Ambassador John Limbert
John Limbert is Class of 1955 Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the U.S. Naval Academy, where he teaches courses in history and political science. During a 34-year career in the United States Foreign Service. he served mostly in the Middle East and Islamic Africa, including at posts in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. He was president of the American Foreign Service Association (2003-05) and ambassador to Mauritania (2000-03). In 2009-2010, while on leave from the Naval Academy, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary, responsible for Iranian affairs, in the State Department’s Bureau of Near East Affairs.
A native of Washington, D.C., John Limbert earned his B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University, the last degree in History and Middle Eastern Studies. Before joining the Foreign Service he taught in Iran as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kurdistan (1964-66) and as an instructor at Shiraz University (1969-72). He has written numerous articles and books on Middle Eastern subjects including Iran at War with History (Westview Press, 1987), Shiraz in the Age of Hafez (University of Washington Press, 2004), and Negotiating with Iran: Wrestling the Ghosts of History (U.S. Institute of Peace, 2009).
John Limbert holds the Department of State’s highest award – the Distinguished Service Award – and the department’s Award for Valor, which he received in 1981 after fourteen months as a hostage in Iran. His foreign languages are Persian, Arabic, and French.