It’s hard to comprehend the magnitude of Ryan Crocker’s transition to retirement in Spokane Valley.
That’s largely because it’s all but impossible to comprehend the life Crocker has led and the role he has played for the past two years at the center of the world’s most volatile geopolitical arena. As U.S. ambassador to Iraq, he has been our country’s diplomatic eyes, ears and voice. On the ground he has represented U.S. interests and explained U.S. expectations to that nation’s struggling government.
At home, his assessments of events in the Middle East have helped Congress and the White House shape the direction of U.S. policy and have contributed to the world media’s – and hence the world’s – grasp of conditions there. Wherever he travels, his comments are quotable and authoritative.
Under the most favorable circumstances – if there is any such thing in that line of work – the responsibility on his shoulders was immense, but even more so when military conflict abroad is complicated by political tension at home.
Through it all, Crocker has managed the task with intelligence, poise, level-headedness, candor and a measure of humility that is astounding given the enormity of his job.
While serving his nation honorably, he has done himself, his family and his hometown proud.
But now he’s back, settling in, pondering the next installment of his life. That this world-traveled foreign service officer has come back to the Spokane area, where he was born, to build his retirement home says something about the man as well as the community.
We don’t know what civic role he may play, public or private, but based on the path of his career to date and the qualities he’s demonstrated under pressure, it’s a safe bet that he will have a constructive impact on his community, as he has on history.
Crocker came to public attention largely because of his posting to Baghdad, but his career was already distinguished in a much broader way, marked by an abundance of honors, not the least of which was his rare designation by the State Department as career ambassador.
It’s said that a prophet is not honored in his own land. A diplomat whose life has been marked by purpose and service is a different story. Crocker’s service has been a model for other foreign service officers to follow, but now that his career has ended, his community welcomes him home.