Ph.D., University of the Witwatersrand
M.A. and B.A., University of New Mexico
Ambassador Dennis Jett is a founding faculty member of the Penn State School of International Affairs. While in the U.S. Foreign Service, his career spanned 28 years and three continents. His academic research interests focus on international relations, peacekeeping and U.S. foreign policy. Immediately prior to joining Penn State, he was dean of the International Center at the University of Florida for eight years.
Professor Jett’s State Department career began in 1973, when he was a political officer in the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He served as science attaché in Tel Aviv as well as a number of positions in the State Department. In 1989, he became the deputy chief of mission and charge d’affaires in the U.S. Embassy in Malawi, where he assisted in the response to an influx of more than 500,000 Mozambican refugees. He was then sent to be deputy chief of mission in the U.S. Embassy in Liberia shortly before the start of the civil war in that country. For his service in Liberia during this tumultuous time, he received the State Department’s Distinguished Honor Award for “exceptional service, superb leadership, keen perception and adroitness in the formulation and execution of U.S. foreign policy.”
Professor Jett then became special assistant to the president and senior director for African Affairs at the National Security Council, where he was responsible for Africa policy during the first six months of the Clinton Administration. He went on to serve as the U.S. ambassador to Mozambique (1993-1996) and Peru (1996-1999).
As ambassador to Mozambique, he helped bring about the successful conclusion of one of the world’s largest peacekeeping operations, enabling the country to hold its first democratic elections. Because of his work there, he received the American Foreign Service Association’s Christian Herter Award for dissent. He was subsequently appointed U.S. ambassador to Peru, where he managed the second largest aid program in Latin America. He also helped to open Peru’s markets to U.S. companies receiving the Charles Cobb Award for those efforts. For his efforts to help strengthen Peru’s democracy, he was subsequently awarded the Order of the Sun of Peru by the Peruvian government in 2001, as well as awards from the Lima daily newspaper La Republica and Frequencia Latina, Channel 2 television.
Professor Jett was the Diplomat in Residence at the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia from 1999-2000, where he led election observation missions to Venezuela and Guatemala and conflict resolution efforts between Uganda and Sudan. Upon his retirement from the State Department in 2000, he joined the University of Florida in 2000 as dean of the International Center and a faculty member in the political science department.
Professor Jett has written four books, all published by Palgrave Macmillan: Why Peacekeeping Fails; American Ambassadors: The Past, Present, and Future of America’s Diplomats; The Iran Nuclear Agreement—Bombs and Bureaucrats and Billionaires; and Why American Foreign Policy Fails—Unsafe at Home and Despised Abroad.
Professor Jett has been interviewed on PBS, CNN, NPR, BBC, CBC and other national and international news programs on a range of international issues. Additionally, he has written more than 170 opinion pieces for major newspapers including the International Herald Tribune, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and Miami Herald.
Professor Jett earned his B.A. and M.A. in economics from the University of New Mexico, and his Ph.D. in international relations from the University of Witwatersrand.
Books and Book Chapters
American Ambassadors: The Past, Present, and Future of America’s Diplomats, Palgrave Macmillan, Palgrave/Macmillan, December 2014.
Why American Foreign Policy Fails: Unsafe at Home and Despised Abroad, New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2008.
Why Peacekeeping Fails, New York: Palgrave St. Martin's Press, 2000.
“Evacuation During Civil War, Liberia,” in Embassies Under Siege — Personal Accounts by Diplomats on the Front Line,Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.: Brassey's, 1995.
“The Nexus Between Peacekeeping and Peace-Building: The Case of Mozambique,” in The Nexus Between Peacekeeping and Peace-Building: Debriefing and Lessons, N. Azimi, Kluwer Law International, ed., 2000.
Articles and Papers
Oral History, Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training, 2013.
“Thoughts on the Changing Face of International Law,” Florida Journal of International Law, August 2009
“Obama got it right,” Miami Herald, September 21, 2009
“Obama's Embassies for Sale,” The Daily Beast, August 5, 2009.
Comments in McClatchy Newspapers, June 17, 2009; reprinted in The News & Observer, June 22, 2009
Commentary: “GOP's politics of fear hinder Guantanamo's closing,” Special to McClatchy Newspapers, May 26, 2009.
Commentary: “Fujimori's conviction should give Bush nightmares,” Special to McClatchy Newspapers, 2009.
“Challenges in Support and Stability Operations — Why Each One is Different,” in The Interagency Counterinsurgency Warfare: Stability, Security, Transition, and Reconstruction Roles, Strategic Studies Institute of the US Army War College, 2007.
“The Next Two Years: A Bleak Outlook,” 84 Foreign Service Journal 28, 2007.
“FS Know-How: Tips for Getting Op-Eds Published,” 82 Foreign Service Journal 21, 2005.
“The Failure of Colin Powell,” 82 Foreign Service Journal 22, 2005.
“Is UN Peacekeeping an Effective Program, Deserving of U.S. Support?,” Congressional Digest, September 2004, Vol. 83 No. 7.
“Lessons Unlearned or Why Mozambique's Successful Peacekeeping Operation Won't Be Replicated,” Journal of Humanitarian Assistance, December 1995.
“Cementing Democracy: Institution-Building After the Mozambican Elections,” Harvard International Review, Fall 1995;updated and reprinted in The South African Journal of International Affairs, Summer 1996.