Ambassador to Greece: Who Is David Pearce?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The next U.S. ambassador to Greece—a nation currently being driven by creditor-imposed austerity to levels of under-development and poverty not seen in Europe for many years—will be a Middle East expert who started his career as a journalist. David D. Pearce, who has been serving as both principal deputy in the Office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan and as a deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs since July 2012, would succeed Daniel Bennett, who has served in Athens since 2010.


Born in Portland, Maine, on June 9, 1950, Pearce grew up in Falmouth and graduated Cheverus High School in 1968. Pearce earned his B.A. in Classics at Bowdoin College in 1972 and an M.A. in Journalism at Ohio State University a year later. 


Following graduation, Pearce worked as a reporter and foreign correspondent from 1973 to 1979, for the Associated Press in Ohio, the Rome Daily American in Italy, United Press International in Brussels, Belgium, Lisbon, Portugal, and Beirut, Lebanon, where he met and married his wife, Leyla Baroody. He then moved to The Washington Post, where he worked as a copy editor on both the foreign and metro desks, and from 1980 to 1981 was a writer-editor in the book service of the National Geographic Society.


Joining the State Department in January 1982, Pearce served his first overseas posting as vice consul and political officer in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He then served as a watch officer in the State Department Operations Center from 1984 to 1985, and as a country desk officer for Greece from 1985 to 1987. 


After studying Arabic at the Foreign Service Institute field school in Tunis, Tunisia, Pearce served as chief of the political section at the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait and, during the Gulf War, as a liaison officer with the Kuwaiti government-in-exile. 


Pearce returned to Washington in 1991 to serve as a special assistant to the under secretary of state for political affairs, and took a sabbatical leave from 1992 to 1993 to write a book on diplomacy and media entitled Wary Partners: Diplomats and the Media, published in 1994.


Upon his return to work, Pearce served as consul general in Dubai, UAE, from 1994 to 1997, and as deputy chief of mission at the embassy in Damascus, Syria, from 1997 to 2001. Back in DC, he served as director of the State Department’s Office of Northern Gulf Affairs, with responsibility for Iraq and Iran from September 2001 to July 2003, including a stint with the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad from May to June 2003. 


Pearce then served four straight overseas assignments, as chief of mission and consul general at the Consulate General in Jerusalem, Israel, from 2003 to 2005; as minister counselor for political affairs at the embassy in Rome from 2005-2008 (where he also made excursion tours to Iraq as a senior advisor to Ambassador Ryan Crocker); as ambassador to Algeria from 2008 to 2011; and as assistant chief of mission at the embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, from 2011 to July 2012.


Pearce’s stint in Algeria coincided with increased cooperation between the Algerian government and the U.S. government in the battle against al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, a partnership that included providing the Algerians with military radios and fingerprint identification kits, not to mention Boeing-made airplanes and gas-powered turbines. In exchange, the U.S. imported billions of dollars worth of Algerian oil and natural gas.


Pearce speaks Arabic, French, Italian and some Farsi.


David Pearce married Leyla Baroody of Beirut, Lebanon, in 1978. The couple has two children.

-Matt Bewig


To Learn More:

Official Biography

Testimony at Bradley Manning Trial


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