Ryan Crocker

Ryan Crocker
Ryan C Crocker.jpg
Member of the International Broadcasting Advisory Board
Assumed office
August 1, 2013
President Barack Obama
Donald Trump
Preceded by Victor Ashe
United States Ambassador to Afghanistan
In office
July 25, 2011 – July 23, 2012
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Karl Eikenberry
Succeeded by James B. Cunningham
In office
January 2, 2002 – April 3, 2002
President George W. Bush
Preceded by James Dobbins (acting)
Succeeded by Robert Finn
United States Ambassador to Iraq
In office
March 31, 2007 – February 13, 2009
President George W. Bush
Barack Obama
Preceded by Zalmay Khalilzad
Succeeded by Christopher R. Hill
United States Ambassador to Pakistan
In office
November 25, 2004 – March 28, 2007
President George W. Bush
Preceded by Nancy Jo Powell
Succeeded by Anne W. Patterson
United States Ambassador to Syria
In office
June 6, 1999 – June 30, 2001
President Bill Clinton
Preceded by Christopher W.S. Ross
Succeeded by Theodore H. Kattouf
United States Ambassador to Kuwait
In office
September 7, 1994 – December 4, 1997
President Bill Clinton
Preceded by Edward Gnehm
Succeeded by James Larocco
United States Ambassador to Lebanon
In office
November 29, 1990 – August 14, 1993
President George H. W. Bush
Bill Clinton
Preceded by John Thomas McCarthy
Succeeded by Mark Gregory Hambley
Personal details
Ryan Clark Crocker

(1949-06-19) June 19, 1949 (age 71)
Spokane, Washington, U.S.
Spouse(s) Christine Barnes
Education Whitman College (BA)
Awards Presidential Medal of Freedom

Ryan Clark Crocker (born June 19, 1949) is a former career ambassador within the United States Foreign Service and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He has served as United States Ambassador to Afghanistan (2011–2012), Iraq (2007–2009), Pakistan (2004–2007), Syria (1998–2001), Kuwait (1994– 1997), and Lebanon (1990–1993). In January 2010, he became Dean of Texas A&M University's George Bush School of Government and Public Service.[1]

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell called Crocker "one of our very best foreign service officers".[2] 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".[3]

Early life and career

Crocker was born in Spokane, Washington.[4] Growing up, he had family members in the U.S. Air Force and in Turkey. He lived in Morocco, Canada and Turkey.[2] Crocker attended University College Dublin and Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in English literature in 1971 and was a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity.

He joined the United States Foreign Service, and 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. On September 18, 1982, he reported back to the Department of State about the Sabra and Shatila massacre.[5] He also survived the 1983 United States Embassy bombing.[3]

He spent the 1984–85 academic year at Princeton University as a mid-career fellow under State Department auspices, 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.[3]

In the days after the 9/11 attacks, Crocker and other senior U.S. State Department officials flew to Geneva to meet secretly with representatives of the government of Iran. For several months, Crocker and his Iranian counterparts under Major General Qasem Soleimani cooperated on capturing Al Qaeda operatives in the region and fighting the Taliban government in Afghanistan. These meetings stopped after the "Axis of Evil" speech hardened Iranian attitudes toward cooperating with the U.S.[6]

In January 2002, he was appointed interim chargé d'affaires 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.[7] 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 that Khalilzad's confirmation to the post of Ambassador to the UN was complete.

On December 4, 2009 The Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, in College Station, Texas, announced the appointment of Crocker as its next Dean, effective January 25, 2010.

Although retired from the State Department and the Foreign Service, Crocker was called upon by the Obama Administration and nominated by President Barack Obama in April 2011 to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan.[8][9][10] The appointment was confirmed by the United States Senate by unanimous consent on June 30, 2011.[11] In July 2012 he stepped down, as announced in May due to unspecified health reasons.[12][12][13]

On August 14, 2012, he was arrested for driving while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an automobile accident.[14] In November he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of reckless driving.[15] During court proceedings, it was stated that Crocker had been administered two blood alcohol tests after the accident, with the results of .160 and .152 percent both exceeding the legal limit of .08.[16] In addition, Crocker's attorney indicated that at the time of the accident, he had recently undergone brain surgery to treat a subdural hematoma, which might have negatively affected his cognitive abilities.[16] Crocker was sentenced to a 30-day suspension of his driver's license, a $1,000 fine, and 24 months of probation.[16] In addition, he was required to make restitution for the damage he caused to the other vehicle involved in the accident.[16]

On May 10, 2013, he was nominated to serve as a member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors.[17]

In December 2013, he voiced his opinion that America should quietly work with the Syrian government, despite its involvement in the Syrian Civil War, as a lesser of the evils.[18][19]

Quote on the duties of a diplomat

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:[4]

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.[20] 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 in building a political and economic system because Iraq's infrastructure was in tatters.[20]

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."[21]


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,[7] the State Department Secretary's Distinguished Service Award[22] in 2008 and 2012, the Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Awards in 1997 [7] and 2008, and the Defense Distinguished Public Service Award in 2012. He also holds the State Department Distinguished Honor Award, Award for Valor, three Superior Honor Awards, and the American Foreign Service Association Rivkin Award.

Gold star
Gold star
Gold star
Bronze oak leaf cluster

Crocker was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush on January 15, 2009; the citation read:[3]

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.

When he stepped down in July 2012 as ambassador in Kabul, Crocker was named an Honorary Marine by the United States Marine Corps.[23]

In 2013, he received an honorary doctorate degree from the American University of Afghanistan, an institution he supports.[24]


  1. ^ The Bush School of Government and Public Service (2009). Ambassador Crocker Named Dean of TAMU's Bush School. Retrieved December 7, 2009.
  2. ^ a b Slavin, Barbara (2007-09-10). "Crocker: A modern 'Lawrence of Arabia'". USA Today. Retrieved 2007-09-10.
  3. ^ a b c d White House (2009). President Bush Commemorates Foreign Policy Achievements and Presents Medal of Freedom to Ambassador Ryan Crocker. Retrieved January 16, 2009.
  4. ^ a b Whitman College Magazine interview with Ryan Crocker (pdf)
  5. ^ George P. Shultz, Turmoil and Triumph: My Years as Secretary of State (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1993), page 104.
  6. ^ Dexter Filkins (September 30, 2013). "Dexter Filkins: Qassem Suleimani, the Middle East's Most Powerful Operative". The New Yorker. Retrieved December 18, 2013.
  7. ^ a b c About Ambassador Crocker, U.S. Department of State website Archived 2013-01-21 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ The Atlantic (2011). Panetta Will Run Pentagon; Petraeus to Lead CIA. Retrieved April 27, 2011.
  9. ^ Yochi J. Dreazen, Marc Ambinder (April 26, 2011). "White House to Send Ryan Crocker to Kabul, Recreating Iraq 'Dream Team'". National Journal. Archived from the original on May 1, 2011.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  10. ^ "Ryan Crocker". WhoRunsGov.com. Archived from the original on 2011-05-18.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-11-26. Retrieved 2012-05-22.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ a b "Veteran U.S. diplomat Ryan Crocker to step down in summer". BNO News. 23 May 2012. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
  13. ^ "Retiring Envoy to Afghanistan Exhorts U.S to Heed Its Past"
  14. ^ Heil, Emily (August 24, 2012). "Ryan Crocker, former ambassador, charged with DUI, leaving the scene in Washington state". The Washington Post.
  15. ^ Clouse, Thomas (November 22, 2012). "Crocker accepts DUI plea deal". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, WA.
  16. ^ a b c d "Crocker accepts DUI plea deal"
  17. ^ White House Office of the Press Secretary
  18. ^ https://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21594993-president-bashar-assads-hopes-are-rising-he-may-be-able-use-conference Syria’s civil war: Can he manipulate the West?
  19. ^ Assad Is the Least Worst Option The New York Times, The Opinion Pages, Room for Debate, December 21, 2013.
  20. ^ a b "A Diplomat Who Loves the Really Tough Jobs" by Robin Wright, The Washington Post
  21. ^ "Report to Congress on the Situation in Iraq: Ambassador Crocker." 10 Sept 2007. retrieved 10 September 2007.
  22. ^ United States Department of State
  23. ^ "U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan named Honorary Marine" Archived 2012-07-30 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-08-15. Retrieved 2014-03-02.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External links