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John D. Negroponte: A Diplomatic Life of Controversy and Consequence

 joined the Foreign Service in 1960 and went on to serve as ambassador to Honduras, Mexico, the Philippines and Iraq.  He was also Director of National Intelligence and Deputy Secretary of State.

Some excerpts:  

On joining the Foreign Service . . . “I took the exam in my senior year, in December 1959.   I thought I had flunked. I was despondent, but it turned that the five percent extra you got for knowing a foreign language.”  (Negroponte knew French).

On Iraq . . . “If your military mission is to remove Saddam Hussein and defeat the Iraqi army, that is a relatively well defined objective and with the strength of the United States and the proper organization and the proper plan you are going to be able to do that. . . . The ensuing period involves helping them rebuild their national institutions, rebuild destroyed infrastructure, organize politically and socially again to operate a functioning society.  In most countries that is the work of generations, not days or weeks.”

Explore Ambassador Negroponte’s full oral history here.

Table of Contents


Born, London, England, 1939
Allen-Stevenson School, Buckley, Phillips Exeter Academy
Yale (1956-1960)
Entered Foreign Service, 1960

Hong Kong 1961-1963
Visa and Commercial Officer

Bureau of African Affairs, Washington, DC
Post Management Officer June-August 1963

Vietnamese Language Training 1963-1964

Saigon, Vietnam 1964-1968
Political Officer

Paris, France 1968-1969
Liaison Officer
Paris Peace Talks on Vietnam

Stanford University, Hoover Institution 1969-1970
State Department Fellow

National Security Council Staff 1970-1973

Quito, Ecuador 1973-1975
Political Counselor

Thessaloniki, Greece 1975-1977
Consul General

Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs 1977-1979
Deputy Assistant Secretary, with rank of Ambassador

East Asia and Pacific Bureau 1980-1981
Deputy Assistant Secretary

Honduras 1981-1985

Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs 1985-1987
Assistant Secretary of State

National Security Council 1987-1989
Deputy National Security Advisor

Mexico 1989-1993

Philippines 1993-1996

America Republics Affairs Bureau 1996-1997
Special Representative

Retirement 1997

McGraw Hill Companies 1997-2001
Executive Vice President for Global Markets

Permanent Representative to the United Nations 2001-2004

Iraq 2004-2005

Director of National Intelligence 2005-2007

Deputy Secretary of State 2007-2009

Retirement 2009-

McLarty Associates
Yale University
George Washington University