Submission Call– In the Line of Fire: American Diplomacy in a Dangerous World

Charles Ray, a 30 year Foreign Service veteran who previously served as U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe (October 2009August 2012) and Cambodia (December 2002July 2005) has a new book project that FS folks may be interested in.  Below via:

I am currently working with the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) on updating a book on “Diplomacy in a Dangerous World.”  To that end, I am seeking stories from Foreign Service Officers (active and retired), their families, former Marine Security Guards, and other people who have served in U.S. diplomatic establishments abroad regarding the sometimes hazardous situations American diplomats face on a daily basis as they perform their vital missions.

The working title of the book I plan to write is “In the Line of Fire:  American Diplomacy in a Dangerous World.”  I plan to structure it as follows:

  1.  Embassies under attack:  stories of attacks on diplomatic establishments from the point of view of those who were inside the facilities.
  2. Off-duty danger:  stories of hazardous situations faced by our diplomats in their countries of assignment even when not on duty.
  3. Not all danger is physical:  in addition to the dangers of physical attack, our diplomats face moral, ethical, and emotional dilemmas continually.  I would like to include a section in the book on the non-physical crises these people deal with.
  4. The ultimate sacrifice:  no story of the dangers our diplomatic personnel face would be complete without a tribute to those who have lost their lives while serving abroad.

If you have a story that you’d like to share, or you know of someone who has, please contact me at  You can either provide a brief synopsis of the story, including the names of those involved, or the story itself either in the body of or as an attachment to your email.  If you have clear digital images, and the rights to their distribution, I would also be happy to look at them.

Most people in the U.S. are unaware of the dangers our diplomats face, except on those occasions when something terrible happens and it appears in the press.  I hope, through this book, to fill in the blanks and show that it’s not just the incidents like the terrible tragedy at Benghazi, but that it is a part of the everyday life of an American diplomat.

Ambassador Ray’s other books are available at here.

domani spero sig

Burn Bag Submissions Accepted: Because It’s Cheaper Than Therapy

We have started a new “Burn Bag” on this blog’s left sidebar, because well, to borrow an FS blogger’s excuse, it is cheaper than therapy. We were actually fascinated with PostSecret but that’s already taken.  So…

Besides, how do you mail a secret post card through your pouch or APO/FPO mail without the embassy mail clerk reading your post card?  That will be exceptionally hard.


Image via Posts Secret Community

Anyway, we came up with our own “Burn Bag” corner.

A burn bag, as you may or may not know is an informal name given to a paper bag or some other waste container that holds sensitive or classified documents which are to be destroyed by fire.

Um, nooooo, we’re not talking about national security secrets in our burn bag corner, so banish that thought!

We’re talking about “I’m feeling blue, I want to scream” things that you can’t even put on your blog or tell your friends because — admit it, you live in a very large fishbowl.

And because we want to help you preserve your anonymity, here are some helpful tips if you want to contribute to the “Burn Bag.”

    • Use this Contactify link to send us an email. Do not repeat do not give us your real name, or real email ( works). We don’t want to know.  But do include “burn bag” on the subject line. Contactify forwards the email to our designated email address.
    • Another option is to send us your submission via AnonEmail run by You may address it to: burnbag[at]nyms[dot]net. You do not need to provide an email address but we request that you include “Burn Bag” on the subject field to help us sort it out from our regular mail.  Note that your anonymous e-mail will also be randomly delayed up to 12 hours.
    • Submissions cannot have personally identifiable information for obvious reasons. Text submission should be succinct and brief. We’re flexible with length but think not much longer than tweets. If you decide to send a digital image, please make it no larger than the equivalent pixels for a 5×7 image.
    • By submitting information to the “Burn Bag” corner, you grant us the right to use the information at our sole discretion without compensation or additional permission. We also reserve the right to select, reject, edit or arrange submissions at our sole discretion.

That’s it. Surprise us!

domani spero sig

Updated on April 17 to clarify mandatory anonymity for submissions.