Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with G. Norman Anderson
The Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training Foreign Affairs Oral History Project
AMBASSADOR G. NORMAN ANDERSON
Interviewed by: J. P. Moffat
Initial interview date: June 18, 1996
Copyright 1998 ADST
Q: This is an interview of Ambassador G. Norman Anderson on June 18, 1996. The interviewer is J. P. Moffat. Why don't you give us a little of your background, before you came to the Foreign Service?
ANDERSON: Basically I studied Russian while in the Navy and also went to graduate school at the Russian Institute at Columbia. So my main background, oriented towards the Foreign Service, was in Russian language and Soviet affairs.
Q: So when you came in to the Foreign Service in 1960, the Foreign Service did not immediately choose to avail itself of this background?
ANDERSON: No, I had of course requested a tour in Moscow, but I was told first tour officers could not go there. However, the State Department did suggest I study Arabic, a hard language. I chose Arabic because at the time the Soviet Union was very active in the Arab world. So I thought Russian and Arabic would be a good combination.
Q: Were you the only one to have this combination, or was this a regular thing?
ANDERSON: No, I think I was the first person to have such a combination. There were people who had combined Russian and Chinese, but not Arabic.
Q: And this took most of two years in Washington to start the Arabic training?
ANDERSON: Before I was assigned to Arabic I went to personnel, to the office that assigned people to language training. That was part of the deal, they got some work out of me before they sent me off to language training. but then I went to Beirut in 1961, early 1961, for Arabic. I just stayed on because the ambassador there, Armin Meyer, asked me to stay as his aide. So I stayed there for another three years, four and a half years all together, in Beirut.