Ambassador to Indonesia: Who Is Robert Blake?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The next ambassador to Indonesia, hoem to the world’s largest Islamic population, will be veteran ambassador Robert O. Blake, Jr., who has served as assistant secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs since May 2009. Blake, whose diplomat father served as ambassador to Mali from 1971 to 1973, has extensive experience in Muslim countries. Nominated by President Barack Obama on July 31, if confirmed by the Senate Blake would succeed Scot Marciel, who has served in Jakarta since August 2010.


Born in 1958, Blake earned his BA from Harvard in 1980 and an MA in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in 1984. He joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1985, and served at the American embassies in Tunisia, Algeria, Nigeria and Egypt. He has also held a number of positions at the State Department in Washington.


In his first South Asian posting, Blake served as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India, from 2003 to 2006. From 2006 to 2009, he served as ambassador to Sri Lanka, which was in the final throes of a twenty-five-year-long civil war between the Tamil Tiger separatists, who wanted an independent homeland for the island’s Tamil minority, and the Sinhalese-dominated government. Blake was criticized for his advocacy of a political solution to the conflict, which he mistakenly argued could not be resolved by force of arms. In February 2007 at a Sri Lankan airbase, Blake sustained minor injuries from a mortar blast fired by Tamil rebels, who claimed they were not informed that Blake was present and were only returning fire from the Sri Lankan Army.


Blake’s only political donations have been to Rhode Island Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse. In 2006, Blake donated $2,600 to Whitehouse’s successful Senatorial campaign, while in 2002 he donated $1,000 to his failed campaign for Governor. 


Blake and his wife, Sofia, have three daughters: Kalena, Zara, and Alexie.

-Matt Bewig


To Learn More:

Official Biography

Remarks for the Record Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (May 14, 2009) (pdf)

Testimony Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (September 25, 2013) (pdf)

U.S.-India Relations: The Making of a Comprehensive Relationship (Speech delivered at the Indian Army War College, Indore, India, August 23, 2004)

US State Dept’s Robert O. Blake, Jr. Addresses Security, Human Rights, and Democratic Reform Challenges in Central Asia (by Robert O. Blake, Jr., Islamicommentary)


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