Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Douglas K. Watson
WATSON: There I was, as far “down” in the Political Section as you can get. As a matter of fact, Kay Bracken was initially our political counselor there, a woman, which for those times was undoubtedly quite unusual. She was succeeded by Arch Blood. I only worked with Kay a brief time. I worked with Arch for a longer period. Bob Keeley was another outstanding political officer, who some years later served as our ambassador to Greece. What was really possible in dealing with the Greek government at that time, which was a military government, as opposed to our prior dealings with the democratic body politic? I don't honestly know what the view was in the Department, but I do know that there were strong views within the embassy Political Section. I recall one officer who took the position which was more towards developing further and strengthening contacts with the democratic sector and isolating, if you will, the military government. That individual strongly took a position which was not unanimously agreed to at all within the Embassy. It was difficult or him. I respected very much his having taken that stand. I was inclined to side with him, but after all, it was the government of Greece and you had to deal with it somehow. That was reality. My appreciation of the political situation and nuances there was not near so developed as that of those regular political officers assigned to the section.
Q: When your tour came to an end, you went back to Washington for training. What were you trained in?
WATSON: I participated in a very fine administrative training program, a course called Administrative Management and Operations. Joan Clark headed it up. She was later Ambassador to Malta, then Director General of the Foreign Service and personnel. She is currently working to help AFSA with the Senior Living Foundation. There were a number of very good officers participating in that training program. I think course participants numbered only about 15, maybe 18. I believe the training lasted 12 weeks, late September to Christmas. Then, at long last, on the heels of that, I took Spanish language training, I think for a 16 weeks, and I ended with a three plus, three plus, and felt pretty prepared to go to Madrid, where I was indeed assigned as the Assistant General Services Officer, and later as the General Services Officer. I had decided to opt for the administrative cone, feeling only somewhat facetiously that we needed in the administrative field the finest of diplomats because you had to deal with people like Foreign Service Officers. Consequently you needed the best diplomatic skills.