The Foreign Service Journal, December 2022
12 DECEMBER 2022 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL highest priority. If the Russians want to know why countries like Romania were so eager to become NATO members, they need only to look in the mirror. Jonathan B. Rickert FSO, retired Bainbridge Island, Washington The Democracy Challenge If you’re an FSO and find yourself feeling (as I do) appalled at the recent and continued internal threats to our democracy, or even just discouraged at seeing your professional efforts apparently go for naught, then stop what you are doing and find “Democracy as a Vocation” (September 2022 FSJ )—the only For- eign Service Journal article I’ve ever kept at my desk. While calling his article “a love letter to junior FSOs everywhere,” José M. Garzón doesn’t sugarcoat the challenges, disap- pointments, and dangers we face. On the contrary, as a retired FSO with three decades of USAID work behind him, he provides a clear-eyed and experienced view of them. But rather than despairing, Mr. Garzón quotes Max Weber to enjoin us all to arm ourselves “with that steadfast- ness of heart which can brave even the crumbling of all hopes.” Again borrow- ing from Weber, Mr. Garzón then pro- vides a helpful and inspiring summary of what it takes to do so. So take two minutes and read it. All of us can use a reminder of why we should—and how we can—“brave even the crumbling of all hopes.” Will Denham FSO U.S. Consulate General Vancouver Guinea Opening: Setting the Record Straight As one of the two officers who opened the first U.S. embassy in Guinea in 1959, I must correct a couple inaccu- racies in Gregory Garland’s interesting article on the Kennedy-Nixon competi- tion for credit in advancing U.S. policy toward Africa (September 2022 FSJ ). Garland notes that Guinea rejected President Charles de Gaulle’s offer to join what amounted to a sort of com- monwealth based on the British model, Guinea being the only former French colony to do so, in September 1958. But Garland claims that the U.S. did not open an embassy in Conakry until eight months later. The first American chargé d’affaires, Robert Rinden, and I arrived to open the embassy on Friday the 13th, in January 1959, a fateful date for the trou- bles that followed (see my memoir, So You Want to Be a Diplomat? ) . We had been held back for more than a week in Dakar, Senegal, until the State Department felt we had pacified de Gaulle sufficiently. In fact, this was four, not eight, months after September 1958, though it was well after the Soviet and British ambassadors arrived. We were snubbed on arrival at the airport. The first U.S. ambassador, John Howard Morrow, arrived on July 30, 1959, more than six months later. Garland also asserts that the new Bureau of African Affairs opened its doors on Sept. 8, 1959, just prior to President Touré’s state visit to the U.S. from Oct. 15 through Nov. 9, 1959. But before going to Guinea, I had been fully briefed at the Bureau of Afri- can Affairs, which was established in 1958, not 1959, a fact Garland appears to recognize when he later corrects Kennedy’s debate assertion that it was established in 1957 by parenthetically adding “[ sic , 1958]” on page 47. I would add that a December 1960 congressional delegation led by Senator Frank Church (D-Idaho) that visited Conakry with young Ted Kennedy (before he was a senator) made no noticeable mark on Touré’s pro-Soviet foreign policy. George Lambrakis Senior FSO, retired Paris, France Guinea Opening— The Author Responds I am thoroughly appreciative of the Journal ’s loyal readership being capable of eyeballing every detail; had I known of the letter writer, I would have interviewed him! In fact, I have found [ADST] oral histories a goldmine for Conakry and other posts. Lambrakis’ letter accurately places the date of the opening of the new Bureau of African Affairs (AF) in 1958. It was organized in August of that year and the new assistant secretary took office Sept. 8, 1958. My article should have included that year along with the day and month. That was my mistake. The Foreign Service Journal published an article by me in May 2008 commemo- rating the 50th anniversary of AF; titled “The Africa Bureau’s Intellectual God- fathers, ” it details the story behind the bureau’s creation (I referenced it in the original footnotes). It’s a good source of information on a not-very-studied epoch. In any case, the Touré visit was indeed its baptismal program of importance, as I state. It was a marked success for the bureau, even if Vice President Richard Nixon gave it an envious thumbs-down because of the Kennedy tour de force.
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