Priscilla Clapp had a 30 year career in the state department, which ended in 2002 as the top US official in Burma. She also served in top positions in South Africa in the early 1990s during the transition from Apartheid and in Japan and Moscow.
Clapp is the co-author with Mort Halperin of what I consider one of the most important books you can read about US foreign policy. It’s called Bureaucratic Politics and Foreign Policy, and as the title suggests, the book describes the role of the bureaucracy in shaping US foreign policy. We kick off with an extended conversation about that book, and then have another extended conversation about how Clapp, as the State Department official in charge of refugee programs in the late 1980s, used tools of bureaucratic politics to helped engineer the emigration of jewish refugees from Russia to the United States.
This is a great conversation with a foreign policy trail blazer who is now a senior advisor to the U.S. Institute of Peace.