In 1996 a group of retired American diplomats residing in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill triangle area of North Carolina conceived and launched American Diplomacy, an electronic journal of commentary and analysis on international issues, available free to all users of the world wide web. They did so with the cooperation of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which provided web site hosting facilities, and with the encouragement and advice of the Triangle Institute for Security Studies and the UNC Curriculum for Peace, War, and Defense.
Our goal was to draw on the expertise of actual practitioners of diplomacy as well as the analytical skills of outstanding academicians to educate readers regarding current international issues in a responsible, nonpartisan manner not readily available elsewhere. Also, through the publication of the memoirs of retired and active Foreign Service personnel we hoped to promote greater public understanding of the rigors and rewards of foreign service life and of the role of diplomats in shaping and carrying out American foreign policy. It was our further hope that the journal might interest youthful readers in considering the Foreign Service as a career.
In support of this effort the founders of American Diplomacy created American Diplomacy Publishers (ADP), a North Carolina-chartered nonprofit educational corporation granted 501(c)(3) tax-free status by the Internal Revenue Service. ADP’s board of directors was drawn originally from the community of retired Foreign Service officers residing in North Carolina and in the Washington, DC, area, as well as scholars from the faculties of UNC and Duke University. In the intervening years others in the Triangle, bringing military and business experience, have joined the board. Board members receive no pay; in fact, each member is required to make an annual financial contribution to the ADP treasury. Moreover, neither the authors whose articles appear in American Diplomacy nor the editing and publication staff of the journal receive any pay.
Since its founding American Diplomacy has published many hundreds of articles by noted foreign affairs experts including Admiral Stansfield Turner, ambassadors Hermann Eilts, Robert Strausz-Hupe, Peter Bridges, Edward Marks, J.R. Bullington, Ronald Palmer, Luis Santiago Sanz, and Francis Underhill. We have also featured essays by scholars such as John Lewis Gaddis, Ole Holsti, Michael Hunt, Robert Hinde, Madeline Hinde, Alex Roland, and Robin Dorff. All of these articles remain retrievable to readers in our electronic archives which can be accessed at americandiplomacy.org
Visits to articles appearing on the American Diplomacy web site have increased steadily, now totaling more than 200,000 per year. Moreover, the journal’s value as an educational resource has been recognized by America’s most prestigious universities, e.g., Harvard, Columbia, Johns Hopkins, Georgetown, and many others, all of whom have established links from their web sites to ours in order to make our material easily available to their faculties and students. Because of emails from readers wishing to be notified when we post new articles on our site, we can boast not only that our audience extends throughout the United States, but also that there are eager readers of American Diplomacy in 62 countries spanning the globe.
It is a source of pride with us that we are able to present to the world a refereed, high quality, serious publication at very low cost. As noted above the staff that edits and publishes the journal consists of unpaid volunteers working from computers in their homes. Only our webmaster is paid for her work. Moreover, ADP has taken steps to expand its activities by sponsoring alone, or in collaboration with other organizations, special events in the Triangle related to international affairs as another way to promote wider public knowledge of and appreciation for the role of the Foreign Service as the principal front-line defender of America’s foreign policy interests.
Launching American Diplomacy
From our Founding Editor on the occasion of our 15th anniversary
by Henry Mattox
In the fall of 1996, at a university town in North Carolina, several U.S. Foreign Service veterans met at the home of one of the group. They had under consideration, over lunchtime pizzas ordered in, putting some of the final touches on the organization conceived by two of those present, Dr. Henry Mattox and Amb.
Frank Crigler. In question was the launching of a brand new Internet journal.
This electronic publication, a type then not common, received the title “American Diplomacy.” Now, more than fifteen years later, the journal continues publication on a regular basis. It brings foreign affairs-related studies, articles, commentaries, and reviews to an audience numbering well over a hundred thousand annually.
The journal resulted from an idea of the two retired FSO’s named above. They had served together in Washington a few decades earlier and, it happened, retired in neighboring towns. Mattox and Crigler formulated the notion of an entirely electronic journal devoted to diplomacy and related questions featuring as much as possible the work of their colleagues. There would be no print runs at all. The concept seemed then, at least to them, markedly novel.
The founders approached the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the person of Dr. Richard Kohn, history professor and head of University-based Triangle Universities Security Studies, with which Dr. Mattox had been affiliated. (The organization later changed its name to the Triangle Institute for Security Studies.) This link permitted the journal’s access to the UNC computer network.
By late 1996, the originators of the new journal had launched the first edition. It has continued in operation ever since at www.americandiplomacy.org, with regular publication. Annual “hits” – Internet visits – by readers have totaled substantially over 200,000 for many years.
The highly informal organizational meeting that took place in 1996 was more or less concurrent with the issue of the journal’s first quarterly edition. (Since then it has changed from a quarterly to an Internet publication undergoing frequent renewal, article-by-article and subject-by-subject.) The “pioneer” 0rganizers confirmed Crigler as publisher and president of a newly constituted board of directors. He also performed the webmaster duties. Mattox, in addition to editing the journal, acted as board vice president and treasurer.
Other founding board members were the now-deceased Dr. Roy Melbourne and the late Carl Fritz. Additional colleagues in at the beginning (or very near the earliest days) were Ed Williams, who became the board secretary, and Bart Moon, who assumed the treasurer’s slot and eventually became publisher. Amb. Bill Dale later took on the presidential position and Curt Jones was an original board member. All were Foreign Service retirees.
In due course, the membership of the American Diplomacy governing board had a broader membership, importantly from academia, including Prof. Kohn, and the business sector.
The journal, reflecting its title and beginnings, continues to provide a range of views bearing importantly on foreign affairs, past and present. Its formal beginning, however, came about with earnest conversations about the proposal at a noontime gathering of a handful of Foreign Service retirees back in the fall of ’96.
And the rest is history. http://www.unc.edu www.americandiplomacy.org