The Foreign Service Journal - September 2017
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football teams, and was editor of the

school newspaper. He entered Stanford

University in 1950, graduating summa

cum laude with a B.A. in international

relations in 1953.

Mr. Rosenthal served for two years as

a Marine Corps officer. He was particu-

larly proud of his time in the Marine

Corps, which he said introduced him to

the “real” world and honed his leader-

ship skills. He participated in various

Marine Corps events throughout his


In 1956 Mr. Rosenthal joined the U.S.

Foreign Service. His first overseas post

was Port of Spain, where he was admin-

istrative officer. He then studied French

and Vietnamese at the Foreign Service

Institute, and went on to become a noted

Vietnam expert.

Mr. Rosenthal was first posted to

Saigon as a political officer in 1961.

During the next four years, he was the

embassy’s chief contact officer for the

politically minded Buddhists, and he also

headed up a unique provincial report-

ing unit designed to assess conditions

in the countryside. He was wounded in

the communist attack on the embassy in

March 1965.

Mr. Rosenthal’s next tour, in 1965, was

as assistant professor on the faculty of the

U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He

was the first State Department repre-

sentative and civilian on the faculty, and

taught comparative politics and interna-

tional relations.

In 1967 he returned to the Vietnam

desk in Washington, assisting in dealing

with the tumultuous political situation

in South Vietnam, including the famous

Tet Offensive of 1968. In 1970 he was

assigned to Paris, where in he helped

backstop Secretary of State Henry Kiss-

inger’s efforts to negotiate an end to the

VietnamWar in the Paris Peace Talks.

His next assignment was as deputy

chief of mission and chargé d’affaires

in Bangui, where his responsibilities

included handling a volatile African

leader, Central African Republic Presi-

dent Jean-Bédel Bokassa.

After completing a year at the National

War College in 1975, Ambassador Rosen-

thal returned to take charge of the Indo-

china desk at the State Department in the

wake of the fall of Indochina to commu-