2019 – The U.S., Iran, and Security in the Persian Gulf
November 21, 2019 the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan and the American Academy of Diplomacy co-hosted a discussion panel to enhance public understanding of critical foreign policy areas. This panel focused on U.S. diplomatic efforts in the Persian Gulf and features Ambassadors Patrick Theros, Gerald Feierstein, Ronald Neumann, and Deborah McCarthy.
Watch the Full Event Here
Ronald E. Neumann
Formerly a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Ronald E. Neumann served three times as Ambassador; to Algeria, Bahrain and finally to Afghanistan from July 2005 to April 2007. Before Afghanistan, Mr. Neumann, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, served in Baghdad from February 2004 with the Coalition Provisional Authority and then as Embassy Baghdad’s liaison with the Multinational Command, where he was deeply involved in coordinating the political part of military actions.
Prior to working in Iraq, he was Ambassador in Manama, Bahrain (2001-2004), Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Near East Affairs (1997-2000) with responsibility for North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, and Ambassador to Algeria (1994 to 1997). He was Director of the Office of Northern Gulf Affairs (Iran and Iraq; 1991 to 1994). Earlier in his career, he was Deputy Chief of Mission in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and in Sanaa in Yemen, Principal Officer in Tabriz, Iran and Economic/Commercial Officer in Dakar, Senegal. His previous Washington assignments include service as Jordan Desk officer, Staff Assistant in the Middle East (NEA) Bureau, and Political Officer in the Office of Southern European Affairs.
Ambassador Neumann is the President of the American Academy of Diplomacy and the author of a memoir, Three Embassies, Four Wars: a personal memoir (2017) and The Other War: Winning and Losing in Afghanistan (Potomac Press, 2009), a book on his time in Afghanistan. He has returned to Afghanistan repeatedly and is the author of a number of monographs, articles, and editorials. His writings have focused most heavily on Afghanistan, stabilization, and Bahrain. At the Academy he has focused particularly on efforts to maintain adequate State and USAID budgets and staffing and upgrade professional formation to enable these institutions to carry out their responsibilities. Ambassador Neumann is on the Advisory Board of a non-profit girls’ school in Afghanistan, the School of Leadership, Afghanistan (SOLA) and the Advisory Board of Spirit of America. He is on the board of the Middle East Policy Council and the Advisory Council of the World Affairs Councils of America.
Ambassador Neumann speaks some Arabic and Dari as well as French. He received State Department Superior Honor Awards in 1993 and 1990. He was an Army infantry officer in Viet Nam and holds a Bronze Star, Army Commendation Medal and Combat Infantry Badge. In Baghdad, he was awarded the Army Outstanding Civilian Service Medal. He earned a B.A. in history and an M.A. in political science from the University of California at Riverside and is a graduate of the National War College. He is married to the former M. Elaine Grimm. They have two children.
Ambassador Patrick Nickolas Theros served as the US Ambassador to the State of Qatar from 1995-1998. Prior to his appointment, he served as Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism, responsible for the coordination of all U.S. Government counterterrorism activities outside the United States. From 1991-1993, Ambassador Theros served as the Political Advisor to the Commander-in-Chief of Central Command (CENTCOM).
Ambassador Theros joined the Foreign Service in 1963, and served in a variety of positions in Washington D.C., Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Nicaragua and Syria, including charge d’affaires and Deputy Chief of Mission at the US embassies in the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.
In 1999, His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifah Al-Thani awarded Ambassador Theros the Qatar Order of Merit for his efforts in service of the US-Qatar bilateral relationship. His commitment to national service also earned him the President’s Meritorious Service Award and the Secretary of Defense Medal for Meritorious Civilian Service (1992). Ambassador Theros has also earned four Superior Honor Awards, the highest awards for distinguished service given by the Foreign Service.
After his retirement from the Foreign Service Ambassador Theros assumed the office of President of the US-Qatar Business Council in March 2000 until his retirement in 2017. He currently serves as Strategic Advisor to the Gulf International Forum, a new Washington think tank that aspires to bring objective discussion and critical research of the Arab-Persian Gulf region to the United States. He has also represented the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem in the United States since 1999.
Ambassador Theros’ personal commitment to community and public service earned him the rank of Knight Commander of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem (1999), as well as the Ellis Island Medal of Freedom (2005).
In addition to his duties as President of the US-Qatar Business Council, Ambassador Theros is also active in the following organizations:
• The Middle East Policy Council, Board of Directors;
• The Council of Foreign Relations, Member;
• The Arab American Bankers Association of America, Member;
• The Washington Institute of Foreign Affairs, Member; and
• The American Academy of Diplomacy, Member
Ambassador Theros was born in 1941 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and attended public schools in Michigan, Ohio and the District of Columbia. He graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in 1963. He has done advanced studies at the American University in Washington, D.C., the Universidad Centroamericana in Nicaragua, the Armed Forces Staff College at Norfolk, Virginia, and the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. He is married to Aspasia (nee Pahigiannis) and has three children. He speaks and reads Spanish, Arabic and Greek professionally.
Jerry Feierstein retired from the U.S. Foreign Service in May 2016 after a 41-year career. At the time of his retirement, Feierstein held the personal rank of Career Minister. Feierstein currently serves as the Senior Vice President of the Middle East Institute. Over the course of his career, he served in nine overseas postings, including three tours of duty in Pakistan, as well as tours in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Lebanon, Jerusalem, and Tunisia. In 2010, President Obama appointed Feierstein U.S. Ambassador to Yemen, where he served until 2013. From 2013 until his retirement, Feierstein was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs.
In addition to his career-long focus on the Near East and South Asia, Feierstein also played a prominent role in developing and implementing State Department policies and programs to counter violent extremism. As Deputy Coordinator and Principal Deputy Coordinator in the State Department’s Counter-Terrorism bureau, Feierstein led the development of initiatives to build regional networks to confront extremist groups as well as to counter terrorist financing and promote counter-terrorism messaging. He continued to focus on defeating terrorist groups through his subsequent tours as Deputy Chief of Mission in Pakistan and as Ambassador to Yemen.
Feierstein joined the Middle East Institute in October 2016 as a Senior Fellow and the Director of a new Center for Gulf Affairs.
Ambassador Deborah A. McCarthy is an international security strategist with over 30 years of experience in Europe, the Western Hemisphere and the U.S. She is currently a consultant with the Transnational Strategy Group in Washington D.C. Just prior, she was the Executive Director of the Diversity and Leadership Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). She moderates the American Academy of Diplomacy podcast series “The General and the Ambassador” (https://www.generalambassadorpodcast.org).
Before joining the private sector, Ms. McCarthy was a member of the U.S. Foreign Service. From 2013 to 2016, she was the U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania. Previously, she was the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs. Ms. McCarthy also served as Deputy Ambassador at the U.S. Embassy in Greece and the U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua. In Washington, she served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Narcotics and Law Enforcement, Senior Advisor for Counter Terrorism and Special Coordinator for Venezuela. Other posting include: Consul General in Montreal, Economic Counselor U.S. Embassy Paris, Financial Economist U.S. Embassy Rome and assignments in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Ms. McCarthy received a B.A. in Economics from the University of Virginia and a joint Masters in Economics and Foreign Service from Georgetown University. She is active on social media on U.S. foreign policy (Twitter: @Amb_DMcCarthy) and is an experienced public speaker. She is a member of the Atlantic Council, the American Academy of Diplomacy, the Washington Institute of Foreign Affairs, the International Women’s Forum and the Women’s Foreign Policy Group. She also serves on the Advisory Board of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and on the Policy Council of the Una Chapman Cox Foundation.