ON September 18, 1999, The Fiji Times had a picture of United States naval ships at the Suva Harbour, and pictured with the captain of the ship was the then media liaison officer for the US Embassy in Fiji, Nirmal Singh.
Mr Singh was keen to share his experience when contacted last week.
"My career at the American Embassy in Fiji spanned from 1989 to 2007 — a total of some 17 years of my life given to the Government and people of the United States," Mr Singh said.
"Starting as a librarian in 1989 and rising to the position of Political and Public Affairs Specialist and at the time of my departure from the embassy, I was the most senior local staff and had the privilege of working with five different Ambassadors — both political and career appointees.
"My work at the embassy also required me to oversee trade and investment section of the embassy as well and most ambassadors came with their mandate to increase trade and investment between the two countries and as well as promote democracy, human rights and rule of law.
"With the closure of United States Information Agency in Fiji in 1995 I also assumed the role of public diplomacy specialist and became the embassy spokesman and public affairs adviser to the ambassador and other senior diplomatic staff, which was very challenging as it required me to assist in promoting US foreign policies with the host government and to ensure that US Government has warm and cordial relations with the countries we served.
"For most part of my career at the embassy I was the first point of contact for the people and at times had to deal with very sensitive political issues to ensure that we always sustained good and friendly relations regardless of issues at hand.
"I have gone through two coups in Fiji during my tenure at the embassy and as a political specialist I was always under lot of pressure to make sure I give the right advice to the embassy officials and at times I had to differ with the views of diplomats because I always had to take into consideration the local implications and I am proud to say that, for the most part, various ambassadors appreciated my views and agreed with my approach."
A Princeton PhD, was a US diplomat for over 20 years, mostly in Eastern Europe, and was promoted to the Senior Foreign Service in 1997. For the Open World Leadership Center, he speaks with
its delegates from Europe/Eurasia on the topic, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United." Affiliated with Georgetown University for over ten years, he shares ideas with students about public diplomacy.
The papers of his deceased father -- poet and diplomat John L. Brown -- are stored at Georgetown University Special Collections at the Lauinger Library. They are manuscript materials valuable to scholars interested in post-WWII U.S.-European cultural relations.
This blog is dedicated to him, Dr. John L. Brown, a remarkable linguist/humanist who wrote in the Foreign Service Journal (1964) -- years before "soft power" was ever coined -- that "The CAO [Cultural Affairs Officer] soon comes to realize that his job is really a form of love-making and that making love is never really successful unless both partners are participating."