Philip C. Habib is shown speaking as chief negotiator for the United States at the Peace Talks between the U.S. and North Vietnam in Paris, France, 1970.

Philip Habib: America’s Diplomat

Philip Habib: America’s Diplomat 1024 853

Philip Habib: America’s Diplomat

Philip Habib’s was awarded the Presidential Medal of FreedomBorn to parents who immigrated to the United States from Lebanon, Philip C. Habib grew up in New York and joined the Foreign Service in 1949. Habib became a renowned diplomat over his 30+ year career, first for his service and expertise in Southeast Asia — including a prominent role in the Vietnam peace talks that resulted in the 1973 Paris Peace Accords — and later for his role as a peace negotiator in the Middle East.

Habib grew up in a household where Arabic was regularly spoken. “… We spoke a mixed language in the home. [My parents and grandmother] would speak to me in Arabic, and I would answer in English…” Habib was aided by his background when called out of retirement by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 to serve as his special emissary to the Middle East, spending two years in successful pursuit of a ceasefire in a conflict in Lebanon.

Philip Habib received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Reagan in 1982 in recognition of his work in Lebanon. The citation proclaims his success there as “one of the unique feats of diplomacy in modern times” and that “Philip Habib’s mission saved the city of Beirut and thousands of innocent lives.” The medal and the citation are part of NMAD’s permanent collection, as well as other artifacts representing Habib’s diplomatic career donated by the Habib family.