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Check out our FEATURED ORAL HISTORY: Charles A. Ray

Ambassador Charles A. Ray has played many a role in the development of American foreign policy. He served as ambassador to Cambodia from 2002-2005 and as diplomat in residence in Houston, Texas from 2005-2006.

Some excerpts:

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On Chinese-American Relations 1983-1985: "They were interesting in that I think the Chinese were struggling with just how to interact with us. I found it interesting that there was a difference between the way the officials in the south dealt with us and the way their counterparts in Beijing did; I found that out in an interesting way. I was sent as escort officer once with a guy from the refugee bureau here, this was also about the time when you had lots of ethnic Chinese coming from Vietnam who were being evicted. Then there were also the occasional artillery duels between the Chinese and the Vietnamese and they were putting the ethnic Chinese refugees from Vietnam in refugee camps within artillery range of the border which upset a lot of people back here."

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On attending the War College: "It was fine, I had a great year. It was a chance to sit back and think and to discuss thing with people, to sort of find out where your mind is in terms of your profession and how you do things. It was something that unfortunately the State Department doesn’t do enough of and doesn’t do well is to take people who are in this really high pressure important occupations and pull them out every now and then for a few months to give them time to decompress and to sort of reinvent themselves. I got a chance to do a lot of reading that I just ordinarily wouldn’t either have the time to do or just wouldn’t have the motivation to do some writing and research and to stretch. In the department you are in your cone or in your geographical area and you are pretty much locked into that. In the War College I got a chance to explore parts of the world that otherwise probably never would see; I got a chance to go to India and Pakistan, that wouldn’t have been possible without the War College experience because I’d been pretty much locked into Asia or Africa in the Department."

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Read more about Ambassador Charles A. Ray HERE.

For a list of oral histories by NAME, click HERE.  ADVANCED SEARCH:  click HERE.


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Poor Richard’s Podcasts: Tales of American Diplomacy


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A gripping diplomatic thriller that tells the harrowing saga of the 1998 bombing of Embassy Nairobi, Ambassador Bushnell’s first-person account provides lessons of leadership, crisis management, and policy acumen. The tale dramatically illustrates the terrorism danger diplomats confront daily.”
––Ambassador ROBERT E. GRIBBIN III (Ret.)

On August 7, 1998, al-Qaeda bombed the U.S. embassies in Kenya, where Prudence Bushnell was U.S. ambassador, and Tanzania. Terrorism, Betrayal, and Resilience is her account of what happened, how it happened, and its impact twenty years later. Congress held no hearings about the bombings, the national security community held no after-action reviews, and the mandatory Accountability Review Board focused on narrow security issues. Then on September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda attacked the U.S. homeland, and the East Africa bombings became little more than a footnote.

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This book is Pru Bushnell’s account of her quest to understand how these bombings could have happened, given the scrutiny bin Laden and his cell in Nairobi had been getting since 1996 from special groups throughout the U.S. intelligence community. She tracks national security strategies and assumptions about terrorism and the Muslim world that failed to keep us safe in 1998 and continue today. In this hard-hitting, no-holds-barred account she reveals what led to poor decisions in Washington and demonstrates how diplomacy and leadership going forward will be our country’s most potent defense.

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