2016 – US Interests in a Fragmenting Middle East

Texas Tech University
March 7, 2016 – 5:30 p.m.
International Cultural Center Auditorium,
601 Indiana Avenue – Lubbock, Texas

The Ambassadors Forum included several panel discussions at Texas Tech University, with high school students, college students and general public.

Former ambassadors Robert Ford, John Limbert, Ronald Neumann and Richard Hoagland discussed US interests in today’s chaotic Middle East. Ambassador Hoagland moderated the panel. The panel discussion with the ambassadors took place at the International Cultural Center auditorium, located at 601 Indiana Ave., and was free and open to the public. The panel discussion was sponsored by the Office of International Affairs, Center for Global Understanding and the CH Foundation.


Ambassador Nagy welcomes the speakers at Texas Tech
Ambassador Nagy welcomes the speakers at Texas Tech

“Texas Tech is delighted to partner with the Center for Global Understanding and the CH Foundation to bring this group of foreign policy experts to Lubbock,” said Ambassador Tibor Nagy, vice provost for International Affairs. “The American Academy of Diplomacy includes some of our nation’s most senior and knowledgeable diplomats and other foreign affairs officials, and we are pleased to have this group coming to share their expertise on events in the Middle East.”



News coverage of the Texas Tech discussion:


Robert Ford, U.S. Ambassador to Syria (2011-14)

Robert Ford

Ford retired from the U.S. Foreign Service in 2014 after serving as the U.S. Ambassador to Syria from 2011 to 2014. During his time as ambassador, Ford was the State Department leader on Syria in the Obama administration, proposing and implementing policies and developing common strategies with European and Middle Eastern allies to help resolve the Syrian conflict. Ford also served as ambassador to Iraq (2008-10) and Algeria (2006-08). From 2001 to 2004 he served as deputy chief of mission in Bahrain and political counselor to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad from 2004 to 2006 during the establishment of the new Iraqi government.

Richard Hoagland, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan (2011-13), Kazakhstan (2008-11) and Tajikistan (2003-06)

Richard Hoagland spoke about LGBT issues in the world and how they affect foreign policy.

Hoagland serves as one of America’s leading diplomats in South and Central Asia and was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South- and Central-Asian Affairs from 2013 to 2015. Hoagland has held many titles during his service, such as ambassador to Pakistan (2011-13), Kazakhstan (2008-11) and Tajikistan (2003-06); U.S. Charge d’affairs to Turkmenistan (2007-08); director of the Office of Caucasus and Central Asian Affairs in the Bureau of Europe and Eurasian Affairs, Department of State (2001-03); director of the Office of Public Diplomacy in the South Asia Bureau of the State Department (1999-2001); and Special Adviser to the National Security Council for public diplomacy on Afghanistan. Hoagland also works to raise discussion about human rights issues facing the LGBT community both in the United States and internationally. He is a founding member of the State Department’s Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies. In 2011, Hoagland spurred great controversy at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad when he held its first LGBT pride celebration.

John Limbert, U.S. Ambassador to Islamic Republic of Mauritania (2000-03)

Limbert, a leading expert on Iranian politics and history, began his diplomatic career in Tehran in 1979 where he was one of 52 U.S. Embassy USAmbassadorForum095officials held hostage for 444 days, on which the movie “Argo” was in part based. Since his first assignment in Tehran, Limbert has served as the president of the American Foreign Service Association (2003-05), ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania (2000-03), deputy coordinator for counterterrorism in the U.S. State Department (2000), a member of the State Department’s Senior Seminar (1997-98), deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Conakry, Guinea (1994-97), and director of orientation at the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute in Washington (1992-94).

In 2009, Limbert was appointed as the first U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iran, dealing solely with Iranian issues.

In addition to his diplomatic career, Limbert has published three books regarding issues with Iran and is a professor of international affairs at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Ronald Neumann, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan (2005-07), Bahrain (2001-04) and Algeria (1994-97)

USAmbassadorForum044 Neumann, president of the American Academy of Diplomacy and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, served as an ambassador to Algeria (1994-97), Bahrain (2001-04) and Afghanistan (2005-07). Before serving as an ambassador to Afghanistan, Neumann served in Baghdad from February 2004 to July 2005 with the Coalition Provisional Authority, then as the Embassy Baghdad’s principal liaison with the Multinational Command, where he was involved in coordinating the political part of military actions.

Also an author, Neumann wrote a book about his time in Afghanistan titled “The Other War: Winning and Losing in Afghanistan” and has written many monographs, articles and editorial pieces, focusing mostly on Afghanistan, stabilization and Bahrain. In October Neumann, along with Brookings Institution senior fellow Vanda Felbab-Brown and former Ambassador David Sedney, wrote an opinion piece for The Washington Post regarding America’s responsibility to Afghanistan titled “Don’t abandon Afghanistan too soon.”

A second-generation ambassador, Neumann was a U.S. Army infantry officer in the Vietnam War and was awarded a Bronze Star.

View all videos of panel discussion:
video 1: introduction and welcome,
video 2: Robert Ford,
video 3: John Limbert,
video 4: Ronald Neumann,
video 5: questions and answers.

View resources