John W. Limbert
John Limbert was appointed Distinguished Professor of International Affairs at the U.S. Naval Academy in August 2006 after retiring from the Foreign Service with 33 years of service and the rank of Minister-Counselor. His last postings before retirement were as Dean of the Foreign Service Institute’s School of Language Studies and, on temporary assignment, as Chief of Mission in Khartoum, Sudan. Ambassador Limbert was president of the American Foreign Service Association (2003-2005) and Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania (2000-2003). While serving as Ambassador, he was one of the first civilian officials to enter Baghdad in April 2003, with the Organization for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance. There he was responsible for cultural affairs, including restoring the looted Iraqi Museum. In March-May of 2004 he returned to Iraq, leading a team in support of the U.S. mission there. Earlier he had been Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism in the U.S. State Department (2000); member of the State Department’s Senior Seminar (1997-98); Deputy Chief of Mission at the United States Embassy in Conakry, Guinea (1994-97); and Director of Orientation at the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute in Washington (1992-94).
Ambassador Limbert first joined the Foreign Service in 1973, and his overseas experience also included tours in Algeria, Djibouti, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. From 1981 to 1984 he taught Political Science at the U.S. Naval Academy, and in 1991-92 he was a Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s Center for International Affairs.
Ambassador Limbert graduated from the D.C. public schools and holds his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from Harvard University, the last in History and Middle Eastern Studies. Before joining the Foreign Service, he taught in Iran, both as a Peace Corps Volunteer (1964-66) and as an English instructor at Shiraz University (1969-72). He has written numerous articles on Middle Eastern subjects and has authored Iran: At War with History (Westview Press, 1987) and Shiraz in the Age of Hafez (University of Washington Press, 2004).
Ambassador Limbert holds the Department of State’s highest award – the Distinguished Service Award – and other department awards, including the Award for Valor, which he received after fourteen months as a hostage in Iran. He also holds the American Foreign Service Association’s Rivkin Award for creative dissent. His foreign languages are Persian, Arabic, and French. He became a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy in 2011.