DIPLOMARINE

Diplomarine PREVIEW & REVIEWS

Preview

Marine Corps: In his first chapter, “In the Beginning”, Brown comments on his first adventure as a Marine, boot camp: “I was ready to join in the fun and games, cleaning toilets, raking dirt in an orderly fashion and learning how to sleep with the disassembled pieces of our M-1 rifles without having its sharpest piece… end up in the wrong aperture of our anatomy.”
1
Reno, Nevada, 1953 – House at the top of the hill
2
Reno, Nevada, 1954 – Marine Ball, author second from right
In his second chapter, “The Importance of Being Stupid”, he describes how he accidentally became a Central America expert: He [the Sergeant Major] clearly thought I was out of my mind. But since I was the only graduate of Marine Security Guard School ever to volunteer for Managua he agreed, because, as he so kindly responded, “Why not reward stupidity?”

Managua, Nicaragua: On his first overseas post, in his Chapter 4, “Harvesting the Fruits of Imperialism”, Brown describes an incident in Managua that ignited his life-long passion for diplomacy: “[Ambassador] Whelan taught me my first major lesson in cutting-edge foreign policy implementation when he told President Luis Somoza of Nicaragua, “Goddamn it, Louie, that’s pura mierda. I don’t give a shit if the @#*ing Hondurans did start the @#*ing war! You get your @#*ing troops off the border or I’m going to shove a battalion of Marines right up your ass!”

1
2
On the left, the 1958 Marine Corp Birthday Ball in Managua, Nicaragua. The handsome Marine Sergeant standing behind the beautiful young lady is the author. The young lady is his Costa Rican bride of two months, Leda. The Gunnery Sergeant standing to his right, Ralph Whitman, was killed in an automobile accident not long after this picture was taken. On the right, his bride Leda is using their first washing machine (author's collection).

Guatemala: On a temporary assignment as a body-guard for the American Ambassador to Guatemala, in his Chapter 7, “There Be Dragunovs!”, Brown introduces the all but unbelievable experiences that were eventually to link his three careers together: “Fast forward: Forty-odd years later in Mexico City in June of 2000….a tall, slender Nicaraguan named Noel Guerrero Santiago was to give me his oral history. What Guerrero told me blew my mind…”
 
1
2
On the left, Mexico City, June 22, 2001 – Noel Guerrero Santiago,  “Che” Guevara’s confidential aide, guerrilla warfare expert and the original leader of Nicaragua’s FSLN Sandinista Liberation Front and. Perhaps, a COMINTERN agent since the 1940s . On the right, Caracas, Venezuela, 1979 – Plutarco Hernandez Sancho, the Sandinista Front’s Comandante Marcial (his bride’s next-door-neighbor in Costa Rica, and a post-Cold War friend of the author) in Caracas as a representative of the Sandinista Front at an international donors conference (author’s collection).                    

In between Marine enlistments, in his Chapter 8, “The Bay of Pigs: A Love Story”, Brown describes dodging a job offer that could easily have ended his life of foreign affairs before it even began: “ If I’d accepted, my next visit to Cuba would have taken place at Playa Jirón, better known as the Bay of Pigs. Given how that turned out, I made the right decision. Since then I’ve visited Playa Jirón several time. It’s probably the worst place in Cuba to make an amphibious landing. A better name for it would be Suicide Swamp.”

Thailand: By now re-enlisted in the Marines and trained as a Thai language Intelligence Linguist, in his Chapter 9, “Thailand - Into the Realm of COIN”, Brown describes his baptism into the world of counter-insurgency: “While with the 1st ITT, my life among the more restless natives of this planet really began to roll. There were interesting wars underway all over the region, some of which the media knew about.”
1
Mindoro, 1962 – Village hut
2
Thailand, 1962 –Buddhist temple
1
Hawaii, 1963 – 1st ITT Hawaii, 1963 – 1st ITT
2
Monterey, California – Leda with Barbara
In Chapter 12, “3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade”, Brown hints at the extraordinary life he lived as a Thai Intelligence Linguist and, implicitly what it cost his wife, Leda, and their growing family that stayed behind, “A jeep is on its way to pick you up. You’re leaving on an assignment.” “For how long?” I asked. “We don’t know. Less than an hour later I was holding a sealed set of Secret/Eyes Only orders.”
1
2
3
Udorn, Thailand, 1962 on the left, a snapshot of King of Thailand taken by the author as His Majesty arrived to visit 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade. In the center, the author, on the left is interpreting for the Thai Police Regional Commanding General and the American Ambassador to Thailand, Kenneth Todd Young. The photo on the right was taken while the author, center, was with an archeological mission near Sakhon Nakhon. Dr. Wilhelm “Bill” Solheim is standing bare-chested on right. Chet Gorman on left. Then a graduate student and later famed for work on the wind caves in the Salween River basin of Burma (now Myanmar).
1
2
On left, 1964, Remote Site Tango, in Petchabun mountains, Northeast Thailand – This Thai army schema of Remote Site Tango was given to the author in appreciation of his serving as interpreter for U.S. and Thai security personnel during a visit to this site by the King of Thailand.  On the right, a plaintive unclassified  memo from his commanding officer, Capt. Cohen, asking “where the hell are you, what are you doing, and when will you be back.” Given the nature of his mission, the author had to respond, ”Sorry sir, can’t tell you.”


In Chapter 14, “Whore Houses, Labor Relations, and Coca Cola”, he describes a traumatic incident that still haunts his dreams: “Four or five children, the oldest about the age of my oldest daughter, were lying against the walls, several with broken legs and backs bound with ropes in positions that guaranteed they would be crippled permanently. “

From the Marines, via a senior year at the University of Nevada, Reno, during which he worked as a waiter in John Ascuaga’s Sparks Nugget to support his family, Brown becomes a career Foreign Service Officer.
In his Chapters 18 and 19, he relates two of his most amusing experiences as a Foreign Service Officer at his first post in Tel Aviv, Israel. In Chapter 18, “The Prophet and the Stripper”, Brown remembers the Prophet, one of his American citizen charges, “I remember asking Hallelujah if he didn’t think it was improper for a prophet to be living with a stripper. “Not at all,” he responded. “God sent me to help sinners, and she’s the biggest sinner I know.” In chapter 19, “Essence of a Thousand Armpit”, he says of another of his charges, “John of the Armpits” smelled pretty much like anyone would if they’d been sweating profusely for months without taking a bath or changing clothes.”
 
On the left, Tel Aviv, Israel, 1966 – the author’s friend Hallelujah. On the right, Kfar Shmaryahu, Israel, 1966  – The author and his  family dressed for church.

Now in Madrid, Spain on his second diplomatic assignment, in his Chapter 20, “Who the Hell is Paul Laxalt?”, he mentions the price he paid for being from Nevada, “The Ambassador asked me bluntly, “Who the hell is Paul Laxalt?’ He’s the Governor of Nevada, sir.” “Do you have any idea what that son of a bitch just did?” No Sir, Mr. Ambassador, Sir.”
On the left, Senator Laxalt – Some years later, the Senator sent the author this dedicated photo in appreciation for his service elsewhere. For a Nevadan like the author, being labelled “A real Nevada Pro” by another Nevada Pro, is the ultimate accolade. On Spain, 1967 – On the right, the author and his wife wait for some of Fraga Iribarne’s paella to be served.


While in Madrid he volunteered to serve in war-torn Vietnam. In his Chapter 22, “Vietnam: My First Diplo-war”, he comments on the futility of fighting wars you do not really understand. “…and, as early as it may sound, by 1963 I’d concluded that we were going to lose the Vietnam War, not on the battlefield, but in the streets and on college campuses at home. The American people simply do not have the will to fight prolonged hot wars anywhere.”

In his Chapter 24, “My Two Korean Wars”, he describes some of the horrors of that war, “We began seeing body parts floating in the stream. Admittedly, it was a bit sickening. But I would have felt worse if I hadn’t seen what the VC had done to the baby of one of my village chiefs just a few days earlier.”

Ninh Hoa, Vietnam, 1968. On the left, author calling artillery fire against Viet Cong positions in the nearby mountains. In the center, he is practicing his diplomatic skills with a rifle. On the right, Salvadoran Faribundo Marti (FMLN) insurgents in Hanoi with their North Vietnam instructors at approximately the same time the author was in South Vietnam (courtesy of FMLN commander  Ferman Cienfuegos).


In Chapter 25, “Phoenix”, he suggest that some things can be so ludicrous they can make you laugh, even in the midst of a war, “Other images remain vivid - the portable crapper local officials mounted on the open bed of a three-quarter-ton truck for then President Ngo Dinh Diem’s use during a visit to Ninh Hòa on the off chance he might want to drop his drawers and take a dump before the masses.”

In his Chapter 26, “Exiting Vietnam—Lessons Learned”, Brown describes some conclusions he reached, “By 1967 the [Vietnam] war had deteriorated into a rather desperate attempt to defeat an exceptionally well-entrenched insurgency with a hybrid or, more precisely, bastardized civilian and military mixture of guns, butter, and bullshit.”

Mexico: From Vietnam he’s off to Mexico. In Chapter 27, “Mérida—La Ciudad Blanca”, Brown describes just one of the hundreds of hazards he and his family faced during his service abroad, “The local Director of Public Health delicately explained to me soon after we arrived, ‘if feces were florescent, Mérida wouldn’t need electric lights.’”

And in his Chapter 29, “Alarums and Excursions—and Shrimp”, he notes that, even in the most unlikely places, diplomats runs risks, “It sounded more dangerous than Vietnam—board a shrimper full of drunken sailors and prostitutes, relieve the Captain, and order the crew to sail the boat back to the United States without me aboard.”

Paraguay: Some years later, now assigned to Asuncion, Paraguay, Brown has yet more experiences, four of which he relates in his chapters 30, 31, 32 and 35, and introduces to his readers to the amazing realities of some of diplomacy’s stranger charms.

In “Paraguay—Big Rivers, Bigger Egos”, his Chapter 30, he describes Stroessner-era Paraguay as, “A veritable snake pit of intrigues, jealousies, backroom machinations, plots, counterplots, and corruption and an economic system was crawling with smugglers, money launderers and drug traffickers. It was just my kind of place!”

On the left, Villa Hayes, Paraguay, the ceremony accepting a copy of the arbitration decision by President Rutherford B. Hayes that led to its being named Villa Hayes. The author is the one standing on the left wearing a moustache and silly grin while American Ambassador Landau is the tallest gentleman on the far right, while the author’s son, Timothy Patrick, holds the U.S. flag. On the right, the author is in Sapucai, his favorite agricultural village, riding herd on some of Paraguay’s biggest “non-export.”


In his Chapter 31, “Nixon, Stroessner and the French Connection”, he relates one of the most bizarre experiences of his entire diplomatic career that took place when he was serving as the interpreter of a personal emissary that had been sent to Paraguay by President Nixon, “I held my left hand up in [President] Stroessner’s face, my right in the face of President Nixon’s august spokesman, smiled, apologized abjectly - and sat down on the floor. After all, what else was I to do?”

In 32, “Fat Colonels, Mau Maus, and Chilean Blonds”, he suggest one reason for some of his successes, “Being a strong believer in the Eleanor Parker theory of seduction, ’Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker’, I began by inviting some of them to our home and getting them drunk.”

In Itaipu: The $19 Billion Dam, his Chapter 35, Brown comments on his efforts to “sell America”, “One especially colorful TV commentator said, using sweeping hand and arm gestures to emphasize his point,  ‘The Brazilians shoved it right up our ass - all the way to the elbow. And they didn’t even use Vaseline!’”. 
Asuncion, Paraguay - On the right, Ambassador Landau, Enzo Debernardi, Paraguay’s chief negotiator of Itaipu treaty is in the center, while half of the author is on far right.
San Salvador, El Salvador, 1975 – This unexpected photo, dedicated to the author by Paraguayan President Stroessner, reached him via the Paraguayan Ambassador to El Salvador a number of months after he left Paraguay.


Amsterdam: Now in Amsterdam via El Salvador, in his Chapters 39 and 40, Brown introduces both the delights and horrors a diplomat finds, even in a paradise. First, the delights: In chapter 39, “Wooden Shoes, Wooden Policies”, he first describes the good life, “First a free noon concert, and then to the Van Gogh or Rembrandt for a light lunch among the masterpieces, complete with a glass of wine or, better yet, a raw herring taco—with lots of onions.”
North Holland, the Netherlands. Author and family dressed in traditional Dutch attire. Left to right, daughters Tamara and Rebecca, Leda (seated), the author, who still has his moustache, is standing next to his daughter Barbara, listening to his son Timothy Patrick play an accordion.


Then, in chapter 40, “Terror in the Tulips”, the horrors,  “When Leda picked up the phone a male voice said to her in Dutch-accented English, ‘I see your husband just left for work. So the children will be leaving on their bicycles for school in a few minutes, and you will be alone, won’t you?’ The caller was a bona fide, convicted terrorist“.

Returning to Washington, DC, Brown goes on to describe some of his more memorable experiences while serving inside the State Department. In Chapter 41 on his years as Paraguay-Uruguay Desk Officer, “Turf Wars—The Office of Pariah States”, Brown discusses the inevitable clashes of interests inherent in the policy making process, “We spent so much of our time working on issues related to political prisoners, torture, disappearances, and so forth that we privately called it the Office of Pariah States.”

In “Croat Terrorists and the Nazi Death Doctor”, his Chapter 42, he describes one of the most bizarre incidents he had to handle during that assignment,  “The Paraguayan Ambassador’s chauffeur-bodyguard turned out to be a Croatian terrorist with a black belt in karate who was in the United States under a false name on a Paraguayan diplomatic passport.”

Having moved on to become the Deputy Director of European Economic/Political Affairs, where he’s involved with some high strategy issues, in his Chapter 43, “Crude, Crud, and Cuba”, he comments that, “In case of an all-out war it would be irrational for Castro to take on NATO or the United States. But Castro had proven during the Cuba Missile Crisis that he was perfectly capable of acting irrationally.”

By now Deputy for Cuban Affairs, he becomes involved in some of the most highly politically partisan matters of the day. In his Chapter 44, “Cubanisimo!”, once again politics, policies and his Nevada connections clash, this time at the highest level. Speaking on behalf of President Reagan, Senator Laxalt of Nevada calls him to say, “We need ideas and someone to help push them through. Only two limits. No one can get hurt and what we do shouldn’t cost any money.’ They weren’t exactly looking for some Kabuki Theater, but it was close.”

In “Rum, Coke, and the Eternal Embargo”, his Chapter 45, Brown comments on arguably the hottest issue in US-Cuba relations, one he’s now responsible for handling on a daily basis, the Cuba Embargo, “The Cuba Embargo is a sterling example of myth trumping truth… an important part of my job was to review and approve export licenses.”

In this Chapter, he also includes three once highly classified, since declassified documents. One, a Confidential Department of Defense memorandum on Radio Marti suggests its potential as a psychological warfare platform. The other two are classified cables he wrote, one a Secret/EXDIS cable to US Ambassador to Japan Mansfield concerning Cuban nickel and the other a Confidential cable to the Embassy in Mexico threatening to label PEMEX, Mexico’s national oil company, as an “Enemy Agent.”
In “Doing the Guantanamo Flip-Flop”, his Chapter 46, Brown can’t resist commenting on what is still a hot topic, untried prisoners languishing in American prisons. “When Reagan assumed the presidency, some 2,746 unconvicted Marielitos were languishing in American prisons by edict of Carter. When I became Deputy for Cuban Affairs, I found all 2,746 of them sitting right on top of my in-box.”

The French Caribbean: From Cuba Affairs, Brown is assigned as Consul General in Martinique, arguably the United States’ oldest diplomatic presence abroad, where he’s responsible for handling the bilateral relations between the United States and three provinces of France, each part of both the European Union and the Americas, an assignment much hotter politically than he could ever have anticipated.

There was terrorism: In Chapter 47 – “Martinique Magnifique—America’s French Caribbean Mistress” he reports his first, but far from last, brush with terrorism in the Caribbean, “Leda and I were awakened by a large explosion. Rolling over, we said to each other almost simultaneously, ‘Bet that was the Consulate.’ Then the French Gendarmes called and asked politely, ‘Monsieur le Consul General, would you care to see what just happened to your Consulate?’”

There were mini-wars: When the United States invades nearby Grenada, everything changes. In Chapter 48, “Invading France”, Brown finds himself involved in an, until then, unheard of joint military operation – at the request of the French. “[The tiny island of] Marie-Galante was fast becoming a royal, post-Grenada pain in the ass for the French, thanks to the Mayor of its largest town, Gran Bourg. So the French Prefet called me to ask if we would be so kind as to join the French Army in invading the damn place and scare the living crap out of him.”

Even politics: By Chapter 49, “The Ambassador, the Battleship, and My Posterior Anatomy, he’s ginning up shows of support for France’s position in the Caribbean while also enjoying the high life. At the end of his hosting the first-ever visit by an American Ambassador to Martinique, he mentions that, “One day, I found myself sitting next to the American Ambassador to France enjoying a lunch of newly caught lobster, quail eggs, and caviar served by the Rockefeller’s butler.”


And terrorism, always terrorism: In chapter 50, “The Terrorist’s Vacation”, Brown comments on one incident, “The bomb had been set by Luc Reinette, the leader of a local separatist group. But the way he’d done it seemed so stupid I found it hard to believe.”

Reinette then tries to return the favor. In chapter 52, “Solve Haiti? Why?”, Brown finds himself on an assassination list, “An assassination list drawn up by the local branch of Reinette’s terrorist ARC outfit incensed me. How dare they put the American Consul General fifth!”

On the left, Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe, 1982. Here, the American Ambassador to France, Evan Galbraith, (waving, with the author standing to his left)) is visiting Guadeloupe, the second island Prefecture in my district. Here we’re being shown around by the Port’s Director MM. Rivier. On the right,  a “Wanted Poster” for Luc Reinette, the terrorist that reportedly put the author’s name on an assassination list.


In Chapter 54, towards the end of his assignment in Martinique, Brown finds himself in South America wearing his old hat as a counter-insurgency specialist, when he’s asked to investigate a nascent insurgency in nearby Surinam. He describes his findings in chapter 54, Drums Along the Maroni, “Brunswijk will wait for the end of the rainy season and then launch his force straight down the Maroni and then wheel west and head for the capital city, Paramaribo, on the only available all-weather coastal road.”

On the left, Kourou, French Guiana, 1982 – The primary pad used by EUROESPACE (the European Space Administration) for launching rockets. On the right, French Guiana, 1982 - The author’s son, Timothy Patrick, is standing in front of a Bosch tribal long house in Gran Santi.

In his final Chapter, 55, SECRET/EXDIS/CONTRA, Brown closes his narrative by introducing his next diplomatic assignment, “The fickle finger of fate was to flip me of towards Nicaragua one more time.   From 1987 through 1990, I was to be Special Liaison Officer to the Nicaraguan Contras, a professionally challenging political nightmare.… After being thoroughly vetted for the job by everyone involved in the Contra program from the CIA, the White House’s National Security Council to the State Department’s Inspector General and the Director General of the Foreign Service…..I was briefed in on what was to prove the most demanding, complex, least successful, and by far the most politically charged assignment of my diplomatic career.”

On the left, photo inscribed to the author by President Reagan in appreciation of his 1987-89 services in Honduras as Senior Liaison Officer to the Nicaraguan Contras, presented to him by Lyn Nofziger. On the right, Tegucigalpa, Honduras, 1988, here the author (center) is interpreting for Senators McCain (left) and Dodd (shaking hands with Honduran General Regalado) during a visit  with Honduran President Azcona, to the author’s right.  Below, redacted version of recommendation of the author and his office for the National HUMINT (Human Intelligence) Award.

 

 


Reviews of Diplomarine


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, Brown’s home state, whose mentor, Mike O’Callaghan,  was also Brown’s mentor, says of the author, “I met Dr. Timothy Brown decades ago through our mutual friend and my mentor, the late Nevada Governor Mike O’Callaghan. Mike believed in Dr. Brown’s work for the State Department, and it was not long before I too, came to appreciate his service to our country. Dr. Brown dedicated his life to protecting and strengthening American values and Diplomarine is the fascinating story of his experiences as a Marine and diplomat. His was an unusual career and I did not always agree with the foreign policies he was implementing. But his unique experiences and ‘boots-on-the-ground’ insights provide a valuable, if not unique, window on the international relations field in which he worked.” 
Ambassador Myles Frechette, himself a professional diplomat, calls Diplomarine, “A celebration of a life lived to the full serving the United States; a book I simply couldn’t put down. Brown is a master storyteller who entertains and amazes as he tells you about his life. He has a funny, unvarnished, almost swashbuckling style, and interweaves recollections of life as a Marine, diplomat and academic with wise reflections on what he learned along the way. He describes working on several continents as well as his experiences in ideological conflicts in Central America and Southeast Asia. His vantage point is not that of a senior military or diplomatic practitioner but of the man on the ground carrying out instructions sometimes based on an inaccurate understanding of local reality or, occasionally, on policies that cannot achieve their announced objectives. Empathetic, and with an instinctive cultural sensitivity, the reader can’t help but admire his self-confidence, ability to spot opportunities and quick thinking.” 
Juan Tamayo, of the Miami Herald, calls Diplomarine, “A great read for anyone interested in how the United States views and interacts with other countries and other peoples by a veteran diplomat, a 27-year veteran of the State Department, who was far more boots-on-the-ground than striped pants and suspenders. His snappy stories of good and bad ambassadors, smart and dumb U.S. policies, provide more lessons on foreign relations than any academic tome.”
Robert Morton, of NewsMax and Geostrategy and former Managing Editor of the Washington Times, says, “Brown is that rare former ‘U.S. official’ who can both write well and keep readers awake simultaneously. In Diplomarine he makes a convincing case that there is no real substitute for life experience, common sense and humor. This travelogue of a fascinating life makes for a thoroughly enjoyable and often hilarious education about important aspects of 20th Century U.S. foreign policy that the history books may have covered, but without Tim Brown’s down-to-earth anecdotes and insights.” 
The late Dr. Bill Ratliff, a Research Fellow at the world renown Hoover Institution, describes Diplomarine as, “A rare, possibly unique, bottom-up presentation of diplomacy with a Chaucerian flair that relates fascinating and exciting experiences on important foreign policy issues with a freshness and verve that will appeal to a broad audience, even those too young to remember many of the events on which he worked. Especially valuable are the author’s very candid, and at times politically incorrect, insights into the ideas, events, policies and groups with which he dealt. An invaluable portrait of the lives of Americans serving abroad painted by a true insider, Diplomarine has all the makings of a New York Times best seller.” 
For Dr. Paul Manoukian, a widely read student of foreign affairs Diplomarine is, “A riveting autobiographical account of the author’s experiences and adventures during his almost four decades as a Marine and Foreign Service Officer. Wending its way from country to country, the book exposes the often practical ironies of foreign policy and multifaceted relationship between the Foreign Service and other parts of the government. Diplomarine also offers the reader rare insights into the stresses and dangers of raising a family in the Diplomatic Corp. Close shaves, near misses and competing agendas keep the pages turning as the reader gradually begins to understand the extraordinarily complex variables that govern the expression and implementation of America’s foreign policies in the field. 
Website Builder