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George H.W. Bush held diplomatic posts at the United Nations and in Beijing before becoming vice president and then president of the United States.  As U.S. Ambassador to the UN 1971-73, Bush said “I learned that the United Nations is like a parliamentary body in a sense. You’re working for votes. I learned that you can’t always do it your way. I learned to treat other countries, large and small, with respect. Even the small ones. Once I went to call on the Burundi embassy which consisted of a secretary, the ambassador and one other guy. And word spread through the United Nations that the United States ambassador is willing to reach out. And that helped. When you get down to some close votes, and a person who didn’t have instructions could vote as he chose, we could win some votes that way.”




Commentary & Analysis

A New Cold War: Personal Reflections Regarding Russia’s Missed Opportunities with NATO, Ukraine, and its Western Neighbors by Keith Smith

America’s Yemen Policy by Bill Rugh

Remembrances of President George H.W. Bush, the Man and the Statesman edited by Ted McNamara

America’s Unipolar Moment of Renewal or Collapse? By Ofer Israeli


Eyewitness: Foreign Service

The 1978 Revolution in Afghanistan by Larry Thompson

Good Grief! An Embarrassing Career-Endangering Episode by Hans Tuch

From the National Archives

Rascals, hysterical women, and bankers: Dealing with American citizens abroad, 1921 by David A. Langbart

Foreign Service Accounts from the Oral History Archives (ADST.ORG)

Forty years ago, on January 1, 1979, the U.S. established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China, simultaneously de-recognizing the Taiwan-based Republic of China. In ADST’s extensive country reader on China, officers in Washington and Taipei related hearing the sudden news and dealing with the complex aftermath.

Harvey Feldman, Director, Office of Republic of China Affairs, 1977-1978 (p. 848-857)

On December 15, 1978 I arrived at the office around 8 a.m. – my usual time. As I began to pour myself a cup of coffee, I was summoned to Holbrooke’s office. I was told to call Ambassador Unger in Taipei and instruct him to seek an immediate appointment with President Chiang Ching-kuo in order to inform him that around 9 p.m. in the evening (our time) the U.S. president was going to announce that negotiations on “normalization” had been concluded and that the U.S. on January 1, 1979 would de-recognize the ROC and would recognize the PRC as the sole legal government of China. While these negotiations were going on, our embassy in Taiwan was in limbo…

William Andreas Brown, Deputy Chief of Mission, Taiwan, 1978 (p. 2070-2079)

Finally, there came a moment when we lowered the U.S. flag, as they were raising the flag at the American embassy in Beijing. It was all very emotional and very heart-rending for those of us on the site. This marked the end of an era. We had invested a tremendous amount of treasure, emotion, and money in the whole relationship with the Republic of China. And now we were ending it.

Neal Donnelly, Cultural Affairs Officer/Deputy PAO Taiwan, 1975-1981 (p. 1469-1477) February 28 was the last day when we had any official capacity whatsoever… Senator Ernest Hollings decided to punish the State Department for doing things without informing congress: he held up our pay. There could be no money spent on anything in Taiwan while we were there; no visas could be issued, nothing could be done. No official Americans could come and we could not go to our offices. We were all put on administrative leave.


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Terrorism, Betrayal & Resilience Review by Frances Duffy

Books of Interest

Escaping War and Waves: Encounters With Syrian Refugees by Olivier Kugler

The Virtual Weapon and International Order by Lucas Kello

The China Mission: George Marshall’s Unfinished War, 1945-47 by Danel Kurtz-Phelan

Defeat is an Orphan: How Pakistan Lost The Great South Asian War by Myra Macdonald

Salman’s Legacy: The Dilemmas of a New Era in Saudi Arabia Edited by Madawi Al-Rasheed

Crashed: How A Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World by Adam Tooze

A New Foreign Policy: Beyond American Exceptionalism by Jeffrey D. Sachs

No Place For Russia: European Security Institutions Since 1989 (Woodrow Wilson Center Press Series) by William H. Hill

End Of An Era: How China’s Authoritarian Revival is Undermining Its Rise by Carl Minzner


National Security Archive | The Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, 1979: Not Trump’s Terrorists, Nor Zbig’s Warm Water Ports


Carter Center | A Momentous Occasion: Academic Papers Written to Commemorate President Carter’s 1979 Decision to Normalize Relations with China


China File | Normalization of Sino-American Relations: 40 Years Later


China File | Did President George H.W. Bush Mishandle China?


Rand | Consequences of a Precipitous U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan


Council on Foreign Relations | The North Atlantic Treaty Organization

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