Lunch with Ambassador Wisner (Tu 56-57)

North Korea, Iran deal, trade wars, Embassy move to Jerusalem, Russia, China, Brexit… might be forgiven for being somewhat alarmed.

New York Rugbeians, however, now have greater insight than alumni of lesser schools thanks to a briefing over lunch with Frank Wisner, Rugbeian and Career Ambassador (ret.) – the highest rank in the U.S. Foreign Service.

After Rugby Frank went on to Princeton, then began a diplomatic career in Algiers immediately after independence from France. He was then assigned to Vietnam where he spent four years at the apex of the war. Frank served as the U.S. Ambassador to Zambia, Egypt, the Philippines and India. He also served as Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and as Under Secretary of State for International Security Affairs.

Frank attended Rugby under the headmastership of Arthur fforde, and he recalled at lunch that he was the only American at Rugby during the Suez Crisis with its uncomfortable moments in Anglo-American relations. A fascinating tour d’horizon of international challenges confronting the United States - some of them self-inflicted – ensued: we had the privilege of a detailed foreign policy conversation with one of America’s most distinguished diplomats.

Attendees included Frank’s old friend Mac Deford (Tu 50-60), another U.S. Foreign Service veteran traveling up from Florida to Maine for ‘the season’. Peter Roberts (SH 54-59) trained up from Philadelphia for the occasion.

Historian and City University of New York Professor Ervand Abrahamian (M 54-59) offered fascinating insights on Iran. (Yes, Ervand wrote A History of Modern Iran, among other publications). My near-contemporaries Peter Jachym (K 73-74), Marcus Burrows (St 74-76) and James Nichol (K 73-77) attended, as did Ian Harris (Tu 83-87).

Bankole (Banky) Cardoso (Sh 01-06), lately of Nigeria and now with a freshly-minted Columbia University MBA showed up with his charming lady friend Busola Coker. Helen Mortimer (St 99-01), prominent in New York’s Global Pass, showed a splendid disregard for the rules of her downtown employer and broke away to join us for an extended lunch break at Frank’s law firm in midtown Manhattan.

We were delighted to be joined by David and Jennifer Scarozza, parents of current Rugbeian Olivia Scarozza. New York area Rugbeians who were lucky enough to hear the Rugby School Choir perform at Carnegie Hall in February 2017 will remember Olivia’s extraordinary choral talent.

It was a wonderful get-together of Rugbeians in New York – and a profoundly insightful discussion of foreign policy challenges immediately ahead.