William H. Sullivan
|United States Ambassador to Iran|
|Preceded by||Richard Helms|
|Succeeded by||Bruce Laingen (chargé d'affaires)|
|United States Ambassador to the Philippines|
August 6, 1973 –April 26, 1977
|President|| Richard Nixon |
|Preceded by||Henry A. Byroade|
|Succeeded by||David D. Newsom|
|United States Ambassador to Laos|
December 23, 1964 –March 18, 1969
|President|| Lyndon B. Johnson |
|Preceded by||Leonard S. Unger|
|Succeeded by||G. McMurtrie Godley|
William Healy Sullivan
October 12, 1922
Cranston, Rhode Island, U.S.
|Died||October 11, 2013 90) (aged|
Washington, D. C., U.S.
|Residence||Washington, D. C., U.S.|
|Alma mater||Brown University|
William Healy Sullivan (October 12, 1922 – October 11, 2013) was an American Foreign Service career officer who served as Ambassador to Laos from 1964–1969, the Philippines from 1973–1977, and Iran from 1977–1979.
The United States Foreign Service is the primary personnel system used by the diplomatic service of the United States federal government, under the aegis of the United States Department of State. It consists of over 13,000 professionals carrying out the foreign policy of the United States and aiding U.S. citizens abroad.
The foreign relations of Laos, internationally designated by its official name as the Lao People's Democratic Republic, after the takeover by the Pathet Lao in December 1975, were characterized by a hostile posture toward the West, with the government of the Lao People's Democratic Republic aligning itself with the Soviet bloc, maintaining close ties with the Soviet Union and depending heavily on the Soviets for most of its foreign assistance. Laos also maintained a "special relationship" with Vietnam and formalized a 1977 treaty of friendship and cooperation that created tensions with China.
Foreign relations of the Philippines are administered by the President of the Philippines and the Department of Foreign Affairs. Philippine international affairs are influenced by ties to its Southeast Asian neighbors, China, the United States, and the Middle East.
Sullivan was born in Cranston, Rhode Island, and graduated from Brown University as salutatorian and Class Orator of the class of 1943. His senior address was on America's duty to "aid in repairing not only the damage suffered by our Allies, but also that sustained by our enemies."After graduation, he entered the Navy and served as a gunnery officer on a destroyer, the USS Hambleton . The Hambleton escorted North Atlantic convoys, and served off North Africa and Italy before participating in the D-Day invasion of Normandy and the invasion of Okinawa. He had the senior watch on the Hambleton when it entered Yokohama harbor for the Japanese surrender.
Cranston, once known as Pawtuxet, is a city in Providence County, Rhode Island, United States. With a population of 80,529 at the 2010 census, it is the third largest city in the state. The center of population of Rhode Island is located in Cranston. Cranston is a part of the Providence metropolitan area.
Brown University is a private Ivy League research university in Providence, Rhode Island. Founded in 1764 as the College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, it is the seventh-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution.
After obtaining a joint graduate degree from Harvard University and the Fletcher School at Tufts University under the GI Bill, Sullivan joined the Foreign Service and was posted to Bangkok, Thailand. During that tour, he was in brief communication with the Viet Cong, who were in exile in northern Thailand. His subsequent assignments were to Calcutta, India, Tokyo, Japan, Naples and Rome, Italy, and The Hague, Netherlands.
Harvard University is a private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with about 6,700 undergraduate students and about 15,250 postgraduate students. Established in 1636 and named for its first benefactor, clergyman John Harvard, Harvard is the United States' oldest institution of higher learning, and its history, influence, and wealth have made it one of the world's most prestigious universities.
Tufts University is a private research university in Medford and Somerville, Massachusetts. A charter member of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), Tufts College was founded in 1852 by Christian universalists who worked for years to open a nonsectarian institution of higher learning. It was a small New England liberal arts college until its transformation into a larger research university in the 1970s. The university emphasizes active citizenship and public service in all its disciplines, and is known for its internationalism and study abroad programs.
Bangkok is the capital and most populous city of Thailand. It is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon or simply Krung Thep. The city occupies 1,568.7 square kilometres (605.7 sq mi) in the Chao Phraya River delta in central Thailand, and has a population of over eight million, or 12.6 percent of the country's population. Over fourteen million people lived within the surrounding Bangkok Metropolitan Region at the 2010 census, making Bangkok the nation's primate city, significantly dwarfing Thailand's other urban centres in terms of importance.
His habit of speaking his mind with force and candor grated on more than one superior, and for years he languished in the lower grades. Then, in the Kennedy administration, he was assigned to the office of W. Averell Harriman, the Assistant Secretary for the Far East. Harriman, no admirer of blandness, immediately recognized his abilities.
William Averell Harriman, better known as Averell Harriman, was an American Democratic politician, businessman, and diplomat. The son of railroad baron E. H. Harriman, he served as Secretary of Commerce under President Harry S. Truman and later as the 48th Governor of New York. He was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1952 and 1956, as well as a core member of the group of foreign policy elders known as "The Wise Men".
Sullivan served as Harriman's deputy at Geneva negotiations about the future of Laos in 1961 and during the Cuban Missile Crisis.When the Vietnam War heated up, he served briefly as deputy chief of mission to the U.S. Embassy in Saigon.
Laos, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, commonly referred to by its colloquial name of Muang Lao, is a socialist state and the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia. Located at the heart of the Indochinese peninsula, Laos is bordered by Myanmar (Burma) and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the southwest, and Thailand to the west and southwest.
The Cuban Missile Crisis, also known as the October Crisis of 1962, the Caribbean Crisis, or the Missile Scare, was a 13-day confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union initiated by the American discovery of Soviet ballistic missile deployment in Cuba. The confrontation is often considered the closest the Cold War came to escalating into a full-scale nuclear war.
The Vietnam War, also known as the Second Indochina War, and in Vietnam as the Resistance War Against America or simply the American War, was an undeclared war in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. It was the second of the Indochina Wars and was officially fought between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. North Vietnam was supported by the Soviet Union, China, and other communist allies; South Vietnam was supported by the United States, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, Thailand and other anti-communist allies. The war is considered a Cold War-era proxy war from some US perspectives. It lasted some 19 years with direct U.S. involvement ending in 1973 following the Paris Peace Accords, and included the Laotian Civil War and the Cambodian Civil War, resulting in all three countries becoming communist states in 1975.
His nephew is United States Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan.
The Deputy Secretary of State of the United States is the principal deputy to the Secretary of State. If the Secretary of State resigns or dies, the Deputy Secretary of State becomes Acting Secretary of State until the President nominates and the Senate confirms a replacement. The position was created in 1972. Prior to July 13, 1972, the Under Secretary of State had been the second ranking officer of the Department of State. The position is held by John J. Sullivan.
John Joseph Sullivan is an American lawyer and government official serving as the 19th and current United States Deputy Secretary of State since 2017. A member of the Republican Party, Sullivan served as Acting United States Secretary of State from April 1, 2018 to April 26, 2018, following President Donald Trump's dismissal of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on March 13, 2018, until Tillerson's official successor, Mike Pompeo, was sworn in. Tillerson did not officially leave office until March 31, 2018. Sullivan, however, was delegated all responsibilities of the Secretary of State beginning March 13.
In 1964, Sullivan began his tenure as Ambassador to Laos. During his service in Laos, Sullivan broached negotiations with the North Vietnamese, capitalizing on his prior contacts with the Viet Cong in Thailand nearly 20 years previously, for the initiation of the Paris Peace Talks that ended the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.Pursuant to an order by President Kennedy, all U.S. military operations in Laos were under the direct supervision of the Ambassador. As Ambassador to Laos during Project 404, and he also personally directed the bombing of the Ho Chi Minh trail. This civilian control and the restriction on military operations rankled the military.
After he left Laos, Sullivan returned to Washington to coordinate the U.S. participation in the Paris Peace Talks.Thereafter, he was appointed Ambassador to the Philippines. South Vietnam fell while he in the Philippines, and Sullivan orchestrated the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people through that nation. He was able to convince President Marcos to permit the fleeing South Vietnamese navy to land, despite a demand from the new Communist Vietnamese government for its return, by arguing that the ships were in fact U.S. property after the fall of the South Vietnamese government, as a result of the terms of their sale to that state.
Sullivan next served as U.S. Ambassador to Iran, arriving just before President Jimmy Carter's visit to the Shah of Iran in December 1977. In the 1970s, America had extremely close military and economic links with Iran. However, in early 1978, growing unrest due to inflation and other economic hardships fueled by the growing tide of fundamentalist Islam led to demonstrations against the Shah. During the next year, however, as the domestic situation in Iran was rapidly unraveling, Washington had few instructions for the Embassy in Iran.
As the demonstrations increased in scale, Sullivan came into conflict with National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski over a resolution that would be acceptable to American interests. Sullivan felt that compromise with the demonstrators and the Ayatollah Khomeini was necessary, while Brzezinski favored strong, unconditional support for the Shah and Iranian Prime Minister Shapour Bakhtiar. Although Brzezinski got his way, the demonstrators prevailed; in late 1978, Sullivan cabled Washington that it might be necessary to consider policy options if the military proved unable to assure the shah's continuance in power and the shah should depart from Iran.In January 1979, the White House instructed Sullivan to inform the shah that the U.S. government felt he should leave the country.
On February 1, 1979, the exiled Khomeini returned to Tehran. Days later, with Tehran in revolution and all organs of state essentially nonexistent, Under Secretary of State David D. Newsom called from the White House Situation Room with a question for Sullivan: "The National Security Advisor (Brzezinski) has asked for your view of the possibility of a coup d'état by the Iranian military to take over from the Bakhtiar government, which is clearly faltering."
Sullivan allegedly replied, "Tell Brzezinski to fuck off."
"That's not a very helpful comment," Newsom noted.
"You want it translated into Polish?" Sullivan hung up.
On February 14, 1979, the US Embassy in Teheran was overrun by several different armed groups.The Embassy staff was briefly taken hostage, but later released to the caretaker Iranian government.
He wrote in his autobiography: "I had recommended that we accept the fact that a revolution was in progress and seek to use our not inconsiderable influence to steer its success toward its more moderate protagonists." This view, however, was not shared by Washington, and Sullivan was recalled in March 1979. Shortly after, on April 1, 1979, Iran officially became an Islamic Republic.
After Sullivan left Iran, the Embassy drew down to a skeleton staff, under the direction of Chargé d'Affaires Bruce Laingen, who later became one of 52 Americans held hostage by militant Iranian students.
He headed the American Assembly at Columbia University, which had been briefly headed by General Dwight Eisenhower before he was elected President, from 1979 to 1986. In 1981, Sullivan published Mission to Iran, a memoir of his time as ambassador. His autobiography, Obbligato: Notes on a Foreign Service Career, was published in 1984.
He later served on the boards of the Lincoln Center, the International Center, and the U.S.- Vietnam Trade Council.
In 1988 he received an overture to begin steps towards U.S.-Vietnam normalization from his former North Vietnamese negotiations counterpart Nguyen Co Thach, who had become Vietnam's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister. Sullivan first traveled back to Vietnam in May 1989 to meet with Minister Thach, founded the U.S.-Vietnam Trade Council, and from then continued to work on steps towards the historic normalization.
Following retirement, he lived a quiet life in Cuernavaca, Mexico, and later, Washington, D.C.
William H. Sullivan died on October 11, 2013, one day before his 91st birthday.He is survived by 4 children and 6 grandchildren.
Richard McGarrah Helms served as the United States Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) from June 1966 to February 1973. Helms began intelligence work with the Office of Strategic Services during World War II. Following the 1947 creation of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) he rose in its ranks during the Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy administrations. Helms then served as DCI under Presidents Johnson and Nixon.
Cyrus Roberts Vance was an American lawyer and United States Secretary of State under President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1980. Prior to that position he was the Secretary of the Army and the Deputy Secretary of Defense.
The Iran hostage crisis was a diplomatic standoff between the United States and Iran. Fifty-two American diplomats and citizens were held hostage for 444 days from November 4, 1979, to January 20, 1981, after a group of Iranian college students belonging to the Muslim Student Followers of the Imam's Line, who supported the Iranian Revolution, took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. It stands as the longest hostage crisis in recorded history.
The Paris Peace Accords, officially titled the Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam, was a peace treaty signed on January 27, 1973, to establish peace in Vietnam and end the Vietnam War. The treaty included the governments of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, the Republic of Vietnam, and the United States, as well as the Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG) that represented indigenous South Vietnamese revolutionaries. US ground forces up to that point had been sidelined with deteriorating morale and gradually withdrawn to coastal regions, not partaking in offensive operations or much direct combat for the preceding two-year period. The Paris Agreement Treaty would in effect remove all remaining US Forces, including air and naval forces in exchange for Hanoi's POWs. Direct U.S. military intervention was ended, and fighting between the three remaining powers temporarily stopped for less than a day. The agreement was not ratified by the United States Senate.
Military Assistance Command, Vietnam – Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG) was a highly classified, multi-service United States special operations unit which conducted covert unconventional warfare operations prior to and during the Vietnam War.
Richard James Meadows was a U.S. Army Special Forces officer who saw combat in Korea and Vietnam. He was a key figure in the Iran Hostage Rescue mission in 1980. He was a pivotal player in the creation of the modern U.S. Army Special Forces.
The Battle of Lima Site 85, also called Battle of Phou Pha Thi, was fought as part of a military campaign waged during the Vietnam War and Laotian Civil War by the North Vietnamese army and the Pathet Lao, against airmen of the United States Air Force's 1st Combat Evaluation Group, elements of the Royal Lao Army, Royal Thai Border Patrol Police, and the Central Intelligence Agency-led Hmong Clandestine Army. The battle was fought on Phou Pha Thi mountain in Houaphanh Province, Laos, on 10 March 1968, and derives its name from the mountaintop where it was fought or from the designation of a 700 feet (210 m) landing strip in the valley below, and was the largest single ground combat loss of United States Air Force members during the Vietnam War.
Lowell Bruce Laingen is an American retired diplomat who served as the United States Ambassador to Malta from 1977 and 1979. Laingen is best known as the most senior American official held hostage during the Iran hostage crisis, serving as the chargé d'affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
Operation Barrel Roll was a covert U.S. Air Force 2nd Air Division and U.S. Navy Task Force 77, interdiction and close air support campaign conducted in the Kingdom of Laos between 14 December 1964 and 29 March 1973 concurrent with the Vietnam War.
Elbridge Durbrow was a Foreign Service officer and diplomat who served as the Counselor of Embassy. Anderson deputy Chief of Mission in Moscow in the late 1940s and then the US ambassador to South Vietnam from March 1957 to April 1961.
CIA activities in Laos started in the 1950s. In 1959, U.S. Special Forces began to train some Laotian soldiers in unconventional warfare techniques as early as the fall of 1959 under the code name Erawan. Under this code name, General Vang Pao, who served the royal Lao family, recruited and trained his Hmong soldiers. The Hmong were targeted as allies after President Kennedy, who refused to send more American soldiers to battle in Southeast Asia, took power. Instead, he called the CIA to use its tribal forces in Laos and "make every possible effort to launch guerrilla operations in North Vietnam with its Asian recruits." General Vang Pao then recruited and trained his Hmong soldiers to ally with the CIA and fight against North Vietnam.
1961 saw a new American president, John F. Kennedy, attempt to cope with a deteriorating military and political situation in South Vietnam. The Viet Cong with assistance from North Vietnam made substantial gains in controlling much of the rural population of South Vietnam. Kennedy expanded military aid to the government of President Ngo Dinh Diem, increased the number of U.S. military advisors in South Vietnam, and reduced the pressure that had been exerted on Diem during the Eisenhower Administration to reform his government and broaden his political base.
South Vietnam was in political chaos during much of the year, as generals competed for power and Buddhists protested against the government. The Viet Cong communist guerrillas expanded their operations and defeated the South Vietnamese army (ARVN) in many battles. North Vietnam made a definitive judgement in January to assist the Viet Cong insurgency with men and material. In November, North Vietnam ordered the North Vietnamese Army to infiltrate units into South Vietnam and undertake joint military operations with the Viet Cong.
The Former Embassy of Iran in Washington, D.C. was the Imperial State of Iran's diplomatic mission to the United States. Direct bilateral Iran–United States relations between the two governments were severed following the Iranian Revolution in 1979, and the subsequent seizure of hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran.
Kenneth L. Kraus is a former United States Marine who was the first American taken hostage by Iranian militants prior to the Iran hostage crisis.
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Victor L. Tomseth is a former American diplomat and U.S. Ambassador (1993–1996) to Laos. He was Deputy Chief of Mission in Tehran, Iran and was among the Americans taken hostage by the Iranians from 1979 to 1981.
Leonard S. Unger
| United States Ambassador to Laos |
G. McMurtrie Godley
Henry A. Byroade
| United States Ambassador to the Philippines |
David D. Newsom