"Dean's memoir, to be published in May for the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training Memoir Series by New Academia Publishing under its Vellum imprint, has been read and approved for publication by the State Department with only very minor changes, none affecting Dean's major points. Its underlying theme is that American diplomacy should be pursued in American interests, not those of another country, however friendly. A Jew whose family fled the Holocaust, Dean resented what he saw as an assumption, including by some in Congress, that he would promote Israel's interests in his ambassadorial work.
Dean, a fluent French speaker who began his long diplomatic career opening American missions in newly independent West African nations in the early 1960s, served later in Vietnam (where he described himself as a "loyal dissenter") and was ambassador in Cambodia (where he carried out the American flag as the Khmer Rouge advanced), Denmark, Lebanon, Thailand (where Chas Freeman was his deputy) and India. He takes credit for averting bloodshed in Laos in the 1970s by negotiating a coalition government shared by communist and noncommunist parties.
He was sometimes a disputatious diplomat not afraid to contradict superiors, and he often took–and still holds–contrarian views. He always believed, for example, that the United States should have attempted to negotiate with the Khmer Rouge rather than let the country be overrun by their brutal horror.
As ambassador in India in the 1980s he supported then-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's policy of seeking some kind of neutral coalition in Afghanistan that would keep the American- and Pakistani-armed mujahedeen from establishing a fundamentalist Islamic state." The Nation
I watched Ambassador Dean "fence" with the Joint Chiefs in the "tank" (the JCS conference room) when he was doing Washington meetings before going to India as ambassador.
He wanted them to give him a brigadier general as head of the military mission in Delhi. He wanted a true South Asia specialist for the job (we have those). They were willing to give him a general, but not willing to give him a South Asia specialist for the job. The reason? It would have been necessary to promote a specialist colonel to brigadier general and the army chief of staff was unwilling to do that. The general said that he would give Dean a specialist colonel to be the brigadier general's deputy (the implication being that the colonel would do the work and the non-specialist brigadier general would be an acceptable establishment representative). Dean argued hard against this, sayng as tactfully as he could manage that a boss who does not understand the work is always a problem. It was smoother than that. In the end he got tired of begging for common sense and fell silent. The army chief of staff was quite pleased with himself. We all know who he was, Cotton Mather with four stars.
John Gunther Dean was one of the best career diplomats we have had. pl