Lucius D. Battle

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Lucius D. Battle
Battle Truman Library.jpg
United States Ambassador
to Egypt
In office
1964–1967
Personal details
Born June 1, 1918
Dawson, Georgia, United States
Died May 13, 2008(2008-05-13) (aged 89)
Washington, D.C., United States
Spouse(s) Betty Davis Battle
Profession Diplomat

Lucius Durham Battle (June 1, 1918 – May 13, 2008), known as Luke Battle, was a career Foreign Service officer who served with distinction in Washington, Europe and the Middle East.

Early life[edit]

Battle was born on June 1, 1918 in Dawson, Georgia and his family later moved to Bradenton, Florida. He received his undergraduate (1939) and law (1946) degrees from the University of Florida, and spent World War II in the Navy serving in the Pacific theatre.

His wife, Betty Davis Battle (1924–2004), was a Stanford-educated political scientist, attorney, and arts foundation official at the Woodward Foundation, which placed works by American artists in embassies around the world.

State Department career[edit]

After the war, Battle moved to Washington with the goal of joining the foreign service. He had no prior connections and no Ivy league credentials, but with persistence he was finally hired to the Canada desk of the United States Department of State in 1946, during the administration of President Harry S. Truman. A chance encounter with Dean Acheson led to his being elevated to the position of Special Assistant to the Secretary of State. He traveled with Acheson, served as his right-hand man, attended meetings, and saw every piece of paper that entered or left the Secretary’s office. Acheson grew quite fond of his “indispensable aide,” once noting with a nod toward Battle, that a successful diplomat needs “an assistant with nerves of steel, a sense of purpose, and a Southern accent.” The two men would remain close friends for the rest of Acheson’s life.

As Acheson’s tenure was coming to a close, Battle moved overseas to serve as First Secretary in the American Embassy, Copenhagen from 1953 to 1955. Then he moved to Paris for one year at North Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarters in Paris, under Lord Ismay before returning to the States in 1956 to work with the Rockefeller Family as Vice President of Colonial Williamsburg.

After the election of President John F. Kennedy in 1960, Battle returned to Washington to rejoin the State Department as Executive Secretary (until May 1962). He next served as Assistant Secretary of State for Education and Culture (June 5, 1962 to August 20, 1964), helping to coordinate cultural events in Washington and working with Senator J. William Fulbright on the Fulbright Scholars program.

In September 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed him as U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Republic (Egypt). In Cairo, he faced a number of challenges, including the Thanksgiving Day attack on the U.S. Embassy Library, which was burned to the ground by a group of African students protesting U.S. policies. Battle was effective and well regarded by his Egyptian counterparts, despite increasing tensions between Gamal Abdel Nasser and U.S. officials.

On March 5, 1967, Battle left Egypt to return to Washington to take up the position of Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East and North Africa. (He has the rare distinction among Foreign Service officers of having held the position of Assistant Secretary twice.) Within weeks, Israel attacked Egypt and the Six Day War began.

Later career[edit]

In 1968, Battle resigned from the Foreign Service to work as Vice President of Communications Satellite Corporation (Comsat).

Battle turned down two Ambassadorial posts: to Vietnam in the Johnson administration and to Iran in 1977, thereby avoiding captivity during the Iran hostage crisis.

He became president of the Middle East Institute, from 1973 to 1975 before returning to Comsat until 1980. Next he started the Foreign Policy Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in 1980, and finished his career as president of the Middle East Institute from 1986 until his retirement in 1990.

In 1984, Ambassador Battle was awarded the Foreign Service Cup, an award given annually to a retired Foreign Service officer by Diplomatic and Consular Officers, Retired.

Affiliations[edit]

Battle served on the board of directors of a number of institutions, including:

Writings[edit]

  • Communications and the Economy: Communications and Peace, by Lucius D. Battle, 1975
  • "Peace: Inshallah", article in Foreign Policy, No. 14, Spring 1974.
  • Reminiscences of Lucius D. Battle, Oral History. 51 pp., 1974 [1]

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Philip Hall Coombs
Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs
June 5, 1962 – August 20, 1964
Succeeded by
Harry McPherson
Preceded by
Raymond A. Hare
Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs
April 5, 1967 – September 30, 1968
Succeeded by
Parker T. Hart