Bob Rackmales will speak about an article he wrote for the Foreign Service Journal about the ordeals of Foreign Service officer John Paton Davies. Despite having been awarded the Medal of Freedom in 1948 for “exceptional and meritorious service in China and India from March 1942 until December 1944,” Davies became caught up in the politically inspired “Who lost China” controversy. His career was brought to an end by Secretary of State John Foster Dulles for alleged “lack of judgment, discretion and reliability.” Ironically, it was not until the administration of Richard Nixon that he was fully rehabilitated.
The contemporary relevance of those events will not be lost on anyone who observed the treatment of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch prior to and during the first impeachment trial of former President Trump. The similarities between the two situations even extend to the nefarious role played by a Presidential emissary — Patrick Hurley, in Davies’ case and Rudy Giuliani in Yovanovitch’s.
The dilemma underlying both of these high-level persecutions was beautifully outlined by historian Barbara Tuchman. Her speech to the luncheon of the American Foreign Service Association, “Why Policymakers Do Not Listen,” is as relevant in 2021 as it was when it was delivered in 1973.
Presenter Bob Rackmales served 32 years as a career Foreign Service officer. Armed conflict was prevalent in four of the five countries in which Bob served. He has been teaching at Senior College for a decade. A member of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Policy, he is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University and the National War College and was a Fulbright Grantee at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany.