The World: Death of an Ambassador

At one time, the post of U.S. ambassador offered not only prestige but usually a genteel, comfortable way of life as well, with quiet diplomacy amid pomp and splendor. Today, in a world racked by guerrilla uprisings and civil wars, the American ambassador is often a target, a visible, vulnerable surrogate for his country and its policies. Last week's murder of U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus Rodger Davies—the third assassination of a U.S. ambassador since 1968* —was a tragic reminder of the dangers that America's envoys now face.

A Middle Eastern expert who had been working as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State...