FLOOR STATEMENT BY SENATOR JOHN McCAIN HONORING AMBASSADOR RYAN CROCKER
July 26, 2012
“Mr. President, I would like to take a few minutes and pay tribute to Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who ended his tour this week as the U.S. chief of mission in Kabul, Afghanistan.
“As some of my colleagues may know, Ambassador Crocker’s health has, unfortunately, been poor, so he is returning to receive some much-needed care. But what my colleagues may not know is that Ambassador Crocker’s health has been poor for some time, and the people who care about him most – his family, his friends and colleagues in the Foreign Service, and our Secretary of State herself – told Ambassador Crocker long ago that he needed to leave his post, that he needed to get away from the long days and long nights of too much stress and not enough sleep. They told him to come home for his own sake.
“Eventually, Ambassador Crocker relented, but still, he was only going to leave on his own terms. He said that America asks the best of our country – our men and women in uniform and their many civilian partners, who work and sacrifice shoulder to shoulder with our troops in the field – to serve in Afghanistan for one year. Ambassador Crocker said he would expect no less of himself, and do no less, whatever the cost. So for the past few months, Ambassador Crocker has fought through persistent pain and discomfort to finish out his one year in Kabul, doing everything that is asked of him – and more. And on Tuesday, that year came to an end, and Ambassador Crocker came home to receive the care he desperately needs.
“This is a remarkable story, but it is only surprising to those who do not know Ryan Crocker. For those of us who have had the pleasure and the honor of coming to know Ryan well, this latest story is not at all surprising: It is actually quite in keeping with the character and the actions of this superb, decent, and selfless man – a man who I would call, without question or hesitation, the most excellent Foreign Service Officer, and one of the finest public servants, I have ever known.
“For the past 41 years, ever since he was a junior diplomat serving in pre-revolution Iran, Ryan Crocker has consistently answered the call to serve in the most challenging, the most difficult, but also the most important posts in the world. They were the places, as it turned out, where America needed Ryan Crocker the most, and he has always served with distinction.
“He was a young officer in Lebanon when our embassy was bombed, and Ryan Crocker helped to pull his colleagues from the rubble, and then got back to work. He was one of the first civilians into Afghanistan and Iraq after the recent wars, helping to re-establish our diplomatic presence in both countries after decades. He returned to Iraq during the surge and, as General Petraeus tells everyone, was absolutely indispensible in turning around our war effort – even as his life was constantly in danger from the rockets that smashed into his office in Baghdad, and perhaps more threatening, his own relentless work ethic, which literally almost killed him. Many Presidents, Republicans and Democrats alike, have had the wisdom to appoint Ryan Crocker as their ambassador to six different countries – Lebanon, Kuwait, Syria, Pakistan, Iraq, and finally Afghanistan.
“Ambassador Crocker has been just as indispensible in Kabul as he has everywhere else in his career – from enhancing our relationship with President Karzai and the people of Afghanistan, to negotiating and concluding the Strategic Partnership Agreement with Afghanistan, to being the dedicated partner, every hour of every day, of General John Allen and all of our men and women serving in harm’s way.
“In my many years, and my many travels, I have had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know many of our career diplomats, and I am continually impressed by their high quality and tough-mindedness, their patriotism and love of country, their constant willingness to serve and the many quiet sacrifices they make. But of all of these remarkable men and women, never have I met a Foreign Service Officer more outstanding or more committed to our country than Ryan Crocker. The one comfort I take in Ryan’s departure from Afghanistan is that he remains an abiding inspiration for his fellow diplomats, who revere him, and hold him in the highest regard, and wish to model themselves and their careers after his life and service. America will be a better and safer place because of this, thanks to Ryan Crocker.”