John W. Limbert Named 2015–16 Gruss-Lipper Scholar in Middle East Policy Studies

Jul 20 2015
By Kathryn Lopez
Source Woodrow Wilson School
John W. Limbert, the Class of 1955 Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the U.S. Naval Academy, will be joining Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs as the Gruss-Lipper Scholar in Middle East Policy Studies for the 2015–16 year.
Limbert is the former deputy assistant secretary of state for Iran for the U.S. Department of State’s bureau of near eastern affairs. His more than 30 years as a foreign service officer included serving as U.S. ambassador to Mauritania, where he worked with the country’s government during an attempted coup d'état and the post-9/11 fight against terrorism; mission team leader in Iraq in early 2004; and interim chief of mission in Sudan as a new government emerged to end two decades of civil war.
Limbert has been honored numerous times by the Department of State, including with the “Award for Valor” after his captivity in the U.S. embassy in Tehran during the Iran hostage crisis.
“John is one of the most experienced Iran experts in the U.S.,” Daniel C. Kurtzer, lecturer and S. Daniel Abraham Professor in Middle Eastern Policy Studies at the Wilson School, said. “He’s a fluent Farsi speaker, served in Iran before the revolution, has maintained contacts with Iranian figures over the years, and has now become an accomplished academic. The Woodrow Wilson School is really fortunate that John will spend this year in Princeton – a year when Iran issues will figure so prominently on the U.S. national security agenda.”
His longtime interest and experience in Iran, beginning with the Peace Corps when he was stationed there as an English teacher, have led to a career as a scholar alongside his three decades in foreign service. He holds a Ph.D. in history and Middle Eastern studies from Harvard University and has authored several books and articles on diplomacy and history in the region.
This fall, Limbert will teach WWS 375, “The U.S. and Iran: Ghosts in the Room.” The course will analyze how the relationship affects domestic politics in each country, and develop policy alternatives.
Limbert’s visit to the School is supported by the Gruss-Lipper Foundation. The fellowship was established to host Middle East experts to enhance students’ interest in and understanding of the region, allow for thoughtful and constructive debate across campus, and drive new research among faculty.