Khalilzad demonstrated diplomacy well before his U.N. appointmentBy William Harms
Newly appointed U.N. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, who received a Ph.D. in Political Science in 1979 at the University, is fondly remembered by professors who were on his dissertation committee as an excellent student with a wide variety of interests.
“He was a very good student, I can remember him as being very quantitative,” said Gary Becker, University Professor in Economics, who was a member of a committee that included the late political scientist Albert Wohlstetter, committee chair, and Leonard Binder, Professor Emeritus in Political Science and professor in political science at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Khalilzad, an Afghani, came to the University with a B.A. from the American University in Beirut.
He brought with him “the gravitas of an Afghan gentleman and the enthusiasm of a Lebanese undergraduate,” Binder said. “As he matured, he played a significant role in integrating the large group of graduate students specializing in the Middle East,” he said.
“I remember, particularly, his role in presiding over our weekly Persian language seminar, when he was confronted by a large number of Mujahidin-e-Khalq who tried to take over the proceedings.
“Zalmay demonstrated great moral and physical courage in maintaining control of the seminar and standing firmly until the intruders left. I expect that he will acquit himself as admirably of his responsibilities in the much larger role of ambassador to the U.N.,” Binder said.
Before being nominated to the U.N. post, Khalilzad was U.S. ambassador to Iraq. His previous government service included being an advisor to the State Department during the Reagan administration on the Iran-Iraq war and the Soviet war in Afghanistan.