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tv   American Artifacts U.S. Diplomacy Center Museum Collections - Part 2  CSPAN  January 5, 2021 3:43pm-4:23pm EST

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into being the collection has come into being and we are moving forward in partnership with the foundation to develop the exhibitions and public programs for the future museum continuing to collect artifacts and we are looking forward to opening to the public in a few years. >> the state department's u.s. state pavilion opened in 2017. the center uses programs, exhibits and artifacts to educate the public about diplomacy and they plan to eventually open the museum at the location. up next, in the second part of a two-part program we visit the storage area to see some of their 7,000 artifacts. curator katie speck art and historian allison mann continue the story of american diplomacy beginning with artifacts of the cold war. >> we are in the thick of the cold war now, the '50s and late '50s and there was some -- not
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so much thawing, but conversations. >> let's just say attempts. >> to exchange culture and understand each other better between the united states and the soviet union and so in 1959 there was this big exchange of national exhibitions. so the soviets sent their national exhibition to new york city in 1959 and so here's the exhibition booklet, and as you can see on the cover, they featured sputnik. >> gee, what message were they trying to send with that? so their exhibition covered sputnik and it also covered soviet industry and agriculture and cultural arts. >> fulfilling america's role as host, president eisenhower flew to washington for a preview tour in a last-minute decision. with vice president nixon he
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toured the elaborate show, all jovial despite the size of the crowd, almost a mob scene. ♪ >> it is the counterpart of the exhibition to be opened in moscow to be opened next month by mr. nixon. the cultural exchange and full-scale models are among the things russia is proudest of, legitimately impressive achievements exploited to the utmost here. >> not too long after that the united states sent their national exhibition to moscow, which was a huge hit to 2 million russian visitors came to the exhibition and this is a keepsake that was -- various things were handed out to the visitors and this is actually a little polaroid keepsake and the
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american exhibition covered polaroid technology. >> right. >> automobile technology and kitchen technology. and we know we heard a lot about the kitchen debates. >> indeed. >> do you want to talk about what was the kitchen debate? >> clearly, what's going on during these exhibitions is really this idea of which industry is better? capitalism or communism in terms of technology, and so one of the big features in moscow was an american kitchen. so there you have the translators who were working with president nixon and -- i'm sorry, vice president nixon and nikita khrushchev. so they were together in a ♪ ♪ >> vice president nixon escorts soviet premier khrushchev on the preview of skolniki park in moscow, counterpart of the soviet trade show in new york and dedicated to show casing the
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highest standard of life in our country, but on this occasion traditional diplomacy goes by the board. and it is eclipsed by a crackling exchange between nixon and khrushchev and beginning before the videotape recorders. every aspect of the cold war and american rivalry is argued in blunt and forthright terms. the threat of atomic warfare, diplomacy by ultimatum and economic progress. >> says mr. key, the soviet will overtake america and then wave bye-bye. [ speaking foreign language ] [ applause ] >> both khrushchev and nixon appeared to enjoy themselves. says kreesh of hekhrushchev. >> all that i can say by the way you talk and dominate the conversation you would have made a good lawyer yourself.
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>> but the culmination is agreements that both nations were here with the startling debate uncensored. >> with these reporters here, we have every word that you have said -- every word that you have said has been taken down, and i will promise you that every word that you have said here will be reported in the united states and they will see you say it on television. [ speaking foreign language ] >> certainly, it will. right. right. >> and at the same token, everything that i say will be
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recorded and translated and will be carried all over the soviet union. that's a fair bargain. [ applause ] >> one of those diplomats involved in this event of touring khrushchev and nixon through this exhibition was a foreign service officer named hans tuck, anzmryw;h actually worked for voice of america at the time. excellent russian language skills and so he was part of the entourage and even had the opportunity to provide some impromptu translation for khrushchev because his official translator got lost in the crush of people. that was a huge event that khrushchev and nixon were going through this exhibition and as allison mentioned on the flight back they inaugurated what they jokingly called the kitchen cabinet and you can see that picture you were mentioning of nixon pointing at khrushchev and
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that they even had a password for this exclusive club and in russian it means peace and friendship. and again, the language skills are so important for our diplomats. you never know when you might need to pull it out. and so we have some exchange in conversation going on in the midst of the cold war. and eventually things start to thaw. >> eventually. there is a recognition that the status quo cannot remain. and so during nixon's presidential administration, you start to see the s.a.l.t. talks between the soviets and the united states. during the reagan administration, this was a hire priority as well. this peace kind of speaks to that as well. in 1987, the united states and the soviets signed the int
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intermediate nuclear arms treaty. to limit how far the range of them. >> exactly. and so part of the imf, for short, treaty was witnessing elimination of certain classes of missiles. >> right. and this happened both here in the united states as well as in soviet territory. and so this piece tells a little bit about that story. and it's a beautiful piece. it's a -- diplomacy is an art form and it also inspires works of art such as this. and so as a result of the 1987 inf treaty, in 1990, in kazakhstan a diplomat named eileen maloy was the chief of the arms control section at u.s. embassy moscow. she was part of the diplomatic
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entourage that witnessed the elimination of the last of these missiles covered under the imf treaty. the missiles were laid out for display and measurement and verification and the entourage would go to a safe location and they were destroyed. and the soviet military had actually reserved some of the debris from previous elimination activity and contracted with a local businessman to create these fantastic little sculptures. and the soviets gave the sculptures to their american counterparts as a celebration of the last of the destruction of these missiles. you can see the soviet flag, the u.s. flag, and then this very interesting and quite beautiful, i think, actually, it's evocative of turning your swords
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into plowshares. what was once a weapon is now a beautiful piece of art. this is all happening between u.s. and russia as far as arms control systems, but berlin, germany, is still a divided city. >> very much so. >> and people are quite angry about that. >> indeed, they were. in 1961, almost overnight, a wall, a physical wall divided berlin and so this presented a challenge for the united states. they had an embassy in germany, but they still restrained the diplomatic presence with west germany. they had a minister over there. you can only have one ambassador in a country. we had a u.s. minister to west berlin to cover the national interest and also to protect american citizens over there. and so very quickly much to everyone's surprise, 1989, that
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wall started to come down. and, katy, do you want to speak about that particular minister. because they played a crucial role in that. >> sure. the night of november 9th, 1989, u.s. minister to berlin harry gilmore was actually -- what was called the allied chairman at the time and the chairmanship rotated monthly between the british -- among the british, the french and the u.s. and so the month of november was the u.s.'s turn. and so people started gathering at these checkpoints. word had gotten out that the checkpoints were open, that they could cross. berlin police were not prepared for this onslaught of people. and so the mayor of berlin -- and the checkpoints were actually still in russian territory. there was still a buffer zone, if you will, between the checkpoint that you cross through before you got into west
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berlin territory. and so the west berlin police needed permission to cross into that sector, to help out the east berlin police with this crush of people. and so harry gilmore, this was like an on-the-spot decision. normally protocol would call for him to consult with his counterparts and notify, but he gave permission on the spot for the west berlin police to help out with the crush of people. and, of course, you know, the wall came down. not too long later, germany was reunified. the u.s. embassy, which was in bahn was moved to berlin. this unique position of u.s. minister to berlin was no longer needed. and we have in the collection a wonderful flag. it's a unique flag. the position of u.s. minister is
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really a rarity, antiquated. and so this flag was presented to harry gilmore at the end of his tenure as u.s. minister to berlin and it has a wonderful inscription on the presentation box, that america saved the best for last with harry gilmore. as you can see in the image, it's an interesting flag because it has -- the great seal is in the middle. it's on a white field with blue stars surrounding the great seal. a u.s. ambassador's flag by comparison has the seal in the middle. it's a blue field with white stars around the great seal. and then for further comparison, the secretary of state's flag, great seal in the middle, blue field, but there are four stars, one in each corner of the flag. it's a wonderful representation of this unique time in u.s. history. so i think we'll bring out a few
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more artifacts. >> let's go. last segment we talked a lot about embassies being the site of refuge and asylum, but sometimes they're the site of political unrest and physical attacks. >> this little piece here up front is a segment of the sidewalk that surrounded the former u.s. embassy saigon in what is now u.s. consulate in ho chi minh city. and this piece was retrieved for us in 2003 as they were renovating the sidewalk and surrounding area. but that particular sidewalk has a pretty interesting history, actually, in -- for the u.s. embassy. >> and i think that's why our collection is fascinating. at first glance, it's a piece of concrete, what does it mean? in 1968, in the thick of the conflict with vietnam, the north
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vietnamese lost an offensive on the vietnamese holiday of the new year. entirely unexpected. traditionally it had been a day of truce. they blew a hole into the compound of the embassy. there was a wall surrounding it. they planted a bomb there and blew a hole in it and forces were able to enter the courtyard putting u.s. diplomats in extreme danger but they were held in the courtyard. they never made it inside the embassy and were finally driven out by helicopter reinforcements coming in. but the diplomats inside were brave. they kept up the line of communication with the united states during that whole time. they never left their posts. and the gentleman who retrieved that, he has a very interesting narrative about going there in 2003 and noticed they were ripping up the sidewalk and that is actually right near where the hole was blown into the embassy compound. >> right. and as the gentleman who
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retrieved the sidewalk for us pointed out that this attack kind of spilled out into the streets as well. there were security guards and military forces fighting on the sidewalks and in the street as well. so, you know, items like this in an artifact collection are called site elements. it's a very interesting way to really evoke a time and a place and couple that with imagery and footage of the time. it can tell a powerful story. >> especially since the embassy no longer exists. it points you to thinking about that sense of place. >> continuing in vietnam, so that was 1968 when that attack happened. and so in the early 1970s, our diplomats were there at the embassy continuing, you know, in the midst of the conflict that was occurring, trying to do their best to assist their military counterparts. and there's a lot of political
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relationships that our u.s. diplomats needed to understand as well which can be pretty complicated. and so one enterprising embassy political officer thought to create a chart, to be able to track who's who and who's married to who, who's the cousin of who. so he went down to the mailroom and got this piece of brown mailing paper, tacked it up on the wall in his office, and started with the vietnamese president and started charting out his political family relations as well as some of the interrelations with his prime minister as well. and this chart became pretty handy tool and popular among his fellow officers and when he left vietnam and came back to washington, d.c., for his next post, this chart was left in the embassy for the use by his colleagues as they continued
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there. and thankfully this survived and it almost didn't. >> it almost didn't. in 1975, of course, south vietnam, you know, completely collapsed and so the american embassy was very hastily evacuated. there are very iconic figures of helicopters landing on the roof and a lot of south vietnamesejo citizens attempting to board that helicopter. you have to make a snap decision on what to take with you. what's the weight of the helicopter? but this family chart was one of the things that an american diplomat grabbed and so here we have it today. >> right. it was salvaged. and the political officer who created it had no idea. and his colleague weeks later after the evacuation, you know, surprised him, walking into his office at the department of state and handed this over to him much to his surprise that it
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survived the evacuation. >> i think it was actually a smart thing to do because there was so much fear of reprisals from the south vietnamese when the north vietnamese entered. this would have given a road map to any()iszv kind of political connection t connection. so i'm sure there was a lot of thought put into saving this document. crises continued in the 1970s and there was a lot going on in iran in the late 1970s. a lot of protests. >> a lot of protests. in 1979, the islamic state was created, you know, after much political violence and unrest. of course, putting the americans who were serving there as diplomats in grave danger. and it all came to a head after the shah of iran, he sought islam in the united states of america to seek medical treatment. he was suffering from cancer and
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president carter permitted the shah to come to the united states which greatly angered the political leaders in iran. >> absolutely. and so that anger boiled over and ultimately one day in november, 1979, the u.s. embassy was overrun. and the u.s. diplomats who happened to be there in the building at the time were taken hostage and they were there held hostage for a total of 442 days, 5 52 american diplomats in total. we know something of their treatment, and it was not that great. they were blindfolded. they were interrogated, they were beaten. and we are very privileged to have this cloth, really, it's just a cloth. but it was used as a blindfold on economic officer robert
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bluker and the takeover of the agency happened to coincide with his first full day on the job. so what a day -- what a first day on the job. >> welcome to your job. >> right. and on the second day he was beaten and about a month later he was called out for interrogation and he said he was blindfolded in a cold room for six hours and he could hear the clicking sounds of his captors' rifles in the background. this blindfold came to us from a friend of his. we know the end of the story. they were ultimately freed. and once he returned to freedom, he was visiting some friends and gave this blindfold to his friend as kind of a thank you gift for hosting him. and he said, oh, just wash it. and luckily this friend did not. and she treated it like a relic and it ultimately ended up in
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our collection and we consider it really a treasure of the collection. >> very much so. >> there's so many stories surrounding the embassy takeover. >> because not everybody was held for 444 days. >> there were some that escaped out the back door of the consulate and they ultimately became known as the canadian six because these six americans found shelter with the canadian embassy, ken taylor, as well as the canadian console general and they were their house guests for about three months before the cia was able to successfully extricate them from the country. and we have, as you see in the image, a pair of fake eyeglasses and this was part of the costume of -- that was given to one of the canadian six. she -- her name was kathleen stafford. and the cia agents provided
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costumes and fake personas and fake documents. they had to really take on and memorize these cover stories to be able to successfully pass through the revolutionary guards at the tehran airport. and so these fake eyeglasses are a wonderful reputation of that successful extrication. >> we have two sides of the story, right. someone who was held and then some who made it out. >> some who made it out. in addition we also have items that show kind of the end of the story, the welcome home. the 52 hostages were released on january 31st, 1981, the day after ronald reagan's inauguration. they were showered with gifts. we have a button that was a gift to ann swiss. ann was one of the two women that were part of that 52 held
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captive. and the button celebrates their welcome home and also incorporates two -- or incorporates a yellow ribbon. as we know the yellow ribbon campaign was started by some of the family members to show solidarity and it really caught hold throughout the nation. >> remains today. bring them home. >> exactly. the embassies are still targets. >> still targets. >> unfortunately. >> and in 1998 there was a surprise attack in the continent of africa. it was a coordinated attack. we know this was an al qaeda attack on the embassy in tanzania and the embassy in kenya. we have a couple of items, unfortunately, from that tragic event that i think are highly personalized. we get a sense of the person and what it was -- what it was like to be there during that traumatic time. but also how professional our american diplomats were under these circumstances. >> absolutely. i can't imagine anything, you know, more traumatizing than,
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you know, your office building, basically, being -- >> you're in a meeting and -- >> exploding. >> exactly. >> and the u.s. ambassador to kenya, on the morning of the attack, she was in a meeting with the kenyan minister of commerce and his office was quite close to the embassy, just according the parking lot, really, and so she and some department of commerce colleagues were upstairs at the meeting -- >> when we heard a noise, which we subsequently learned was a stun grenade, there were about eight people in the room at the time and most of them got up to walk to the window to see what it was all about. that, in fact, was the purpose of the stun grenade, was to bring people to the windows. i was thrown back. i was unconscious for just a few
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minutes. the ceiling came in. and i thought i was going to die. and it was a feeling i will never forget. this is it. i'm going to die. but i didn't. as i went down 21 flights of stairs with one of my department of commerce colleagues, i kept thinking, i just need to get out of this building, back to my embassy, into the medical unit, and i will be all right. it was when we exited the building and i saw the charred remains of once was what human beings, looked up and saw that my embassy was destroyed, that i realized there was no medical unit to go to. and i was going to have to take charge. >> she was injured on her head and she very graciously has
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donated the suit that she was wearing on that day. and you can see the bloodstains that still remain on the suit from that horrible morning. and so the embassy building, the chancellery was completely destroyed as were some of the surrounding buildings. and as embassy employees were able to go back and retrieve their parked car, you can imagine, just the chaos of the scene, one embassy employee found this chunk of the building in the backseat of her car. it had blown through the back window from the explosion. and in addition, ambassador bushnell gave us this personalized hard hat. the day after the attack, she wanted to go back and tour the site, see really what happened, offer her love and sympathy to people dealing with this, and so
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embassy staff, you know, in a show of love and support to her personalized this hard hat with the word "ambassador" and a gold great seal sticker for her to wear when she was touring the site. >> when you mention embassy staff. it's not just americans who are working this embassy, we have foreign service nationals. and these foreign service nationals, they are natives of the country and they often work there for 20 or 30 years. and they will develop a very close relationship with the americans who come and especially the ambassadors. and so i think clearly this mutual sign of affection and appreciation, the fact that she was so severely injured, she came back the next day to show her concern for the people of that nation and what a strong bond that is and that embassy family. >> excellent point, yes. >> katie, why don't we bring out gifts to the secretaries. when the secretaries travel, they're given gifts of appreciation to show that mutual respect. >> yeah.
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so this medallion here was a gift to a delegation of japanese diplomats way back in 1860. and so diplomatic gift-giving is a wonderfully long tradition and americans absolutely took part in this tradition going back to the 19th century. >> very much so. and so the story of this kind of opening up of trade with japan is fascinating. the chinese had by not their own accord forced into trading with the western powers and the japanese were very much concerned about that they wanted to keep their own sovereignty. in the 1850s they began welcoming communication with other nations and signed a treaty with the united states. it was called the treaty of amorty and commerce. the japanese signed and of course the american president had to sign it. that was the reason for the
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delegation. they referred to them as the embassy. so it was three very high-level s sam samoris who came and we have this photograph taken by matthew brady of the entire japanese enemies. and th embassies. and they went to smithsonian and congress and they had an elegant dinner in the east room in the white house. but they were not quite happy with what they ate because they were served rice with sugar and butter on it. nowadays, we have that understanding and you wouldn't offer them that. it was considered to be a successful visit. upon their last meeting with then-president buchannan, he gave them what was gold coins that had been engraved by a
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gentleman who worked at the mint came up with this design. and then a number of these were struck at the time to commemorate the visit. >> right. you can see the profile here of president buchannan and on the reverse commemorates the visit. it says in commemoration of the first embassy from japan to the ióq1860d embassy meaning -- >> that's fascinating. people. >> delegation -- >> not a physical embassy. >> not the actual building. our secretaries of state travel a big part of their time in office and meeting with their foreign counterparts. and part of those meetings and trips involve an exchange of gifts and our secretary works closely with the office of protocol to arrange the giving and receiving. >> they can't keep them. >> they can't keep them all the
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time. and so the diplomacy center has a number of examples of gifts to secretaries of state in the collection and they're wonderful pieces that have great stories behind them including this pearl inlay box which was a gift to secretary baker in 1991 by a gift from the mayor of bethlehem. >> so bethlehem is in palestinian territory, considered to be an important ancient city and diplomatic relations with the arab world had been strainedm+?r after the creation of israel and throughout the 1960s and 1970s. american presidents and secretaries were kind of preoccupied with associating between egypt and israel which was eventually solved during the carter administration. when ronald reagan became president and then his successor, h.w. bush, they were focused on this palestinian conflict. and so this was very important
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that not only was it given in bethlehem in palestinian territory, it was an important shift in thinking about american foreign policy and how they could mediate this settlement between the israelis and also the palestinians. >> so this particular box came with a personalized note to secretary baker and it's from the mayor of bethlehem and you can see that he writes "welcome to bethlehem, we pray that secretary of state mr. baker will succeed in helping us to have peace between palestinians and israelis," and it's dated march 12th, 1991. >> continuing with priorities here, during the clinton administration, extreme broke
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out in sara ereyavo. the dayton accords ended that war but the region was very much still on the focus of the administration. it was a hot spot and secretary of state madeleine albright was aware of what was going on in the region. >> she was. and so she managed the response in coordination with some of her foreign minister counterparts. she held an almost daily conference call with these foreign ministers and she later termed it conference call diplomacy to help manage this conflict. and they coordinated and worked quite well together. and at the end of secretary albright's tenure, in january 2001, she and her conference
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call diplomacy counterparts gathered for dinner in paris to celebrate the end of secretary albright's tenure and of course she was presented with gifts as it were. and so this spectacular russian porcelain set, coffee set, was a gift by the russian foreign minister. and as you can see, on each of the cups is the image of albright and her foreign minister counterparts. and these include igor of russia, robin cook of the united kingdom, hubert of france, fisher of germany, axworthy of canada and the foreign minister of italy. they didn't stop there with the faces. they doved these -- this group
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madeleine and her dream team of foreign ministers. as you can see engraved on the services tray. >> what's so interesting, katie, as well, madeleine albright is the first woman secretary of state and so this is very much a gendered gift. >> you have her male counterparts. >> but it is a gift to a woman secretary of state and as visitors come to the diplomacy center, we have gifts on display, i think that will very much be apparent. >> the art of diplomatic gift-giving involves trying to figure out who the person is, what are their likes, what might they be interested. at the same time, what represents me and my country, how can i represent my culture, the natural resources of my country, the art and artisans of my country as well and i think this set does that magnificently. >> so we have been actively
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building this artifact collection for many years now and we're at about 7,500 items in our collection. and this collection is truly unique to the nation. there is no other institution in the nation that is solely focused on collecting diplomacy. these objects really would have nowhere else to go and would be somewhat lost to history and with the diplomacy museum, we can really bring these stories to life through these fascinating objects and their appeal and the many fascinating people and events behind these objects. >> and also in part of our outreach, we travel around the united states quite a bit and most americans do know that they can go to the state department to get a passport, but they don't really quite understand sometimes, you know, the function of the state department and what do american foreign service officers do. and so they will learn all of
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these stories, they'll be able to see the wonderful objects and -- >> what is diplomacy? who does it? and why does it matter is really the key question to answer throughout every exhibition, why is this history relevant to everyday americans and what have our diplomats done, what are they doing today, and what have they done to promote security and our national interests abroad. >> this was the second of a two-part look at the u.s. diplomacy center museum collections. you can view part 1 and all other american history tv programs at c-span.org/history. you're watching american history tv. every weekend on c-span3, explore our nation's past. american history tv on c-span3, created by america's cable television companies and today we're brought to you by these
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television companies who provide american history tv to viewers as a public service. the north atlantic treaty organization was founded on april 4th, 1949, with 12 members. the atlantic community is a series of 20-minute films produced between 1954 and 1956 and financed by the u.s. government. the films were designed to familiarize member countries with the culture, history, industries, tourist attractions and military contributions of their nato partners. next on "reel america," introducing france. ♪

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