Conversations with History: Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley

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 Habib

The Work of Diplomacy: Conversation with Philip Habib; 5/14/82, by Harry Kreisler

This interview is part of the Institute's "Conversations with History" series, and uses Internet technology to share with the public Berkeley's distinction as a global forum for ideas.

Welcome to a "Conversation on International Affairs." I'm Harry Kreisler of the Institute of International Studies. Our guest today is Philip C. Habib, former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs and Special Presidential Envoy to the Middle East. Ambassador Habib was born in Brooklyn in 1920. He graduated from the University of Idaho in 1942, and the University of California at Berkeley, where he earned a Ph.D., in 1952. Between the two degrees, he served in the army from 1942 to 1946, rising to the rank of captain.

A career foreign service officer, Ambassador Habib joined the Foreign Service in 1949, serving in American embassies in Ottawa, New Zealand, South Korea, and Saigon, and in State Department posts before being named to the American delegation to the Vietnam peace talks in 1968. From 1971 to 1974 he was Ambassador to South Korea. At the State Department he has served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs from 1967 to 1969; and Assistant Secretary from 1974 to 1978. From 1976 to 1978, he was Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, the highest career position in the Foreign Service.

In the spring on 1981 Ambassador Habib was recalled from his retirement by President Reagan and appointed Special Envoy to the Middle East. In a tour de force of shuttle diplomacy, he averted the outbreak of war in that troubled region and negotiated a cease-fire. His masterful diplomacy in defusing the crisis won him international acclaim as America's preeminent professional diplomat.

During the spring semester, Ambassador Habib is being honored by his alma mater, UC Berkeley. He is the speaker at the 114th Charter Day convocation where he will receive the Berkeley Citation, the highest award bestowed by UC Berkeley. Simultaneously, he has been appointed Regents' Lecturer at the Institute of International Studies and the Institute of East Asian Studies.

  1. Background ... child of Depression ... memories of Berkeley ... entry into the foreign service ... glory days of foreign policy ... achievements
  2. The Diplomat's Role ... abroad ... at home ... as civil servant ... losing touch
  3. Foreign Policy in a Democracy ... fragmented American political system ... openness of debate ... virtues of broad-base and vigorous debate ... creating consensus
  4. Formulating Foreign Policy ... defining national interest ... representation ... understanding the world ... importance of consultation with experts ... human rights in the Cold War
  5. Crisis Diplomacy ... process ... U.S. role ... prerequisites ... future of shuttle diplomacy ... comparison with normal diplomacy
  6. The Art of Negotiation ... humor ... narrowing the gap ... treaties ... great diplomats ... memoirs ... role of the press ... U.S. role in the coming decades

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