Thoughts by a former Southerner retired from the Foreign Service

After being drafted and sent to Vietnam, it was interesting to see close up how foreign policy is made.


After the A-100 introduction to the Foreign Service, I was assigned as a consular officer to Sao Paulo, Brazil. From there, I returned to the main State Department where I was assigned to the INR Watch Office, the office that monitors intelligence for the State Department Operations Center. Since it was physically in the Operations Center we used to hear calls patched through the center from around the world. Kissinger was Secretary of State, and his distinctive voice could always be heard when he was on the line.

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Sao Paulo, Brazil

My first and third overseas assignments were in Brazil. First, in Sao Paulo and second in Brasilia. In Sao Paulo in the 1970s. I was a consular officer, issuing visas to people who wanted to visit or immigrate to the United States. In Brasilia, I was the science officer, working mainly on nuclear proliferation and environmental issues. Argentina and Brazil abandoned their nuclear rivalry while I was there, and we made some slight progress in stopping deforestation of the Amazon.


Bangkok, Thailand

My second overseas assignment. In Bangkok I was in charge of the embassy's computer systems. The main users of the computers in the embassy were the consular section, which did background checks on visa applicants, and the administrative section which kept many databases on personnel and supplies. Outside of the embassy, special US government teams kept huge databases on Vietnamese who wanted to go to the US to live -- a program for refugees inside Thailand in camps along the border, and the Orderly Departure Program which provided periodic airline flights for Vietnamese still stuck in Vietnam.


Warsaw, Poland

My fourth overseas assignment was in Warsaw, Poland. Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium, totam rem aperiam.

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