John Abizaid: A Master of Discourse in War and Peace

Trump Nominee for US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Takes a Leap From Defense to Diplomacy 

Illustration by Ali Almandalawi


  1. Abizaid was born on April 1, 1951 in Redwood City, California. He is a descendent of a family of Lebanese Catholic immigrants who emigrated from Southern Lebanon to the United States in 1915. 
  2. His father worked as a mechanic for the US Navy during the Second World War and raised John as a single parent after his mother died of cancer.
  3. Abizaid received extensive military studies from many military academies including the United States Military Academy and the U.S. Army War College. Abizaid also had a civilian education as he earned a Master of Arts degree in Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University. As such, he ensured that he was cultured on both the military and the civilian spheres. 
  4. His studiousness earned him an Olmsted Scholarship at the University of Jordan in Amman. In Jordan, he took lessons in Modern Standard Arabic and learned how to speak in various Eastern Arab dialects. He took a special interest in learning colloquial spoken Arabic because he knew how important language was for both formal and informal engagements during times of war and peace.  
  5. Abizaid eventually learned how to effectively speak colloquial Arabic in number of dialects; he even took the time to learn various Arabic sayings and expressions. His knowledge of the region and its language enabled him to undergo many diplomatic missions to the region, one of which was as the Operations Officer for the United Nations Observer Group Lebanon. 
  6. After graduating from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York in June 1973, he was commissioned a second lieutenant of infantry. From that point he began his military work with 504thParachute Infantry Regiment. 
  7. After the ouster of Saddam Hussien, he took over Central Command of the US Army following General Tommy Franks’ retirement. From there he used to give many statements on the status of the US army’s mission in Iraq. 
  8. John Abizaid has the unique ability of bringing together the culture of war and the culture of peace. His willingness to absorb a language that is hard to learn let alone master shows his willingness for understanding and peaceful dialogue. Learning the other party’s language can do wonders to prevent situations of miscommunication and misunderstanding, let’s not forget that misunderstandings have caused many a devastating war. 
  9. Abizaid has been nominated by the US President to return to the region, but this time not for a military mission, but rather diplomatic one as the new US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Now all he needs is a confirmation from the Congress. 
  10.  Abizaid’s mastery of the Arabic language reminds us of the character Abo Zaid El Sorogy from The Assemblies of Al Hariri who knew the secrets of the Arabic language and had the intelligent demenor that helped him handle the volatile situations of life. His leadership and skill also bears resemblance to that of Abu Zayd El Hilali, the protagonist of the Al Hilali Epic who was a brave and great warrior among the Bani Hilal tribes. As such, Abizaid more than earned the title of an “Arab Through and Through”. 

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