Examples of Excellence

From among the legions of outstanding diplomats who have served the United States since the middle of the 20th century, the following 25 individuals were chosen to exemplify the highest standards of the profession. The list is by no means intended to be exhaustive, or to suggest that others are not equally, if not more, deserving of such attention.


Philip C. Habib (1920-1992)

Philip Habib, who became an authority on both East Asia and the Middle East, was deeply respected for his abilities as a peace negotiator and special envoy to some of the world's most dangerous flash points. He began his Foreign Service career with postings in Canada, New Zealand and Trinidad. In 1965, Habib served as political counselor in Saigon just as the Vietnam War was escalating. With a keen interest in the region, Habib quickly became a leading expert on Southeast Asian affairs and subsequently served in Washington as Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. He was also a presidential delegate to the Vietnam peace talks in Paris for three-and-a-half years. Habib left Paris in 1971 and accepted appointment as ambassador to South Korea until 1974. From 1976 to 1978, he served as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. Though forced to retire in 1980 for health reasons, only a year later he began a series of high-profile specialist assignments to the Middle East, Central America and the Philippines during the presidency of Ronald Reagan. His tough and shrewd negotiation skills were on full display during his successful effort to broker an Israeli pullout from Lebanon in 1981, an accomplishment for which Habib was awarded the presidential Medal of Freedom in 1982. In May 2006 he was honored with a stamp by the U.S. Postal Service.

  • Boykin, John. Cursed is the Peacemaker: The American Diplomat vs. the Israel General, Beirut 1982. Belmont, CA: Applegate Press, 2002.