John Limbert

John Limbert recently retired as distinguished professor of international affairs at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. During a 34-year career in the U.S. Foreign Service, he served as deputy assistant secretary of state for Iran from 2009 to 2010, and as ambassador to Mauritania between 2000 and 2003. From 1979 to 1981, Limbert was among 52 Americans held hostage after the seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran.

Recent Articles

The Trump Administration’s Iran Fiasco

Pompeo tries to please his boss, while Bolton pursues a corrupt and dangerous escalation.

Andrew Harnik/AP Photo
Until recently, what passed for “Iran policy” in the Trump administration originated in the president’s obsession with his predecessor. If President Barack Obama was going to open dialogue with the Islamic Republic, then this president would shut it down, and return to 40 years of futile exchanges of threats, insults, and accusations. If President Obama and five other nations made an agreement (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA) to limit Iran’s nuclear pro­gram in exchange for limited sanctions relief, then this president would tear up the agreement, ignore our partners, and impose more sanctions. Trump disliked the JCPOA not because of anything in it, but because Obama had made it, and he—the world’s greatest negotiator—had not. Trump’s new secretary of state, similarly named to the ill-fated Roman triumvir Pompeius Magnus, understands his chief’s obsessions very well. At a January 2019 speech in Cairo, where...