It was not a very easy task indeed. There were no direct lines of communication. One might approach the embassy for information, but if you were unlucky you would be denied access. If you wanted to see the records of a particular foreign government, you would have to go through the embassy’s bureaucracy.
Once the paperwork was in place, I had to organize it into a manageable package and then secure appropriate passports for all the travelers. I would then have to get the needed visas, in order to cross the border. Of course, there were many procedural details to be ironed out. I recall one occasion when I nearly lost my life transporting this sensitive cargo! But I can alive to remember the experience and it enabled me to appreciate how lucky I felt to have such a wonderful, caring and principled mentor at my side…
It was also quite an honor to work with Karl Pearsons. He epitomized the finest qualities of the American spirit – an idealistic willingness to serve his fellow man and a tireless devotion to the welfare of his country. He was born in Ohio, the son of German immigrants. He attended college and joined the Peace Corp. Later he served two terms as ambassador to Turkey. Ambassador Pearsons somehow knew that he could count on the cooperation of Turkish Ambassador Mehmetkell Yilmaz and he entrusted the task of getting the two men together in Washington. They became friends and worked very well together.
Theirs was a friendship that lasted until Mehmetelli was assassinated. When the dust settled, Pearsons offered his services as a U.S. consul in Istanbul. He was given the extraordinary position of ambassador to Turkey and charged with the responsibility of ensuring American citizens’ safety, both physically and financially. He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for this service. Karl Pearsons consistently demonstrated an outstanding dedication to his duty.
Ambassador Pearsons understood very well that our system of government was designed to prevent another catastrophic event like Pearl Harbor from happening. He repeatedly warned us about the danger of a military Coup d’Etat against civilian rule and he made it clear to his employers, the United States and the European Union that he would use his best judgment in those matters. He never took any pride or glory in it. He simply did his job.
Ambassador Pearsons knew very well that the people who were working for him were not stupid. They routinely performed their duties with the utmost professionalism and skill. There is not one bit of doubt that he would have been successful had he not resigned. The question is whether he would have done it if his superiors in the United States and the European Union had not forced him? I submit that we cannot afford to lose even one American citizen to a military coup d’etat… especially when there are no other options available.
Today we are engaged in the same type of struggle with the Russians, which occurred at the beginning of the Cold War. We also face significant challenges in Iraq, Iran, Nigeria, Chad, South Africa, the former Yugoslavia and much more. Are we willing to use our heads, our diplomacy, our moral authority and our capabilities to solve these problems? These questions should be asked by all Americans. We owe it to our fellow citizens to ensure that they have a bright and safe future.