Chris Stevens was the ultimate foreign service officer. He reveled in his job. You only have to glance at his official photograph to get a sense of the character of the man: always cheerful, always enthusiastic, always professional. Like those more high profile ambassadors – Ryan Crocker (U.S. ambassador in Baghdad and Kabul) and Robert Ford (U.S. ambassador in Damascus) – Chris Stevens loved to be on the front lines of American diplomacy.
I remember when I was President Clinton’s Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs and Chris was my Iran desk officer how he came to me to ask permission to start learning Farsi. We were just in the opening stages of an initiative to normalize relations with the newly-elected reformist President Khatemi, an effort which benefited greatly from Chris’s input and management. Chris told me that he wanted to be the first person on the ground in Tehran when we established diplomatic relations.
That effort didn’t work out so well, but I was not at all surprised to hear that Chris was the first American diplomat on the ground in Tripoli when the George W. Bush administration established diplomatic relations with the Qaddafi regime. Nor was it surprising that Chris became the liaison to the Libyan opposition and moved back to Benghazi to be the lead U.S. official on the ground during the effort to overthrow Qaddafi. It was therefore only fitting that he should become the first U.S. ambassador to the free republic of Libya.
The courage and determination that he demonstrated in Libya was typical of the man. He lived on the frontlines of U.S. diplomacy in the Middle East, and now he has died there on the frontlines in the pursuit of liberty – a great American has given up his life for a great American cause. May his memory be blessed.
[Trump has] given Iran the moral high ground and that is an exceptionally difficult thing to do given the history and reality of Iran's misdeeds at home and in the region. It's just malpractice on the part of an American president.
The way the Trump administration is moving forward [with its Iran policy] is just so hostile to all aspects of Iran that it’s unlikely to produce any traction with the Iranian people or to encourage divisions within the system.
The intent of [any U.S. action] to do with the IRGC is basically to cast a very broad shadow over sectors of the Iranian economy and exacerbate the compliance nightmare for foreign businesses that may be considering trade and investment with Iran.