Richard Bordeaux Parker bigraphy, stories - American diplomat

Richard Bordeaux Parker : biography

July 3, 1923 - January 7, 2011

Richard Bordeaux Parker (July 3, 1923, in the Fort Stotsenburg, Philippines - January 7, 2011, in Washington, D.C.) was a United States Foreign Service Officer and an expert on the Middle East. Parker served as Ambassador to Algeria, Lebanon and Morocco.

He is the brother of David Stuart Parker.


Ambassador Parker's papers are held at Georgetown University, in Washington, D.C.

Some of Richard Bordeaux Parker's photographs are held at the Freer Gallery and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives in Washington, D.C. The collection includes black and white negatives of Islamic architecture throughout Algeria, Cairo, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Morocco, and Spain.

Diplomatic career

Parker served as deputy chief of mission in Rabat, Morocco from 1970 to 1974. He was ambassador to Algeria from 1974 to 1977, to Lebanon in 1977, and finally to Morocco from 1978 to 1979. He retired from the U.S. Foreign Service in 1981 and became the editor of The Middle East Journal. In addition to his diplomatic career, Parker taught at the University of Virginia, Johns Hopkins University, and Lawrence University. He also served as the first president of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training from 1986-1989.

In 1982, Parker participated in a study group held at the Council on Foreign Relations where he discussed current problems in North Africa. After these meetings Parker spent two years compiling and writing North Africa: Regional Tensions and Strategic Concerns. His book was published in relation with and through the Council on Foreign Relations.

In June 2004, Parker received the American Foreign Service Association's lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy award.

Published books

  • A Practical Guide to Islamic Monuments in Cairo, 1974
  • A Practical Guide to Islamic Monuments in Morocco, 1981
  • North Africa: Regional Tensions and Strategic Concerns, (ISBN 0-275-92773-3, 1987) (revised and updated version)
  • The Politics of Miscalculation in the Middle East, (ISBN 0-2532-0781-9, 1993)
  • The Six-Day War: A Retrospective, (ISBN 0-8130-1383-6, 1996)
  • The October War, (ISBN 0-8130-1853-6, 2001)
  • Uncle Sam in Barbary: A Diplomatic History, (ISBN 0-8130-2696-2, 2004)

Obituaries and Biographies

Service chronology

Richard Parker's Diplomatic Chronology
Position Host country or organization Year
US Foreign Service 1949 to 1958
US Foreign Service Washington, D.C. 1958 to 1961
US Foreign Service Beirut, Lebanon 1961 to 1964
US Foreign Service (Masters degree) Princeton, New Jersey 1964 to 1965
US Foreign Service Cairo, Egypt 1965 to 1967
US Foreign Service Washington, D.C. 1967 to 1970
US Foreign Service (Deputy Chief of Mission) Rabat, Morocco 1970 to 1974
U.S. Ambassador Algiers, Algeria 1974 to 1977
U.S. Ambassador Beirut, Lebanon 1977 to 1978
U.S. Ambassador Rabat, Morocco 1978 to 1979

Early life

Parker was the son of a Col. Roscoe Parker, a US Army Officer (Cavalry), and grew up in US Army posts across the southwest with a stint in Vermont and another in Kansas. He attended Kansas State University, graduating in 1943. After college, Parker served as an infantry officer with the 106th (first platoon of the antitank company of the 422nd infantry regiment) during World War II, where he was captured by the Germans at the Battle of the Bulge and briefly imprisoned. After the war, he returned to Kansas State, where he earned a master's degree, before joining the U.S. Foreign Service in 1949.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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