Elbridge Durbrow


Elbridge Durbrow (September 21, 1903 – May 16, 1997) was a Foreign Service officer and diplomat who served as the Counselor of Embassy and Deputy in Moscow in the late 1940s and then as the US ambassador to from March 14, 1957 to April 16, 1961. He supported the Diem regime until late 1960, when he reported that the situation was deteriorating and that unless steps were taken to reform the government, Diem would be likely overthrown in a coup, or lose the country to the . Diem and his American supporters worked to get Durbrow transferred, and he was recalled by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, and sent to a diplomatic role with NATO in Europe.

Early life

Durbrow was born in , . Durbrow graduated from in 1926 with a degree in . He then continued his education at , the in France, in the Netherlands, the in Paris and finally the , where he studied and .


Durbrow began his career in the by serving as at the American in . He rose through the service's ranks over the next decade and served in , , , , and . In 1941, Durbrow became the assistant chief of the 's Eastern European affairs division. In 1944, Durbrow was appointed as the chief of the Eastern European division of the State Department in . That year, he was also one of the American delegates at the , which set up the , the (GATT), the (IMF), and the of money management. After , Durbrow was vocal in his opposition for the diplomatic recognition of new governments in , , and because of their communist origins. In 1946, he left that position to succeed as the Counselor of Embassy and Deputy Chief of Mission in , under the and future , . Durbrow warned Smith and others of Soviet and efforts to break up the . From 1948 to 1950, he served as an adviser to the in Washington, DC, and spent the next two years as director of the Foreign Service's personnel division. In 1952, he was sent to , where he served as deputy chief of mission to the US ambassador to Italy, . Two years later, he was promoted to the diplomatic rank of . On March 14, 1957, President named Durbrow as the . At the time, the US had a minor military and political presence in Vietnam to prevent communism from taking over the region. Durbrow had a difficult time in his ambassadorial role. He often had to work with the authoritarian regime of and the corruption and ineffective policymaking that accompanied it. South Vietnamese officers, disgruntled with Diem's government, tried to persuade Durbrow into joining anti-Diem groups. Durbrow began to feel uneasy about Diem's authority, had to refuse because the US government was still supported Diem. In 1960, Diem and his younger brother and chief political adviser, , accused Durbrow of supporting a failed by paratroopers of the . Durbrow later recalled receiving a phone call from one of Diem's aides, who asked him to tell Diem to surrender or face a attack on the presidential palace. Durbrow refused, and no attack occurred. He later learned that the aide had been forced to make the call.“Interview with Eldridge Durbrow, 1979 (Part 1 of 3).”
02/01/1979. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved November 23, 2010.
In April 1961, President formed a committee to assess the political, military, and socioeconomic situation in Vietnam, in the hope of determining what it would take to keep Communism out of South Vietnam. On April 16, Kennedy replaced Durbrow with , who supported appeasement. Later, Durbrow served as a delegate to the Council in Paris and later as a government adviser to the National War College and the .


Durbrow retired from his 38-year diplomatic career in 1968. He spent the next two decades writing and lecturing on . Throughout the 1970s, he served as the chairman of the American Foreign Policy Institute and as the director of the Center for International Strategic Studies and the Freedom Studies Center in , . Durbrow died at his home in , on May 16, 1997 from of a . He was survived by his second wife, Benice Balcom Durbrow, and two sons from his first marriage, Chandler and Bruce.


Further reading

* Adamson, Michael R. "Ambassadorial Roles and Foreign Policy: Elbridge Durbrow, Frederick Nolting, and the US Commitment to Diem's Vietnam, 1957–61." ''Presidential Studies Quarterly'' 32.2 (2002): 229-255. * Frankum Jr, Ronald Bruce. ''Vietnam's Year of the Rat: Elbridge Durbrow, Ngo Đinh Diệm and the Turn in US Relations, 1959-1961'' (McFarland, 2014). {{DEFAULTSORT:Durbrow, Elbridge United States Foreign Service personnel