The Foreign Service Journal, May 2024

58 MAY 2024 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL Afghanistan: Raising the Flag AMBASSADOR JEANINE JACKSON On Dec. 14, 2001, Ann Wright, John Kincannon, and I arrived at U.S. Embassy Kabul and were greeted by security specialists and the Afghan local staff who had been custodians for the shuttered embassy for 13 years. Exploring the compound revealed surreal images of abandoned tasks, equipment, and personal artifacts, hinting at the abrupt departure of its former occupants. Ambassador James Dobbins’ arrival marked the dawn of a new diplomatic era during a December 17 flag-raising ceremony organized by Kathleen Austin-Ferguson. Congressional delegations (CODELs) Frank Wolf, Joe Biden, and John McCain, plus General Tommy Franks and Secretary of State Colin Powell, promised U.S. support to President Hamid Karzai. Marines, plumbers, security, and development experts arrived. Ambassador Ryan Crocker assumed charge. My career total of embassies opened and reopened: 16. Cuba: U.S. in the News LYNN W. ROCHE Communication with Cuban citizens, most without access to the internet, was challenging. In February 2013, we proposed a media interview about visas, a subject of great interest to Cubans, that was accepted by the government newspaper Granma. This unprecedented engagement with regime- controlled Cuban media ran as a full-page article that was later broadcast on state news, reporting the consul general’s remarks accurately and respectfully. Our team achieved what was normal almost anywhere else in the world. It didn’t open the floodgates, but it did highlight our mutual interests and showed the human face of the U.S. government to Cubans. Tunisia: Inspired by a Revolution AMBASSADOR GORDON GRAY I was never prouder to be part of the Foreign Service than during my tour in Tunisia at the very start of the Arab Spring. I witnessed FSOs support and protect the American community with tremendous dedication and empathy. I appreciated how entry-level officers and seasoned FSOs worked seamlessly and creatively to recommend effective ways the United States could support the revolution and subsequent transition away from decades of autocratic rule. And I was inspired as I saw our Tunisian colleagues blossom and flourish when they spoke their minds freely for the first time ever. Cameroon: Defending LGBTQ+ Rights ERIC SALGADO While serving as human rights officer in Cameroon in 2018, I received information from a colleague that an HIV-positive LGBTQ+ Cameroonian had been arrested after being bamboozled on an online dating platform. The person thought they were going on a date and ended up being assaulted and jailed because of their sexuality. Learning that prison authorities denied this individual their antiretroviral medication, I called the regional governor to convey U.S. concern for the individual’s health and due process. The individual was not released, but my intervention resulted in them receiving life-saving medication; the Cameroonian government also committed to guaranteeing the individual’s due process, understanding the United States would be paying close attention. That day, and always, I’m deeply proud to represent the United States. Suriname: Overturning a Coup STANLEY MYLES It was Christmas Eve, 1990, and I was serving as chargé d’affaires in Paramaribo when the head of the Surinamese army unexpectedly forced the civilian government to relinquish power. Immediately, and during the weeks that followed, I worked to ensure the safety of my staff while drafting recommendations to the department to reverse the coup. With pressure from the members of the Organization for American States and the Dutch, less than three months after the coup the army agreed to permit new elections. At that point, our mission welcomed a new ambassador, and I returned to my deputy chief of mission role. It was the accomplishment I’m most proud of in my Foreign Service career.