Robert B. Oakley

Last updated
Robert B. Oakley
Robert Oakley in Somalia.JPEG
Robert Oakley in Somalia in 1993
19th U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan
In office
18 August 1988 29 August 1991
President Ronald Reagan
George H. W. Bush
Preceded by Arnold Lewis Raphel
Succeeded by Nicholas Platt
U.S. Ambassador to Somalia
In office
30 September 1982 12 August 1984
President Ronald Reagan
Preceded by Donald K. Petterson
Succeeded by Peter Bridges
U.S. Ambassador to Zaire
In office
06 November 1979 22 August 1982
President Jimmy Carter
Ronald Reagan
Preceded by Walter L. Cutler
Succeeded by Peter Dalton Constable
Personal details
Robert Bigger Oakley

(1931-03-12)March 12, 1931
Dallas, Texas, United States
DiedDecember 10, 2014(2014-12-10) (aged 83)
McLean, Virginia, United States
Political party Republican
Phyllis E. Oakley (m. 1958–2014)
(his death)
Alma mater South Kent School, Princeton University

Robert Bigger Oakley (March 12, 1931 – December 10, 2014) was an American diplomat whose 34-year career (1957–1991) as a Foreign Service Officer included appointments as United States Ambassador to Zaire, Somalia, and Pakistan and, in the early 1990s, as a special envoy during the American involvement in Somalia. [1]

Diplomat person appointed by a state to conduct diplomacy with another state or international organization

A diplomat is a person appointed by a state to conduct diplomacy with one or more other states or international organizations. The main functions of diplomats are: representation and protection of the interests and nationals of the sending state; initiation and facilitation of strategic agreements; treaties and conventions; promotion of information; trade and commerce; technology; and friendly relations. Seasoned diplomats of international repute are used in international organizations as well as multinational companies for their experience in management and negotiating skills. Diplomats are members of foreign services and diplomatic corps of various nations of the world.

Foreign Service Officer member of United States Foreign service

A Foreign Service Officer (FSO) is a commissioned member of the United States Foreign Service. Foreign Service Officers formulate and implement the foreign policy of the United States. FSOs spend most of their careers overseas as members of U.S. embassies, consulates, and other diplomatic missions, though some receive assignments to serve at combatant commands, Congress, and educational institutions such as the various U.S. War Colleges.

Zaire country in Africa now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Zaire, officially the Republic of Zaire, was the name of a sovereign state between 1971 and 1997 in Central Africa that is now known as Democratic Republic of the Congo. The country was a one-party totalitarian dictatorship, run by Mobutu Sese Seko and his ruling Popular Movement of the Revolution party. Zaire was established following Mobutu's seizure of power in a military coup in 1965, following five years of political upheaval following independence known as the Congo Crisis. Zaire had a strongly centralist constitution, and foreign assets were nationalised. The period is sometimes referred to as the Second Congolese Republic.


Department of State

Born in Dallas, Texas, Oakley graduated in 1948 from Connecticut's South Kent School and spent four years as an Intelligence Officer in the US Navy. He joined the Foreign Service in 1957 and was assigned to the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, in 1958. He first served in the Office of United Nations Political Affairs, Department of State, and later served in American embassies in Abidjan, Saigon, Paris, and Beirut. He also served at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, and as Senior Director for Middle East and South Asia on the staff of the National Security Council.

Dallas City in Texas, United States

Dallas is a city in the U.S. state of Texas. With an estimated 2017 population of 1,341,075, it is the ninth most-populous city in the U.S. and third in Texas after Houston and San Antonio. Dallas is the main core of the largest metropolitan area in the Southern United States and the largest inland metropolitan area in the U.S. that lacks any navigable link to the sea. It is the most populous city in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex, the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the country at 7.3 million people as of 2017. Dallas is the seat of Dallas County. Sections of the city extend into Collin, Denton, Kaufman, and Rockwall counties.

Texas State of the United States of America

Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, while the Gulf of Mexico is to the southeast.

Connecticut state of the United States of America

Connecticut is the southernmost state in the New England region of the United States. As of the 2010 Census, it has the highest per-capita income, Human Development Index (0.962), and median household income in the United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, New York to the west, and Long Island Sound to the south. Its capital is Hartford and its most populous city is Bridgeport. It is part of New England, although portions of it are often grouped with New York and New Jersey as the Tri-state area. The state is named for the Connecticut River which approximately bisects the state. The word "Connecticut" is derived from various anglicized spellings of an Algonquian word for "long tidal river".

In February 1977, he became Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs. He became U.S. Ambassador to Zaire in November 1979 and U.S. Ambassador to Somalia in August 1982. In September 1984, he was appointed Director of the State Department Office of Combating Terrorism. He again joined the National Security Council Staff on January 1, 1987, as Assistant to the President for Middle East and South Asia. He was named as U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan in August 1988, succeeding Arnold Lewis Raphel, who was killed in an August 17 airplane crash along with Pakistan's President, Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq.

East Asia Subregion of Asia

East Asia is the eastern subregion of Asia, which can be defined in either geographical or ethno-cultural terms. Culturally, China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam are commonly seen as being encompassed by cultural East Asia. Geographically and geopolitically, the region constitutes China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, and South Korea.

Arnold Lewis Raphel American diplomat

Arnold Lewis Raphel was the 18th United States Ambassador to Pakistan.

The state funeral of Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq was held on 19 August 1988 in the Shah Faisal Mosque located in Islamabad, Pakistan. General Zia-ul-Haq, Chief fo Army Staff (COAS) who was also serving as the President of Pakistan, had died in a C-130 Hercules plane, call sign: Pak-1, crashed near the Sutlej river on 17 August 1988. Several conspiracy theories exists regarding this incident, as other high-profile civilian and military personnel also died in the crash including the Chairman Joint chiefs General Akhtar Abdur Rehman and the United States Ambassador to Pakistan, Arnold Lewis Raphel, and the military attaché, Brigadier General Herbert M. Wassom.

After retiring from the Foreign Service in September 1991, Oakley became associated with the United States Institute of Peace. In December 1992, he was named by President George H. W. Bush as Special Envoy for Somalia, serving there with Operation Restore Hope until March 1993. In October 1993, he was again named as Special Envoy for Somalia by President Bill Clinton, and served in this capacity until March 1994. In January 1995, he joined the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University. In 2000, prior to the September 11 attacks, Paul Bremer characterized the Clinton administration as "correctly focused on bin Laden", while Oakley criticized their "obsession with Osama".

United States Institute of Peace organization

The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) is an American federal institution tasked with promoting conflict resolution and prevention worldwide. It provides research, analysis, and training to individuals in diplomacy, mediation, and other peace-building measures.

George H. W. Bush 41st President of the United States

George Herbert Walker Bush was an American politician who served as the 41st president of the United States from 1989 to 1993 and the 43rd vice president of the United States from 1981 to 1989. A member of the Republican Party, his earlier posts included those of congressman, ambassador, and CIA director. During his career in public service, he was known simply as George Bush; after his son George W. Bush became the 43rd president in 2001, he was referred to as "George H. W. Bush", "Bush 41", or "George Bush Sr."

Bill Clinton 42nd President of the United States

William Jefferson Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd president of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Prior to the presidency, he was the governor of Arkansas from 1979 to 1981, and again from 1983 to 1992, and the attorney general of Arkansas from 1977 to 1979. A member of the Democratic Party, Clinton was ideologically a New Democrat and many of his policies reflected a centrist "Third Way" political philosophy.


During his service with the State Department, Oakley received numerous State Department awards, including: the State Department Meritorious Honor Award, four Presidential Meritorious Service Awards, and the State Department Distinguished Honor Award. For his service as Special Envoy to Somalia, he received a second State Department Distinguished Honor Award and the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service. On June 18, 1993, he received the Diplomatic Award for Excellence of the American Academy of Diplomacy. In October 2008, Oakley was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from Princeton in Africa. [2]

The United States Department of State, like other agencies of the U.S. federal government, gives civilian decorations for outstanding service, sacrifice, or heroism. The criteria for the awards are set down in 3 FAM 4820 - Foreign Affairs Manual, 3 FAM - Personnel, section 3 FAM 4800 Department Awards Program.

Distinguished Honor Award

The Distinguished Honor Award is an award of the United States Department of State. Similar versions of the same award exist for the former U.S. Information Agency, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and USAID. It is presented to groups or individuals in recognition of exceptionally outstanding service or achievements of marked national or international significance.

United States Department of Defense United States federal executive department

The Department of Defense is an executive branch department of the federal government charged with coordinating and supervising all agencies and functions of the government concerned directly with national security and the United States Armed Forces. The department is the largest employer in the world, with nearly 1.3 million active duty servicemen and women as of 2016. Adding to its employees are over 826,000 National Guardsmen and Reservists from the four services, and over 732,000 civilians bringing the total to over 2.8 million employees. Headquartered at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C., the DoD's stated mission is to provide "the military forces needed to deter war and ensure our nation's security".


In Cairo, during June 1958, Oakley married fellow Foreign Service Officer Phyllis Elliott who, under then-prevailing rules, was obliged to resign. The Oakleys have two children, and five grandchildren. Phyllis E. Oakley returned to the Foreign Service in 1974. [3]

Cairo City in Egypt

Cairo is the capital of Egypt. The city's metropolitan area is one of the largest in Africa, the largest in the Middle East, and the 15th-largest in the world, and is associated with ancient Egypt, as the famous Giza pyramid complex and the ancient city of Memphis are located in its geographical area. Located near the Nile Delta, modern Cairo was founded in 969 CE by the Fatimid dynasty, but the land composing the present-day city was the site of ancient national capitals whose remnants remain visible in parts of Old Cairo. Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life, and is titled "the city of a thousand minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture. Cairo is considered a World City with a "Beta +" classification according to GaWC.


Oakley died in McLean, Virginia from complications from Parkinson's disease, on December 10, 2014, aged 83. [4]

Related Research Articles

Ambassadors of the United States

Ambassadors of the United States are persons nominated as ambassadors by the President to serve as United States diplomats to individual nations of the world, to international organizations, and as ambassadors-at-large. Their appointment needs to be confirmed by the United States Senate. An ambassador can be appointed during a recess, but he or she can only serve as ambassador until the end of the next session of Congress unless subsequently confirmed. Ambassadors serve "at the pleasure of the President", meaning they can be dismissed at any time. Appointments change regularly for various reasons, such as reassignment or retirement.

Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change (DMCC) was an ad hoc organization of 27 retired and United States military officers and Foreign Service Officers who supported Democratic U.S. Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts against incumbent Republican George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election.

Winston Lord American diplomat

Winston Lord is a United States diplomat and leader of non-governmental foreign policy organizations. He served as Special Assistant to the National Security Advisor (1970-1973), Director of the State Department Policy Planning Staff (1973-1977), President of the Council on Foreign Relations (1977-1985), Ambassador to China (1985–1989) and Assistant Secretary of State (1993–1997).

Edward Djerejian diplomat

Edward Peter Djerejian is a former United States diplomat who served in eight administrations from John F. Kennedy to Bill Clinton (1962–94.) He served as the United States Ambassador to Syria (1988–91) and Israel (1993–94), Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan and Deputy Press Secretary of Foreign Affairs (1985–1986), and was Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs (1991–1993.) He is the director of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and on the board of trustees of the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Djerejian was elected chairman of Occidental Petroleum Corporation’s board of directors (2013–2015). He is managing partner of Djerejian Global Consultancies, LLP. Djerejian is the author of the book Danger and Opportunity: An American Ambassador's Journey Through the Middle East

William Joseph Burns American diplomat

William Joseph Burns is a former career Foreign Service Officer, and President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace since February 2015. Previously, he was Ambassador of the United States to the Russian Federation from 2005 until 2008, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs from 2008 to 2011, and United States Deputy Secretary of State from 2011 to 2014.

Lino Gutierrez American diplomat

Lino Gutiérrez is an American diplomat.

David Hale (diplomat) American diplomat

David Maclain Hale is a United States diplomat and career foreign service officer, currently serving as the United States Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.

Richard E. Hoagland American diplomat

Richard Eugene Hoagland is a career ambassador in the United States Department of State. He was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in State's Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, 2013-2015. In the summer of 2016, based at the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan, he was the senior U.S. liaison to the Russian Reconciliation Center at the Russian military base in Latakia, Syria. Beginning January 2017, he will serve as interim U.S. Co-Chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Minsk Group for Nagorno-Karabakh.

Samuel W. Lewis American diplomat

Samuel Winfield Lewis was an American diplomat. During his lengthy career with the United States Department of State he served as Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs (1975–1977), U.S. ambassador to Israel (1977–1985) and Director of Policy Planning (1993–1994). As ambassador to Israel, Lewis played a major part in bringing about the 1978 Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt. Lewis also headed the United States Institute of Peace from 1987 through 1993.

William Braucher Wood American ambassador

William Braucher Wood is the U.S. Envoy for International Sanctions Implementation at the Department of State. He is a former Ambassador from the United States of America to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and Colombia.

Thomas David Boyatt is a former diplomat and United States Ambassador to Burkina Faso (1978–80) and Colombia (1980–83). He is a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy. He was held captive for six days in a Palestinian hijacking in the 1960s. He graduated from Wyoming High School in 1951. He continues to return to his former high school to speak to students during the Wyoming School Foundation Day.

Brandon Grove American diplomat

Brandon Hambright Grove, Jr. was the United States Ambassador to the German Democratic Republic and Zaire (1984–87) and served on the board of directors of the American Academy of Diplomacy.

Thomas C. Hubbard American diplomat

Thomas C. Hubbard is a diplomat and former U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines (1996–2000) and South Korea (2001–04). He is currently a Senior Director for Asia at McLarty Associates and Chairman of The Korea Society.

George W. Landau American diplomat

George Walter Landau was an American diplomat who served as the United States Ambassador to Paraguay, Chile, and Venezuela.

Phyllis Elliott Oakley is a diplomat who served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration (1994–97) and Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research (1997–99). She was married to former Ambassador Robert B. Oakley and is a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy and the Council on Foreign Relations. Oakley is a graduate of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, at Tufts University.

Karl W. Hofmann American diplomat

Karl William Hofmann is the President and CEO of the global humanitarian and health organization, Population Services International (PSI). Prior to joining PSI, he served as an American diplomat for 23 years. His missions included a two-year appointment to the Republic of Togo, where he served as the United States Ambassador. He also served as a member of President Clinton's National Security Council.

Earl Anthony Wayne American ambassador

Earl Anthony Wayne is an American diplomat. Formerly Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs, Ambassador to Argentina and Deputy Ambassador to Afghanistan, Wayne served nearly four years as Ambassador to Mexico. He was nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate in August, 2011. He departed Mexico City for Washington July 31, 2015 and retired from the State Department on September 30, 2015. He is currently working with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the Atlantic Council, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, HSBC banking corporation, the American Foreign Service Association, and as an independent consultant. Wayne attained the highest rank in the U.S. diplomatic service: Career Ambassador.

Ruth A. Davis is a United States diplomat. Davis is the 24th Director General of the United States Foreign Service. She is the first woman of color to be appointed as Director General of the Foreign Service and the first African-American Director of the Foreign Service Institute. In 2002, she became a career member of the Senior Foreign Service and a Career Ambassador. She is the Chief of Staff of the Africa Bureau of the U.S. Department of State.


  1. Robert B. Oakley at the Notable Names Database (NNDB)
  2. Robert B. Oakley Archived 2011-07-20 at the Wayback Machine at The American Academy of Diplomacy
  3. Phyllis E. Oakley at the Notable Names Database (NNDB)
  4. "Robert Oakley, diplomatic troubleshooter, dies at 83". Washington Retrieved December 11, 2014.

Note: When consulted on June 12, 2016, both of the below links were no longer active.

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Walter L. Cutler
U.S. Ambassador to Zaire
Succeeded by
Peter Dalton Constable
Preceded by
Donald K. Petterson
U.S. Ambassador to Somalia
Succeeded by
Peter Bridges
Preceded by
Arnold Lewis Raphel
U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan
Succeeded by
Nicholas Platt