot.  Brian Naranjo puts his neck way out there to protect Joshua Holt.  

 

 

Jul 12, 2018
Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places
29:49

Venezuela today: People are starving and the currency is almost worthless. The government is stealing as much as it can and destroying democratic institutions. The message to American diplomats: Welcome to Venezuela, let me show you the door.

Jul 05, 2018
Send Lawyers, Guns and Money
23:23

Two air traffic controllers, fired for going on strike, go into (very) private industry. A naked American, on a balcony and intent on self-destruction, finds safety. More tales of what can go wrong in Tijuana, via Kate Canavan, plus tips on how to make your own travels abroad much safer.

Jun 28, 2018
Who Says America Never Wins Anymore?
29:25

We're here to show you how America wins on a grassroots level every single day.  We share with you our interview with Eric Ham on the Midday Briefing, POTUS channel, SiriusXM.  

Jun 21, 2018
Tijuana: What Could Go Wrong?
22:10

Assault, conviction, life and death across borders. US Citizen Services, with courage and commitment, helps Americans abroad in every imaginable conundrum. Kate Canavan shares her tales.

Jun 14, 2018
Go With God, Children!
22:57

Cherie and John Feeley find a way to care for a child with learning differences in Columbia, a country riven by violence from insurgencies and narco trafficking.  

Jun 07, 2018
Little Elian Gonzalez
27:29

Poor Elian!  He's left Cuba with his mom, who has now drowned.  Possibly aided by dolphins, he arrives alone on the shores of Florida, to be made into perhaps the youngest pawn ever to be used in international and domestic policy wars.

Jun 01, 2018
Fidel's Eyes Are Everywhere, and Cuba's Special Period
36:52

Surveillance can be good - if you need a potato, just ask. But if you're a Marine, be careful! And what made Cuba's Special Period in Time of Peace so special? Deprivation, starvation and flight. Vicki Huddleston connects the dots and helps us understand our relationship with Cuba today.  

May 25, 2018
Fidel and Our Woman in Havana
22:27

Vicki Huddleston spars with Castro, as one of the few women in senior roles in the State Department, and one of the only people who actually stood up to the dictator.  

May 18, 2018
John Feeley & the FARC: Colombia's Guerilla Revolutionaries
25:21

Feeley visits FARC guerrillas and records the group's fantastical vision of world leadership, and upon his return is faced with politicized accusations of negotiating with terrorists.  

May 11, 2018
Iran Deal - Wendy Sherman Negotiates
21:40

The Iran nuclear deal explained.  What was it, and how did our chief negotiator Wendy Sherman help make it happen?  

May 09, 2018
John Feeley - Panama Papers
32:41

Feeley's ambassadorship begins with the leak of the Panama Papers, a trove of documents exposing massive international financial fraud.  When the US is accused of orchestrating the leak, what's an ambassador to do?  Video diplomacy is born.

 

May 04, 2018
Andrew Albertson - Three Explosions in Afghanistan
17:12

From an evangelical upbringing, Albertson studies in Kenya and then devotes his life to international development.  He survives three bombs in Afghanistan while working with USAID, and now leads the diplomacy advocacy organization Foreign Policy for America.

Apr 27, 2018
Gina Winstanley, Oman and Saudi Arabia
26:22

Do you know where to find a hooker in Oman?  Go to the hospital!  And what happens when your boss nixes your husband's job choice in Saudi Arabia, and you are intent on preserving your marriage?  Reposted from October 2017

Apr 20, 2018
Jonathan Addleton - The Dust of Kandahar
18:03

Addleton shares his haunting experience as the only one left standing after a suicide bomber attacks his party while visiting a school in Afghanistan.  Was it worth it?  

Apr 13, 2018
Ajani Husbands - Islamabad and Port Au Prince
30:03

In places like Pakistan where governments may not be friendly, cultural diplomacy, a form of "soft power", is power indeed.  And in Haiti, Husbands gains the nickname, "dread la ki te refize m '," or "the dread who refused me."

Apr 06, 2018
Ajani Husbands, Dreadlock Diplomat
31:34

Grass to tree roots: Ajani helps us understand how the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott in 1955 impacts lives today in Eritrea and the area that is now South Sudan.

Mar 30, 2018
Desiree Cormier - Africa and Tijuana
29:50

How does diplomacy help stem a public health crisis like Ebola?  And what can a diplomat do (and not do) to help Americans in Mexican prison?

Mar 22, 2018
Desiree Cormier - Creole, Colored or Black?
28:36

Cormier, raised in part by her civil rights activist grandfather, identifies as African American, or, black.  So why does everyone in Pretoria tell her she's not black at all, but instead, "colored"?  And how does she persuade our government to stop considering Nelson Mandela a terrorist?  Also hear how she comes to dance to Pata Pata during Barack Obama's state visit.

Mar 16, 2018
Robert Blake - Sri Lanka, Terror Escalates
29:18

Secrecy, executions, and human shields in Sri Lanka.  Our diplomats make a difference in thousands of people's lives.  

Mar 08, 2018
Robert Blake - Terror in Sri Lanka
28:14

Who are the Tamil Tigers?  Hint: This is no baseball team and they aren't playing ball.

Feb 28, 2018
Pete Romero - Plan Colombia, Part 2
36:28

Crisis averted:  Where there might have been massive flight, and/or a narco state, Colombia instead enjoys stability and prosperity amid a new peace agreement.

Feb 23, 2018
Pete Romero - Plan Colombia, Part 1
26:29

Cocaleros, paramilitaries, a dirty war and a failing state in Colombia.

Feb 15, 2018
Wendy Sherman - Iran Deal
21:10

She wasn't Wendy Sherman or a woman or a Jewish American. She was the United States of America.

Feb 07, 2018
Wendy Sherman - Baltimore to Pyongyang
25:41

An unwavering belief in public service propels Wendy Sherman from local activist to international negotiator.  

Feb 01, 2018
Charles Ray - Golf with a Dictator
33:13

Putting pedophiles in prison with the help of one of the world's most loathed autocrats.

Jan 25, 2018
Charles Ray - Zimbabwe's Authoritarian
29:29

Zimbabwe's elected authoritarian, Robert Mugabe, seen from a human perspective.

Jan 18, 2018
Charles English - Murder-Suicide in Guyana
32:25

Charles English, 26 and new to the Foreign Service, is among the first American officials on the scene of the Jonestown massacre in 1978.  

Jan 11, 2018
Mike Senko - Grenades and Guns
21:33

Mike Senko describes rocket-propelled grenades exploding outside his office, driving a car at gunpoint, and the reason Foreign Service Officers volunteer to take these risks.  

Jan 04, 2018
Tom Miller - Soldiers Without Weapons
23:39

Tom Miller discusses the decapitation of Greece's November 17 terrorist group, and reminds us that life in the Foreign Service can be very dangerous.

Dec 27, 2017
Tom Miller - Drugs and Thugs
27:29

Tom Miller assists refugees and reports on the opium and heroin trade in Asia's golden triangle.  A close friend is murdered in retaliation for DEA success.

Dec 21, 2017
Dennis Jett on Lori Berenson and Why He Joined the Foreign Service
23:48

Jett explains that many Americans are not aware that other countries' laws apply to them, and shares the personal rewards of a Foreign Service career.  

Dec 13, 2017
Dennis Jett and Liberia's Civil War
28:17

Dennis Jett describes three warring factions in Liberia, evacuations and a flotilla of Marines off the African coast.

Dec 06, 2017
Ron Neumann - Vietnam to Afghanistan
28:07

From Vietnam to Afghanistan, from infantry to embassy - how were these two wars the same, and how were they different?  How does a military background inform an ambassador's work?

Nov 28, 2017
Lino Gutierrez - Part 2
24:02

Service in the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Nicaragua, all leading up to plans for US immigration reform that are stopped short by 9/11.

Nov 22, 2017
Lino Gutierrez - Part 1
23:55

Lino Gutierrez experiences the Cuban revolution, Columbian "Violencia", and the American struggle for civil rights first hand, all before he is nine years old.

Nov 14, 2017
Tim Carney - Part 2
23:43

Says Tim: "Nobody foresaw ISIS.  Nobody foresaw the failure to deal with the chasm between the Sunnis and the Shia.  The personal foreboding was that this can't end well."

Nov 07, 2017
Gina Winstanley - Part 2
47:50

Religious police stop Gina and terrorists attack the consulate general in Jeddah.  

Oct 31, 2017
Gina Winstanley - Part 1
26:09

Do you know where to find a hooker in Oman?  Go to the hospital!  And what happens when your boss nixes your husband's job choice in Saudi Arabia, and you are intent on preserving your marriage?  Let's ask Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley.  

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Oct 26, 2017
Tim Carney - Part 1
24:29

Vietnam, Cambodia, Haiti, South Africa - Tim was part of each country's inflection point; some got better, and some got much worse. Why?  And what happens when Washington muzzles reports from the officers in the field?  

Oct 26, 2017