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Chris Stevens was the kind of leader our country needs

Posted by Rob Anderson  September 12, 2012 12:50 PM

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Chris Stevens was the type of public servant that our government needs more of. Stevens was the US ambassador to Libya who was killed in an attack by militants in Benghazi. Only recently had he risen to the top of the diplomatic ranks; he served as a Senate staffer for Republican Senator Richard Lugar and was a career State Department officer throughout the Middle East for most of the past decade. He was assigned to Libya soon after the uprising against Moammar Gadhafi began. As he gained the trust of both the Obama administration and the disparate Libyan factions, he rose to become ambassador.

He was also a friend of mine, someone I got to know on the tennis court. Our talks were never policy heavy; in fact, he would hear more from me about the federal budget than I would from him about rising through the ranks at Foggy Bottom. But I learned enough about him to know that he was a thoughtful listener, one who never made presumptions about someone because of the side they were on. In other words, he was well suited to be a diplomat.

One of the few times I saw his passion break through was when he talked about a meeting between foreign and US leaders. He recalled one time when he staffed Secretary of State Colin Powell during a meeting with a Middle East dictator. Stevens said that when Powell walked in, the foreign leader, known for being difficult, as all dictators are wont to be, was being difficult. But Powell was able to win over the room with his presence and his ability — not only to communicate, but, more importantly, to listen. Stevens told me that he wished Powell had gone even further in his career.

When Chris is remembered, the same things should be said about him, because he had the same abilities. It's a shame he is no longer with us, because he was the kind of leader that our country needs.

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ABOUT THE ANGLE Online commentary and news analysis from the Boston Globe. The Angle is produced by Rob Anderson and Alan Wirzbicki. You can follow Rob on Twitter at @rcand.

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