US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs 1997-2000
US Ambassador to the UN 1989-92
In a diplomatic career spanning five decades, Thomas R. Pickering was U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation, India, Israel, El Salvador, Nigeria, and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Pickering also served on assignments in Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Pickering entered on active duty in the U.S. Navy from 1956-1959, and later served in the Naval Reserve to the grade of Lieutenant Commander. Between 1959 and 1961, he was assigned to the Bureau of Intelligence and Research of the State Department and later to the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. From 1962 to 1964 Pickering served in Geneva as political adviser to the U.S. Delegation to the 18-Nation Disarmament Conference.
From 1973 to 1974 Thomas Pickering served as Executive Secretary of the Department of State and Special Assistant to Secretaries William P. Rogers and Henry A. Kissinger. Between 1974–1978 Pickering was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Jordan and from 1978 to 1981, he served as Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affair. He was U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria between 1981–1983, U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador between 1983–1985 during the Iran-Contra affair and then U.S. Ambassador to Israel between 1985–1988. He won the Distinguished Presidential Award in 1983 and again in 1986.
From 1989 to 1992 Thomas Pickering was U.S. Ambassador and Representative to the United Nations in New York, where he played a critical role as Ambassador during the First Gulf War, helping to lead the United Nations Security Council’s response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.
Pickering served as U.S. Ambassador to India between 1992–1993 and then U.S. Ambassador to Russia between 1993–1996 before his appointment between 1997–2000 as U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, the number three position at the State Department.
In 1996, Pickering was awarded the Department of State’s highest award – the Distinguished Service Award - and he holds the personal rank of Career Ambassador, the highest in the U.S. Foreign Service.
Activity after public service
Pickering joined Boeing upon his retirement in 2000. Before that he was briefly the president of the Eurasia Foundation, a Washington-based organization that makes small grants and loans in the states of the former Soviet Union. He served for five and half years as Senior Vice President International Relations and as a member of the Executive Council of The Boeing Company where he was responsible for the company’s relations with foreign governments and the company's globalization. Since December 2006 Thomas R. Pickering has been Vice Chairman at Hills and Company which provides advice and counsel to a number of major U.S. enterprises.
Together with fellow GLF Member, Lakhdar Brahimi, Thomas Pickering co-chaired an international task force on Afghanistan, organised by the Century Foundation. Their findings and recommendations seek to determine what kind of political path might lead to ending the war.
(This report can be viewed at http://tcf.org/publications/2011/3/afghanistan-negotiating-peace)
In 1984, Thomas Pickering was awarded an honorary doctor-in-laws degree from Bowdoin College, and has received similar honors from 12 other universities.
Memberships and Affiliations
- Co-chair of the International Crisis Group
- Chairman of American Academy of Diplomacy
- Member of the International Institute of Strategic Studies (Former Board member)
- Member of the Council on Foreign Relations (Former trustee)
- Member of the National Bureau of Asian Research (Former Advisory group Member)
- Member of the Global Panel Foundation based in Berlin and Prague
- Former Board member of the American Iranian Council
- Member of the Constitution Project's bipartisan Liberty and Security Committee
- Vice Chairman of the Board of the Henry L. Stimson Center
- Member of the Advisory Board of Eurasia Group
- Member of the Guiding Coalition of the nonpartisan Project on National Security Reform
- Member of the Atlantic Council’s Board of Directors Executive Committee
- Trustee Emeritus, Aspen Institute
- Board Member, Carnegie Corporation of New York
- Chairman of the Board, Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress
- Trustee, George C Marshall Foundation
- Chairman of the Board, Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University
- Co-Chairman of the Board, International Tax and Investment Center
- Kennan Institute Council, Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars
- Chair of US Board, Moscow School of Politics
- Chair of Advisory Council and former Co-Chairman of the Board, United Nations Association of the Untied States of America/United Nations Fund
- Trustee, United States-Russia Business Council
- Chairman of the Board, Washington Institute for Foreign Affairs
- Former President, Eurasia Foundation
- Special Advisor, Center for Strategic and International Studies
- Member, Advisory Council, United States Institute for Peace
- Member, Advisory Council, National Committee on American Foreign Policy
- Board Member, Center for Excellence in Education
- Board member, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist
- Member, Advisory Council, The Stanley Foundation