February 25, 2007
Nerds Only: Oral Histories of US Diplos Now Online
Quick note: The US Library of Congress has unleased upon unsuspecting humanity a large set of full text interviews with key US diplomats of the 20th century. Some MENA material is here, and elsewhere on the somewhat hard-to-navigate site. Nerds, start your engines.
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I love it! Thanks Matthew!
Posted by: ziz at February 26, 2007 08:05 PM
Posted by: zenpundit at February 26, 2007 11:35 PM
Nerds, all right.
Post your favorite snippets.
Posted by: matthew hogan at February 27, 2007 12:13 AM
Here's one from the John H. Kelly interview:
"Finally, in discussing the Middle East process in the 1989-91 period... I must commend the Egyptians for their creative and important initiatives... They provided major contributions time and time again. They would give us ideas to overcome blockages in the process. They would almost always suggest new tactics and strategies regardless whether the obstruction had been built by Israel, the PLO or another Arab country. They would sometimes even "front' for us; Mubarak might propose a course of action to a country on our behalf. He was a man of action; if we had a problem with Assad, he would immediately jump to his phone and talk to Assad... I also must commend the Egyptians for their patience; they would never let their frustrations block their imagination and drive. If something didn't work, they would just say: "Let's try something else". I had to admire that creativity and spunk. They would never give up! I had never worked too intimately with the Egyptians, but once I started, I was filled with great admiration; they were diplomats par excellence."
Posted by: ziz at February 27, 2007 05:03 PM
The Peck interview had its moments, especially when he talks about how they sent him to Morocco to learn Arabic in 1962. He spent 2 years learning Tangerine colloquial and then was shipped off to Tunisia where, fresh off the boat, he says to the porters, "Oh, my brothers, in Allah's name, handle these boxes with careful attention. They contain many things of importance to me and my family. May God reward you." Naturally, they can't understand a word he says and ask him if he speaks French.
Also, the amusing clientitis of the New England good-old-boy ambassador to Tunisia he worked under.
All of it drives home how little things have changed in the last 40 years of US efforts in the MENA region.
Posted by: Djuha at February 27, 2007 08:06 PM