Raymond F. Smith
This issue includes Commentary articles on two very timely issues. Robert Pearson’s article on Turkiye marks the centenary of the establishment of the Republic of Turkey. Alisha Smith-Arthur’s article on her personal involvement in PEPFAR’s successful campaign to limit the impact of HIV in Africa comes as some members of Congress want to end funding for the effort. I offer a brief overview of the role of negotiations in ending several of the most destructive wars in modern European history with the aim of seeing whether there are any lessons from them that are applicable to the war in Ukraine. We are also pleased to present in this issue the winning entry in the 2023 American Foreign Service Association’s high school essay contest. Justin Ahn’s account of the role of the Foreign Service in building a cooperative relationship with Vietnam after a brutal war is a fine piece of scholarship and analysis in itself and also a persuasive demonstration that creative diplomacy can help heal a relationship that seems irretrievably broken. In that connection, our final Commentary summarizes the DACOR Bacon House Foundation’s annual conference, devoted this year to the prospects and problems of rebuilding a world order after the conflict in Ukraine. The summary suggests that it was a lively conference that offered divergences from some commonly held conceptions of the international system and its prospects.
Our Eyewitness section includes two pieces. Jim Bullington describes an outbreak of civil violence in Chad that necessitated the evacuation of US embassy staff with the assistance of the French Foreign Legion. Like June Carter Perry’s article in last August’s issue, Jim shows that Foreign Service life can bring danger rather than glamor. On a lighter note, frequent contributor Jonathan Eckert recounts the visit of a cinematic sex symbol who provided the occasion for a family outing, even though she was filming a B-grade movie and no longer at the peak of her allure.
From our Archives we have drawn a 2015 article discussing whether Turkiye should be a NATO member and, in light of recent coups in Africa, a recent article addressing the challenges of democratic development on the continent.
Diplomats are often privileged and challenged to serve in countries undergoing historic change. In Moments in Diplomatic History, John Gunderson describes serving in Ukraine during the period leading to independence and Don Kursch describes dealing with the German government in the immediate aftermath of reunification.
I have also provided links to two outside articles that I believe warrant attention. The first analyzes the deterioration in the US/Russian relationship over the past two decades. The second argues that a new Global South has emerged that focusses on national interests rather than ideological affinities.