Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Peter Rodman, RIP

My first foreign policy mentor, Peter Rodman, died this past Saturday. I first worked with Rodman as an intern when he was the director of Middle East Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. I moved with him to the Nixon Center, where he was Director of National Security Studies. Peter has had an impressive, albeit largely behind the scenes, career at the center of US foreign policy and national security, having been one of Henry Kissinger's top aides during events such as the opening of China, the peace talks ending the Vietnam War, and the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. Peter helped me understand the difficult decisions inherent in policy making, but also worked with me to see how analysis and clear thinking helped uncover the best decision. I hadn't spoken with him in several years, but I will never forget the guidance, support, and wisdom he imparted to a 23 year old intern, eager to learn about foreign policy.

He will be greatly missed.

From the New York Times:

Peter Rodman, Foreign Affairs Expert, Dies at 64

Peter W. Rodman, a foreign policy expert who served every Republican president from Richard M. Nixon to George W. Bush, including as an assistant secretary of defense for nearly six years in the current administration, died on Saturday in Baltimore. He was 64.

The cause was complications of leukemia, said Danielle Pletka, vice president of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

Mr. Rodman was lured into government by his senior thesis adviser at Harvard, Henry A. Kissinger, then the national security adviser, and he became Dr. Kissinger’s aide in negotiations that included the opening of China, peace talks on Vietnam and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

As assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, he traveled with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to gather allies for the war on terrorism in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. He led a mission to London to help establish the multinational peacekeeping force for Kabul after the overthrow of the Taliban.

His jobs included being director of the State Department’s policy planning staff; a senior editor at National Review; and director of national security programs at the Nixon Center, a foreign policy research organization. He had been a senior fellow in foreign policy at the Brookings Institution since March 2007.

Peter Warren Rodman was born on Nov. 24, 1943, in Boston. He became interested in foreign policy at 4 and later taught himself Russian to listen to Soviet broadcasts, his family said. He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard in three years and earned a master’s degree from Oxford and a law degree from Harvard.

In 1994, he published “More Precious Than Peace: The Cold War and the Struggle for the Third World,” a study of Soviet-American competition in the developing nations that Foreign Affairs called a “tour de force.” Next year, Knopf is to publish his “Presidential Command: Power, Leadership, and the Making of Foreign Policy from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush,” which melds his own experiences with extensive research.

Mr. Rodman also worked extensively with Mr. Kissinger on Mr. Kissinger’s memoirs and published many monographs and articles, some in the popular press.

Mr. Rodman is survived by his wife, the former Veronique Boulad, a daughter, Theodora, and a son, Nicholas, all of Washington; his father, Sumner, and mother, Helen, of Chestnut Hill, Mass; and a brother, John, of Newton Centre, Mass.

1 comment:

jweltsch said...

Hi Sweth,
I did not know that you worked with Peter at the Nixon Center. I interned there as a research assistant to Geoffrey Kemp in the fall of 1995 and did some work with Peter at the time. He was always very professional and open about his thoughts on foreign policy. Even if I did not always agree with his opinions he was open to mine and was always willing to engage thoughtfully. I am sure he will be missed in the foreign policy circles in DC.