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Ryan C. Crocker

In office
March 26, 2007 – February 13, 2009
President George W. Bush
Barack Obama
Preceded by Zalmay Khalilzad
Succeeded by Christopher R. Hill

In office
2004 – March 2007
President George W. Bush
Preceded by Nancy Jo Powell
Succeeded by Anne Patterson

In office
1998 – 2001
President Bill Clinton
Preceded by Christopher W.S. Ross
Succeeded by Theodore H. Kattouf

In office
1994 – 1997
President Bill Clinton
Preceded by Edward Gnehm
Succeeded by James A. Larocco

In office
1990 – 1993
President George H. W. Bush
Preceded by John Thomas McCarthy
Succeeded by Mark Gregory Hambley

Born June 19, 1949 (1949-06-19) (age 60)
Spokane, Washington
Spouse(s) Christine Barnes[1]
Profession Diplomat, Career Ambassador
Awards Presidential Medal of Freedom

Ryan Clark Crocker (born on June 19, 1949 in Spokane, Washington)[2] is a Career Ambassador within the United States Foreign Service and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He was the United States Ambassador to Iraq until 2009; he previously served as the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan from 2004 to 2007, to Syria from 1998 to 2001, to Kuwait from 1994 to 1997, and to Lebanon from 1990 to 1993. He will commence as the Dean of Texas A&M University's George Bush School of Government and Public Service in January 2010.[3]

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell called Crocker "one of our very best foreign service officers";[4] President George W. Bush called him America's Lawrence of Arabia and noted that General David Petraeus had said that "it was a great honor for me to be his military wingman."[1]


Education and career

Growing up, Crocker had family members in the U.S. Air Force and in Turkey. He lived in Morocco, Canada and Turkey.[4] Crocker attended University College Dublin and Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, where he received a B.A. in English literature in 1971 and was initiated into Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity.

After Persian language training, he was assigned to the American 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, and 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. Crocker served in Beirut, Lebanon as chief of the political section from 1981 to 1984; while there, he survived the 1983 United States Embassy bombing.[1]

He spent the 1984-85 academic year at Princeton University under State Department auspices pursuing course work in Near Eastern studies. He 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 from 1987 to 1990. Following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, Crocker became the Director of the Iraq-Kuwait Task Force.

In 1998, as the Ambassador to Syria, his residence was plundered by an angry mob.[1]

In January 2002, he was appointed interim envoy to the new government of Afghanistan, and was confirmed as Ambassador to Pakistan in October 2004. In September 2004, President Bush conferred on him the Diplomatic rank of Career Ambassador, the highest rank in the Foreign Service, equivalent to a four-star officer in the military.[5] On January 8, 2007, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced that the Bush administration would nominate Crocker as the new American Ambassador to Iraq, replacing Zalmay Khalilzad, once the latter's confirmation to the post of Ambassador to the UN was complete. Ambassador Patricia A. Butenis is the Chargé d'Affaires pending the confirmation and presentation of credentials of Ambassador Christopher Hill. On December 4, 2009, The Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, in College Station, TX, announced the appointment of Ambassador Crocker as its next Dean, effective January 25, 2010.

Quote on the duties of a diplomat

a diplomat primarily represents his country in the receiving country to promote interests between the two states

Upon being asked about how changing administrations and changes within administrations impact the job of a diplomat by Whitman College magazine, Crocker gave the following reply[2]:

Each administration has its own priorities and style. The job of the career foreign service officer is to offer his best advice as policy is formulated and then to implement that policy. Our elected leaders need to have confidence that we will carry out policies to the best of our ability.

2002 memo concerning Iraq

According to the book, Soldier: The Life of Colin Powell by Washington Post reporter Karen DeYoung, as the Bush administration was preparing for war with Iraq in late 2002, then Secretary of State, Colin Powell ordered Crocker and then Special Assistant to the Secretary of State, William Burns to prepare a secret memo examining the risks associated with a U.S. invasion of Iraq.[6] The six-page memo, titled "The Perfect Storm", stated that toppling Saddam Hussein could unleash long-repressed sectarian and ethnic tensions, that the Sunni minority would not easily relinquish power, and that powerful neighbors such as Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia would try to move in to influence events. It also cautioned that the United States would have to start from scratch building a political and economic system because Iraq's infrastructure was in tatters.[6]

Testimony before U.S. Congress

On September 10, 2007 Crocker and Commander of the Multi-National Forces in Iraq David H. Petraeus testified before the U.S. House of Representatives about the status of the Iraq war. Similar testimony was given on the following day to the U.S. Senate. In their "Report to Congress on the Situation in Iraq", Crocker stated that "It is no exaggeration to say that Iraq is - and will remain for some time - a traumatized society."

Regarding the politics of Iraq, he said, "In many respects, the debates currently occurring in Iraq are akin to those surrounding our civil rights movement or struggle over states rights." He also said, "I do believe that Iraq's leaders have the will to tackle the country's pressing problems, although it will take longer than we originally anticipated because of the environment and the gravity of the issues before them." Crocker argued that "a secure, stable democratic Iraq at peace with its neighbors is attainable."[7]


Crocker (right) is presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom; (from left: President George W. Bush, First Lady Laura Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Crocker)

Crocker has received a Presidential Distinguished Service Award in 1994[5], the State Department Secretary's Distinguished Service Award[8] in 2008, and the Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Award in 1997 [5] and 2008. He also holds the State Department Distinguished Honor Award, Award for Valor, three Superior Honor Awards and the American Foreign Service Association Rivkin Award.

Crocker was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush on January 15, 2009; the citation read:[1]

For nearly four decades, Ryan Crocker has advanced our nation's interests and ideals around the world. Embodying the highest principles of the United States Foreign Service, he has cultivated and enhanced our relations with pivotal nations. Following the attacks of September 11th, 2001, he worked to build a worldwide coalition to combat terrorism and help millions of oppressed people travel the path to liberty and democracy. The United States honors Ryan C. Crocker for his courage, his integrity, and his unwavering commitment to strengthening our nation and building a freer and more peaceful world.


United States Ambassador Ryan Crocker has a poster of the single sleeve of the British heavy metal band Iron Maiden's "2 Minutes to Midnight" song in his office.[9]


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