Ryan Clark Crocker (born June 19, 1949) was a 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 to 2012) and as United States Ambassador to Iraq (2007 to 2009). Prior to those appointments, he was the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan (2004 to 2007); Syria (1998 to 2001); Kuwait (1994 to 1997); and to Lebanon (1990 to 1993). In January 2010 he became Dean of Texas A&M University's George Bush School of Government and Public Service.
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell called Crocker "one of our very best foreign service officers"; 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."
Early life and career
Crocker was born in Spokane, Washington. Growing up, Crocker had family members in the U.S. Air Force and in Turkey. He lived in Morocco, Canada and Turkey. 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 a member of the 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. On September 18, 1982, he reported back to the Department of State about the Sabra and Shatila massacre. He also survived the 1983 United States Embassy bombing.
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.
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 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.
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. 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 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. The appointment was confirmed by the United States Senate by unanimous consent on June 30, 2011. In July 2012 he stepped down, as announced in May due to unspecified health reasons.
On August 14, 2012, he was arrested for driving while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an automobile accident. In November he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of reckless driving. 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. 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. Crocker was sentenced to a 30 day suspension of his driver's license, a $1,000 fine, and 24 months of probation. In addition, he was required to make restitution for the damage he caused to the other vehicle involved in the accident.
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:
"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. 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.
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."
Crocker has received a Presidential Distinguished Service Award in 1994, the State Department Secretary's Distinguished Service Award in 2008, and the Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Award in 1997  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.
- 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.
In 2013, he received an honorary doctorate degree from the American University of Afghanistan, an institution he supports.
|Wikinews has related news: American diplomats unwilling to go to Iraq may be forced, says State Department|
- White House (2009). President Bush Commemorates Foreign Policy Achievements and Presents Medal of Freedom to Ambassador Ryan Crocker. Retrieved January 16, 2009.
- The Bush School of Government and Public Service (2009). Ambassador Crocker Named Dean of TAMU's Bush School. Retrieved December 7, 2009.
- Slavin, Barbara (2007-09-10). "Crocker: A modern 'Lawrence of Arabia'". USA Today. Retrieved 2007-09-10.
- Whitman College Magazine interview with Ryan Crocker (pdf)
- George P. Shultz, Turmoil and Triumph: My Years as Secretary of State (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1993), page 104.
- Dexter Filkins (September 30, 2013). "Dexter Filkins: Qassem Suleimani, the Middle East's Most Powerful Operative". The New Yorker. Retrieved December 18, 2013.
- About Ambassador Crocker, U.S. Department of State website
- The Atlantic (2011). Panetta Will Run Pentagon; Petraeus to Lead CIA. Retrieved April 27, 2011.
- Yochi J. Dreazen, Marc Ambinder (April 26, 2011). "White House to Send Ryan Crocker to Kabul, Recreating Iraq 'Dream Team'". National Journal.
- "Ryan Crocker". WhoRunsGov.com.
- "Veteran U.S. diplomat Ryan Crocker to step down in summer". BNO News. 23 May 2012. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
- "Retiring Envoy to Afghanistan Exhorts U.S to Heed Its Past"
- Heil, Emily (August 24, 2012). "Ryan Crocker, former ambassador, charged with DUI, leaving the scene in Washington state". The Washington Post.
- Clouse, Thomas (November 22, 2012). "Crocker accepts DUI plea deal". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, WA.
- "Crocker accepts DUI plea deal"
- "Crocker accepts DUI plea deal"
- "Crocker accepts DUI plea deal"
- "Crocker accepts DUI plea deal"
- White House Office of the Press Secretary
- http://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?
- Assad Is the Least Worst Option The New York Times, The Opinion Pages, Room for Debate, December 21, 2013.
- "A Diplomat Who Loves The Really Tough Jobs" by Robin Wright, Washington Post
- "Report to Congress on the Situation in Iraq: Ambassador Crocker." 10 Sept 2007. retrieved 10 September 2007. Archived September 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
- "U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan named Honorary Marine"
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ryan Crocker.|
- Profile at the United States Department of State
- Profile at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University (on leave)
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Ryan Crocker at the Internet Movie Database
- Works by or about Ryan Crocker in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- "Ryan Crocker collected news and commentary". The New York Times.
- 'Failed' American envoy to leave Iraq, The Independent, November 7, 2006
- Special Guest: Ambassador Ryan Crocker, Stanford Review, November 7, 2010
John Thomas McCarthy
|U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon
1990 – 1993
Mark Gregory Hambley
Edward William Gnehm, Jr.
|U.S. Ambassador to Kuwait
1994 – 1997
James A. Larocco
Christopher W.S. Ross
|U.S. Ambassador to Syria
1998 – 2001
Theodore H. Kattouf
Nancy Jo Powell
|U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan
2004 – 2007
Anne W. Patterson
|U.S. Ambassador to Iraq
March 26, 2007 - May 2009
Christopher R. Hill
|U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan
2011 - July 2012
James B. Cunningham