The political turmoil in the Middle East escalated sharply in 2016, and the coming year offers little cause for optimism. Our January speaker, a veteran highly-decorated U.S. diplomat, has been Ambassador to the most dangerous places in the greater Middle East. When President Obama presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, he called him “America’s Lawrence of Arabia.”
Ambassador Ryan Crocker is a career ambassador within the U.S. Foreign Service. He was in the Foreign Service for 37 years and, after retiring, was recalled to active duty by President Obama in 2011 to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan. His previous appointments included service as the U.S. Ambassador to Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Lebanon. Crocker became dean of Texas A&M University’s George Bush School of Government and Public Service in 2010; he moved to a faculty position earlier this year.
Crocker has received many of the nation’s highest honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award; the Presidential Distinguished Service Award; the State Department Secretary’s Distinguished Service Award; the Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Award; the State Department Distinguished Honor Award; The Award for Valor; three Superior Honor Awards and the American Foreign Service Association’s Rivkin Award. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Broadcasting Board of Govenors, and the Board of Directors of Mercy Corps International.
Born in Spokane, Washington, in a Air Force family, he lived in Morocco, Canada, and Turkey before attending Whitman College. When he stepped down as Ambassador in Kabul in 2012, Ambassador Crocker was named an Honorary Marine by the United States Marine Corps.