Ambassador to Afghanistan: Who is Ryan Crocker?

Monday, August 08, 2011
A retired diplomat experienced in handling tough overseas assignments, Ryan Crocker has returned to Afghanistan, where he helped reopen the U.S. embassy following the U.S. invasion in 2001. He was sworn in on July 25, 2011. This is the sixth Islamic country to which Crocker has served as U.S. ambassador.
Born on June 19, 1949, in Spokane, Washington, Crocker grew up in an Air Force family and attended schools in Morocco, Canada and Turkey, as well as the U.S. He attended the University College Dublin and Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in English literature in 1971 and was initiated into Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity.
That same year he joined the Foreign Service. After Persian language training, he was assigned to the U.S. consulate in Khorramshahr, Iran, in 1972. His subsequent assignment was to the newly-established embassy in Doha, Qatar, in 1974 as an economic-commercial officer.
In 1976, Crocker returned to Washington, DC, for long-term Arabic training. He completed the 20-month program at the Foreign Service Institutes Arabic School in Tunis in June 1978. Crocker was then assigned as chief of the economic-commercial section at the U.S. Interests Section in Baghdad, Iraq, where he met his future wife, Christine Barnes, also a Foreign Service officer.
Crocker served in Beirut, Lebanon, as chief of the political section from 1981 to 1984. During this time, he reported to the State Department in September 1982 about the massacres at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. He also survived the 1983 U.S. embassy bombing.
He spent the 1984-1985 academic year at Princeton University under State Department auspices pursuing course work in Near Eastern studies.
Crocker served as deputy director of the Office of Israel and Arab-Israeli affairs from 1985 to 1987, and was political counselor at the American embassy in Cairo, Egypt, from 1987 to 1990. Following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, he became the director of the Iraq-Kuwait Task Force.
During the 1990s, Crocker served as ambassador to Lebanon (1990-1993), ambassador to Kuwait (1994-1997) and ambassador to Syria (1998-2001). In 1998, his residence was plundered by a Syrian mob.
He was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs from August 2001 to May 2003, during which time he was sent to Afghanistan in January 2002 to reopen the U.S. embassy in Kabul.
In late 2002, as the Bush administration prepared to invade Iraq, Crocker helped prepare a secret memo examining the risks associated with a U.S. attack on the country. The document warned that toppling Saddam Hussein could result in sectarian violence and ethnic tensions. It also forewarned that the Sunni minority would not give up power easily, that Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia would jockey for influence in Iraqi affairs and that the U.S. would have to rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure from scratch.
From May to August 2003, he was in Baghdad as the first director of governance for the Coalition Provisional Authority. He then served as the international affairs advisor at the National War College, joining the faculty in 2003.
The following year Crocker was posted to Pakistan, as U.S. ambassador, a position he held until March 2007, when he took over the same duty for the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.
Crocker retired from the State Department in May 2009, and eight months later, became dean of the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, in College Station, Texas.
In April, President Barack Obama coaxed Crocker to come out of retirement and assume his old job as ambassador to Afghanistan.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Profile (Wikipedia)
Ryan C. Crocker (Bush School of Government and Public Service)


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