|United States Ambassador to Afghanistan|
June 27, 1978 – February 14, 1979
|Preceded by||Theodore L. Eliot, Jr.|
|Succeeded by||J. Bruce Amstutz (as charge d'affaires)
Robert Finn (as Ambassador, 2002)
August 4, 1920|
Chicago, Illinois, USA
|Died||February 14, 1979
|Resting place||Arlington National Cemetery|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Navy|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
Adolph "Checkem" Dubs (August 4, 1920 – February 14, 1979) was the United States Ambassador to Afghanistan from May 13, 1978 until his death in 1979. He was killed in an exchange of gunfire after a kidnapping attempt.
Dubs was born in Chicago, Illinois and graduated from Beloit College in 1942 with a degree in political science. He served in the United States Navy during World War II. Later, he completed graduate studies at Georgetown University and foreign service studies at Harvard University and Washington University in St. Louis.
He subsequently entered the United States Foreign Service as a career diplomat, and his postings included Germany, Liberia, Canada, Yugoslavia, and the Soviet Union. He became a noted Soviet expert, and in 1973-74 he served as ranking charge d'affaires at the United States Embassy in Moscow.
Kidnapping and death
On February 14, 1979, just months before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Dubs was being driven from his residence to the U.S. embassy slightly before 9 a.m. and was approaching the U.S. Cultural Center when four men stopped the ambassador's armored black Chevrolet limousine. Some accounts say that the men were wearing Afghan police uniforms, while others state that only one of the four was wearing a police uniform. The men gestured to the car to open its windows, which were bulletproof, and the ambassador's driver complied. The militants then stuck a pistol in the driver's face and carjacked the vehicle, forcing the driver to take Dubs to the Kabul Hotel, a nearby hotel in downtown Kabul. The abduction occurred "within plain sight of at least one real Afghan policeman." There, Dubs was held in Room 117 on the first floor of the hotel. The driver was sent to the U.S. embassy to tell the Americans of the kidnapping.
At the hotel, the abductors allegedly demanded that the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan release "one or more religious or political prisoners." "No demands were made of the American government, nor did the DRA ever give a complete or consistent account of the kidnappers' desires." Some accounts state that the militants demanded the exchange of Tahir Badakhshi, Badruddin Bahes (who may have already been dead), and Wasef Bakhtari.
The Americans urged waiting in order not to endanger Dubs' life, but the Afghan police disregarded these pleas to negotiate and, on the advice of Soviet officers, attacked. The weapons and flak jackets used by the Afghans were provided by the Soviets, and the hotel lobby had multiple Soviet officials, including the KGB security chief, the lead Soviet advisor to the Afghan police, and the second secretary at the Soviet embassy. At the end of the morning, a shot was heard fired. Afghan police then stormed room 117 with heavy automatic gunfire. After a short, intense firefight, estimated at 40 seconds to one minute, Dubs was "found slumped in a chair, killed by shots to the head. Two abductors died in the firefight as well. An autopsy showed that Dubs had been shot in the head from a distance of six inches. The other two abductors were captured alive but were inexplicably shot shortly thereafter; their bodies were shown to U.S. officials before dusk.
The true identity and aims of the militants who kidnapped Dubs is uncertain, and the crime "has never been satisfactorily explained" although "American, Afghan, and Soviet officials ... were all but eyewitnesses" to it. The circumstances have been described as "mysterious" and "still clouded." Multiple factors obscured the events of February 14, 1979: "the execution of surviving captors, prevention of forensic analysis of the crime scene, blocking of access to American investigators, and planting of evidence. It is not possible to say whether this was a conspiracy or whether, if so, it was of Russian or Afghan origin."
Some attribute responsibility for the kidnapping and murder to the leftist anti-Pashtun group Settam-e-Melli, but others consider the allegation that Settam-e-Melli was responsible to be "dubious," pointing to a former Kabul policeman who has claimed that at least one kidnapper was part of the Parcham faction of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan. Disinformation spread in the Soviet and Afghan communist press after the murder, described as "outlandish," blamed the incident on the CIA, Hafizullah Amin, or both. Anthony Arnold suggested that "it was obvious that only one power ... would benefit from the murder--the Soviet Union," as the death of the ambassador "irrevocably poisoned" the U.S.-Afghan relationship, "leaving the USSR with a monopoly of great power influence over" the Nur Muhammad Taraki government. Carter's national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, stated that Dubs' death "was a tragic event which involved either Soviet ineptitude or collusion."
The Carter administration was "outraged" by the murder of the ambassador and by the conduct of the Afghan government, and began to disengage from Afghanistan and express sympathy with Afghan regime opponents. The incident hastened the decline in U.S.-Afghan relations, causing the United States to make a "fundamental reassessment" of its policy. In reaction to Dubs' murder, the U.S. immediately cut planned humanitarian aid of $15 million by half and canceled all planned military aid of $250,000. By December 1979, when the Soviet occupation of the country was complete, the U.S. terminated all economic support. The Afghan government aimed to diminish the American presence in Afghanistan and restricted the number of Peace Corps volunteers and cultural exchange programs.
On July 23, the State Department announced the withdrawal of "nonessential" U.S. embassy staff from Kabul, the majority of the diplomats, as security deteriorated, and by December the U.S. only had some 20 staff members in Kabul. Dubs was not replaced by a new ambassador, and a chargé d'affaires led the skeleton staff at the embassy.
Documents released from the Soviet KGB archives by Vasily Mitrokhin in the 1990s showed that the Afghan government clearly authorized the assault despite forceful demands for peaceful negotiations by the U.S., and that the KGB adviser on scene, Sergei Batrukhin, may have recommended the assault, as well as the execution of a kidnapper before U.S. experts could interrogate him. The Mitrokhin archives also indicate that the fourth kidnapper escaped and the body of a freshly killed prisoner served as a substitute for the American inspection. Other questions remain unanswered.
Dubs is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Camp Dubs, named after Dubs, is a U.S. military camp at the Darul Aman Palace in southwest Kabul.
- Francis E. Meloy, Jr., the previous US ambassador to die in the line of duty
- Arnold Lewis Raphel, the next U.S. ambassador to die in the line of duty
- J. Christopher Stevens U.S. ambassador who died in the line of duty in 2012
- "Adolph Dubs (1920-1979)". U.S. State Department. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
- J. Robert Moskin, American Statecraft: The Story of the U.S. Foreign Service (Thomas Dunne Books, 2013), p. 594.
- Anthony Arnold, Afghanistan, the Soviet Invasion in Perspective (Hoover Press, 1985), p. 79.
- Dick Camp, Boots on the Ground: The Fight to Liberate Afghanistan from Al-Qaeda and the Taliban (Zenith, 2012), pp. 8-9.
- Gilles Dorronsoro, Revolution Unending: Afghanistan, 1979 to the Present, Columbia University Press, 2005), p. 87.
- Jagmohan Meher, America's Afghanistan War: The Success that Failed (Kalpaz Publications, 2004), p. 64.
- John Prados, Safe for Democracy: The Secret Wars of the CIA (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006), p. 468.
- Mohammad Khalid Ma'aroof, Afghanistan in World Politics: A Study of Afghan-U.S. Relations (Gian Publishing House, 1987), p. 117.
- Shawn Dorman, Inside a U.S. Embassy: How the Foreign Service Works for America (American Foreign Service Association, 2003), p. 104.
- Robert C. Gray & Stanley J. Michalak, American Foreign Policy Since Détente (Harper & Row, 1984), p. 99.
- Diego Cordovez & Selig S. Harrison, Out of Afghanistan: The Inside Story of the Soviet Withdrawal (Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 34-35.
- Jagmohan Meher, America's Afghanistan War: The Success that Failed (Gyan Books, 2004), p. 64.
- Anthony Arnold, Afghanistan, the Soviet Invasion in Perspective (Hoover Press, 1985), p. 154.
- J. Bruce Amstutz, Afghanistan: The First Five Years of Soviet Occupation (Diane Publishing, 1994), p. 44.
- Samuel M. Katz, Relentless Pursuit: The DSS and the Manhunt for the Al-Qaeda Terrorists (Macmillan, 2002), p. 288.
- U.S. Foreign Police and the Third World: Agenda 1968-86 (John W. Sewell, Richard E. Feinburg, & Valeriana Kallab, eds., Overseas Development Council, 1985), pp. 125-26.
- PDF wilsoncenter.org
- Christopher Andrews and Vasili Mitrokhin, The World Was Going Our Way: The KGB and the Battle for the Third World (New York: Basic Books, 2005), 391.
- American Foreign Service Association
- Adolph Dubs, Lieutenant Commander, United States Navy, Foreign Service Officer at unofficial Arlington National Cemetery website, written by Bruce Byers, USIS Press Attaché in Afghanistan under Dubs
- The Last Ambassador to Afghanistan, Beloit College magazine, 2002
- Death Behind a Keyhole: Protests over a perverse tragedy in Afghanistan - TIME
- Adolph Dubs nndb.com
Theodore L. Eliot, Jr.
|United States Ambassador to Afghanistan
J. Bruce Amstutz
(Ambassador in 2002)