Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo

 

Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

David Dunford ’64 with fellow diplomats Robin Raphel and former ambassador Tim Carney ’66 in Baghdad in 2003.

The Middle East was the crucible of David Dunford’s foreign service career. After pleasant postings in Ecuador and Finland, he was assigned to the Middle East in 1981. Adapting to the challenge, he spent more than a decade working as an economic officer and then ambassador in that volatile diplomatic climate.

Dunford was tested almost as soon as he arrived in the Middle East. In his first months in Egypt, for example, Israel bombed an Iraqi nuclear plant, and President Anwar Sadat was assassinated. In Cairo and in Washington as director of Egyptian affairs in the 1980s, he helped manage billions of dollars in aid to Egypt. From 1988 to 1992 he served as deputy and then acting ambassador in Saudi Arabia. When the Persian Gulf War broke out, his tasks suddenly included helping to calm 30,000 Americans in that country, coördinating top-level visits by the president and others, and working with General Norman Schwarzkopf on the logistics of deploying half a million U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia.

In his next assignment—as U.S. ambassador to Oman, a country that grants the United States access to three critical air bases—he guided the relationship through a tricky period marked by sharp cuts in assistance. Although he retired from the State Department in 1995, he was called back in 2003 after the U.S. invasion of Iraq to help the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs reorganize and regain control over Iraqi diplomatic posts abroad.

When he retired from the State Department, Dunford and his wife, Sandra, moved to Tucson. He teaches courses on the Middle East and public policy at the University of Arizona and consults with corporations and the government, often briefing soldiers en route to Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also an avid birder, and last year he completed the 442-mile Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI). The Dunfords have two children, who both live in the Los Angeles area: Greg, a banker, and Tina, a high-school teacher.

Dunford, who earned a master’s degree in political science at Stanford after leaving MIT, is a strong advocate for the value of international experience. He credits an undergraduate opportunity to work as a summer trainee at Spain’s National Institute of Aerospace Technology with whetting his appetite for travel and foreign cultures. So what does he teach his students? “In most non-U.S. cultures, relationships tend to be more important in getting things done than in the U.S. We are big on institutions and laws,” he says. “It’s crucial that Americans have this global competence and confidence if we are going to continue to succeed as a society.”

0 comments about this story. Start the discussion »

Tagged: Computing

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives

Close

Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me
×

A Place of Inspiration

Understand the technologies that are changing business and driving the new global economy.

September 23-25, 2014
Register »