A lawyer, having served a career as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer in the Middle East, East and Southeast Asia, Robert William Dry approaches teaching international relations from both practitioner and theoretical perspectives. Research interests include diplomatic studies (the study of diplomacy as an institution of international society), the Persian Gulf and U.S. foreign policy in that region, and both public and private international law.
Professor Dry began his career at the U.S. Department of State as the Judicial Assistance Officer (practitioner of private international law) and participated in the claims process against Iran following the 1979 Iranian revolution. He implemented aspects of the then just enacted Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. In his first overseas assignment in the Foreign Service, the Department sent Professor Dry to the U.S. Interests Section of the Belgium Embassy in Baghdad to serve as consul during the Iran/Iraq war. There followed a series of Foreign Service assignments including Muscat, the Department of State (with focus upon international economics training and international investment policy negotiation), Guangzhou, Jakarta, the Department (with focus on Persian Gulf economics, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen), Riyadh, Hanoi, Muscat, Paris, and New York City.
At the U.S. embassy in Hanoi, as counselor for economic affairs, for example, Professor Dry led an embassy team with the goal of final economic normalization with Vietnam. In his second posting in Muscat, he served as the long-term chargé d’affaires, or ‘acting’ ambassador, following the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks and assisted the U.S. military in prosecuting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. As science/non-proliferation regimes counselor in Paris, Professor Dry advanced U.S. and international environmental, technological, health, and counter-terrorism goals. These included site negotiations for the multibillion dollar International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (‘ITER’) project, designed to prove magnetic confinement fusion.
In his final assignment in the Foreign Service, Professor Dry served as the Department of State’s New York-based diplomat-in-residence. In addition to recruiting for the Foreign Service, he lectured on a range of foreign policy subjects at dozens of universities in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, and Connecticut and began teaching as an adjunct professor. On retirement from the Department of State, New York University’s Department of Politics – the precursor to the Program in International Relations – invited Professor Dry to teach about U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and prepare a special course on diplomacy. Shortly thereafter, he undertook teaching obligations at the School for International and Public Affairs of Columbia University.
Professor Dry pursued a Master of Arts degree in British legal history and classical Arabic and Islamic studies at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. He thereafter received from George Washington University’s National Law Center a Juris Doctor degree and was admitted to the DC Bar. In the Foreign Service, Professor Dry studied economics, Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian area studies, and successfully tested in Arabic, Chinese, French, Indonesian, and Vietnamese.
Concurrent with teaching responsibilities at NYU and Columbia University, Professor Dry returned to service at the Department of State from 2011 to 2016, advancing the academic component of the Franklin Fellows Program. He also chaired the Committee on the Foreign Service Profession and Ethics of the American Foreign Service Association with the task of – among others – to prepare a draft code of conduct for the U.S. Foreign Service. Professor Dry is pursuing an advanced degree in law – with an emphasis on international and international environmental law - at the Francis Carey School of Law of the University of Maryland in Baltimore.
In the classroom, Professor Dry seeks to bring the experience of practitioners together with the power and elegance of academic theory. He introduces ‘gray literature’ and thinking at U.S. military colleges (e.g., Strategic Studies Institute and U.S. Naval Postgraduate School) and think tanks (e.g., Brookings, CSIS, Independent Diplomat, U.S. Institute of Peace, and the International Crisis Group) into seminars. While knowledge is important, Professor Dry emphasizes ‘practical’ yet formal short written assignments and oral presentations, the kind of thing diplomats (and analysts, reporters, bankers, and others interested in international careers) need to know how to do to succeed.
Professor Dry hikes and travels when he can, especially with his wife Ellen and daughters Alicia and Julia. He takes his two-year-old Australian shepherd, Chrissy, with him wherever he can. His preferred contact is ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’.