Today’s post is written by David Langbart, an Archivist in the Textual Records Division at the National Archives at College Park.
February 14 marks the thirty-ninth anniversary of the murder of U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Adolph “Spike” Dubs in Kabul, Afghanistan. On February 14, 1979, Ambassador Dubs was kidnapped while being driven through the streets of Kabul. His captors held him in the Hotel Kabul for several hours. Their purpose in seizing Dubs is not clear. Ambassador Dubs died during a botched rescue attempt by Afghani forces under circumstances never fully or adequately explained by Afghan authorities or their Soviet advisors.[i]
Ambassador Dubs had a distinguished career in the Foreign Service. The following entry from the 1974 BIOGRAPHIC REGISTER of the Department of State (the last year the register was published in unclassified form) provides the outline up to that point. President Jimmy Carter appointed Dubs ambassador to Afghanistan and he presented his credentials there on July 12, 1978.
While the outline of his career covers all the bureaucratic bases, it does not reflect the ambassador’s achievements nor does it reveal the man. The editors of the WASHINGTON STAR asked Warren Zimmerman, a former subordinate of Dubs at a posting in Yugoslavia and then working in the U.S. embassy in Paris, for a contribution about the ambassador. In response, he prepared a draft under the title “Portrait of a Diplomat” that he sent to Washington in the following telegram, from the Central Foreign Policy Files (NAID 654098).
The WASHINGTON STAR printed Zimmerman’s column on the op-ed page of the February 19 newspaper under the title “Memories of a slain diplomat.” As printed, the column used much, but not all, of the text in the telegram.
Ambassador Dubs is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
My thanks to my colleague Jeffery Hartley for his help digging up the newspaper column.
[i]An embassy report on the death of Ambassador Dubs is in Embassy Kabul to Department of State, Telegram 01098, February 14, 1979, 1979KABUL01098, Central Foreign Policy Files (NAID 654098), 1973-79/Electronic Telegrams, RG 59: General Records of the Department of State.