Ambassador to Afghanistan: Who Is James Cunningham?
Saturday, July 28, 2012
(photo-Department of State)
President Barack Obama, opting for continuity as the U.S. prepares to draw down its military presence in the war torn nation of Afghanistan by the end of 2014, on July 17 nominated veteran diplomat James B. Cunningham, currently deputy Ambassador to Kabul, to succeed current Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who is retiring two years earlier than planned because of health reasons. Cunningham has been Crocker’s deputy since June 2011.
Born in 1952 in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Cunningham earned Bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and Psychology at Syracuse University in 1974.
After early postings in Stockholm, Sweden; Washington D.C.; Rome, Italy; and the U.S. Mission to NATO in Brussels, Belgium, in 1988 newly elected NATO Secretary General Manfred Woerner appointed Cunningham as deputy chief of staff, and in January 1989 as chief of staff. In that capacity, Cunningham advised Woerner during the unification of Germany and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union.
Shortly after Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, Cunningham became deputy political counselor at the U.S. Mission to the UN, followed by service as Director of the State Department Office of European Security and Political Affairs from 1993 to 1995. He served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Rome from 1996 to 1999.
Returning to the United Nations, Cunningham served as deputy U.S. permanent representative to the UN from 1999 to 2004, including the first nine months of 2001 as acting permanent representative. He then served his first tour in Asia, as Consul General in Hong Kong from August 2005 to July 20008, responsible for the Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions of China.
Cunningham’s first ambassadorship was a prominent one, as he served as Ambassador to Israel from August 2008 to June 2011, where he received high marks in a State Department Inspector General report regarding the mission in Tel Aviv.
Cunningham is married to Leslie Genier of Mineville, New York. They have two daughters. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Asia Society. He speaks Italian, French, and Spanish and has studied Mandarin.
Our Man in Israel (by Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers, Maxwell Perspective)
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