President Obama's former ambassador to China and 2012 GOP White House hopeful is moving back into diplomacy, being named late Wednesday as chairman of the influential Atlantic Council.

Jon Huntsman, a former Utah governor well known for his world vision but whose presidential bid stumbled from the start, will succeed Chuck Hagel who quit the post early last year to be defense secretary. Retired Gen. Brent Scowcroft, a former White House national security advisor, has been interim chairman of the Washington-based powerhouse.

“It is an honor to have been chosen as chair of the Atlantic Council at a time when it is poised to play an increasingly important global role,” said Huntsman. “What the council’s leadership understands is that we are at an historic inflection point where consistent and constructive U.S. leadership alongside our European allies and in close cooperation with other global partners will be decisive in shaping the future.”

Huntsman is just 53 and has worked in the administrations of four presidents, dating back to Ronald Reagan.

“In Jon Huntsman, we have selected a chairman whose extraordinary skills will further advance the dramatic transformation of the Atlantic Council,” said Scowcroft. “Huntsman is a first-class global thinker, public servant and business leader all rolled up into one person.”

The group, started in 1961, has seen rapid recent growth as it seeks to help the U.S. and partners around the world deal with new global challenges.

By taking the post, Huntsman appears to be signaling that he won't be running for president again in 2016. The Republican Nation Committee seems to agree, leaving him off their 2016 straw poll fundraiser.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at