Monday, March 05, 2007

Perspective: Ryan Crocker -- a reputation for toughness and working behind the scenes

WASHINGTON - Ryan Crocker first earned his reputation for toughness as a young diplomat in Beirut in the mid-1980s, when he would go jogging with the Marine guards. The Marines gave him the code name "Popeye," after the spinach-chomping, straight-talking and decidedly unglamorous cartoon character.

"Like Popeye, Ryan is wiry and tough, and he does not go in for pretenses and fancy frills," said David Mack, a retired diplomat who served with Crocker in Lebanon.

Throughout his diplomatic career, Crocker, the newly appointed U.S. ambassador to Iraq, has been known for his quiet competence. From his first posting in Khorramshar, Iran, in 1972 to the job of ambassador to Pakistan that he has held since 2004, Crocker has had a reputation as intellectually rigorous but relentlessly understated.

And that, some say, is what is needed in Iraq right now. "He's probably the best man for an impossible situation," said Mahmud Ali-Durrani, Pakistan's ambassador to the U.S.

Read the rest at the Philadelphia Enquirer