WORLD-OBITS-L ArchivesArchiver > WORLD-OBITS > 2005-07 > 1121682782
From: "Peter_McCrae" <>
Subject: NITZE; Paul Henry-OCT/2004-USA
Date: Mon, 18 Jul 2005 11:33:02 +0100
Paul H Nitze
The Daily Telegraph & the telegraph.co.uk
Paul H Nitze, who died on Tuesday aged 97, was a Pentagon official
responsible for much of America's defence policy during the years of the
Cold War; he served as an adviser under eight presidents, was influential in
constructing the Marshall Plan, instrumental in the Strategic Arms
Limitation Treaty (Salt) talks, about which he was sceptical, and negotiated
for Ronald Reagan in the 1982 missile reduction talks with the Soviet Union.
His encounter with his Soviet opposite number, Yuli Kvitsinsky, during
negotiations under Reagan, became one of the most famous episodes of the
Cold War, when their "walk in the woods" was the breakthrough that led -
much later - to an agreement on Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) in 1987.
Nitze later worked with George Schultz and Reagan on the Start talks and,
well into his eighties, was advising on SDI or "Star Wars" until, in 1989,
he resigned after falling out with James Baker when the first Bush regime
came to office. But he was greeted and lauded as the elder statesman of arms
policy under George W Bush's administration: last April, a warship was named
Nitze's influence was at its peak from the first Salt negotiations under
Nixon, though he resigned during the Salt II discussions, fearful that Nixon
was offering too much to Russia. Under Jimmy Carter's presidency, when Nitze
was shut out of discussions, that fear became more acute and obvious, and
Nitze founded the Committee on the Present Danger in 1976 to oppose Carter's
readiness to sacrifice America's strategic advantage.
The advent of Reagan's presidency brought a return to favour for Nitze's
hawkish views on Salt II, and in 1982 he led the negotiations in Geneva
which Reagan recalled in his memoirs as "brilliant" - not least because they
came just as the president had described Russia as the "Evil Empire". Nitze
and Kvitsinsky, reaching deadlock, drove to a mountain road near St-Cergue,
where they went for a walk alone. The American produced papers outlining
America's options. It was, after much wrangling, to lead to an agreement on
the balance between Cruise missiles and Soviet SS-20s.
Paul Henry Nitze was born on January 16 1907 at Amherst, Massachusetts, the
son of a philologist who was professor of Romance Languages there, and later
spent many years at the University of Chicago. Young Paul was educated at
Hotchkiss School in Connecticut before attending Harvard, where he studied
Economics and Finance.
After graduating in 1928, he worked briefly for the Container Corporation of
America, before joining the New York investment firm of Dillon, Read &
Company as a vice-president. He also had his own firm, specialising in
corporate reorganisation, and held decided Republican views; though he later
declared himself a conservative Democrat.
Nitze's war work, though conducted behind a desk, was to prove vital in his
later role in the Defence Department. In 1940 he went to assist his friend
James Forrestal, who had been appointed Under Secretary of the Navy, but the
next year Nitze went to work for Nelson Rockefeller as finance director of
the Office of the Co-ordinator of Inter-American Affairs. In 1943 he became
chief of the metals branch of the Board of Economic Warfare; then director
of foreign procurement at the Foreign Economic Association. From 1944 to
1946 he was vice-chairman of the United States Strategic Bombing Survey, for
which work Harry S Truman awarded him the Medal of Merit.
But Nitze was convinced that the Allied bombing campaign had been fairly
ineffectual (he later pointed out - though to deaf ears - that for every 20
tons of American bombs dropped on Vietnam, only one ton of Vietminh supplies
were destroyed). He also held that it was pointless attempting to starve
Germany into submission.
After VE Day, Nitze was the first to interrogate Albert Speer, Hitler's
Armaments' Minister, and visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the atomic
bombs had been dropped. He joined the Department of State in the Office of
International Trade Policy, where he helped to develop the Marshall Plan for
the reconstruction of the economy of European countries, using the computing
power of the Prudential Insurance Company. In 1948, as deputy to the
Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs, he drew up contingency
plans for the Berlin Blockade.
By the end of 1949, Nitze had become director of the State Department's
policy planning staff, and one of America's chief foreign policy experts,
helping to devise the role of Nato, deciding to press ahead with the
manufacture of the H-bomb, and producing National Security Council document
68, a hawkish and highly influential paper examining the threat posed by
Russia. It was to be a key text of the "heartland" doctrines of the Cold
But when Eisenhower came to power in 1953, Nitze's promotion was opposed by
Senator Joseph McCarthy, and he fell from favour, leaving government for the
Foreign Service Educational Foundation. There he railed against the neglect
of nuclear defence ("a policy of pre-emptive surrender") and joined forces
with Edward Teller, the father of the H-bomb, to devise an assessment of
nuclear deterrent capabilities. (They preferred "Class A" - the option which
would place the West "in a position meaningfully to win a nuclear war were
deterrence to fail".)
This doctrine, on the whole, prevailed from the time Nitze rejoined
government, under Kennedy's presidency, when he became Assistant Secretary
of Defence, until the end of the Gorbachev era. After the Cuban missile
crisis, Nitze urged Kennedy to press for Soviet withdrawal in the West and,
as Secretary of the Navy, in 1963, he examined the possibility of a blockade
of the Soviet Union. He was critical of the tactics in Vietnam which, in his
view, weakened the United States to a degree which allowed Brezhnev to
develop superiority in strategic nuclear capability.
Nitze received numerous awards and honours. The School of Advanced Studies
at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, which he helped to found in 1943,
now bears his name. Reagan awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom,
the country's highest civilian honour. He was a Knight Commander of
Germany's Order of Merit, received the George C Marshall Medal and the
Jefferson Award for Public Service.
Besides his many papers on security and policy issues, his publications
included his memoirs, The Walker in the Woods: From Hiroshima to Glasnost
(1989), and Tension Between Opposites (1993).
Nitze continued to pursue business interests. His investment in a small town
in Colorado, with his sister Elizabeth "Pussy" Paepcke, paid off handsomely
when Aspen became a major skiing resort.
He enjoyed music, and took up the piano in adulthood; he was especially fond
of Bach. He skied, hunted and played tennis, and for many years owned a farm
in Maryland where he raised tobacco and cattle.
Paul Nitze married, in 1932, Phyllis Pratt, whose mother was a Republican
Congresswoman for the 17th ("Silk Stockings") division of New York. They had
two sons and two daughters. She died in 1987, and he married secondly, in
1993, Elisabeth "Leezee" Porter. She and his children survive him.
© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2005.
|NITZE; Paul Henry-OCT/2004-USA by "Peter_McCrae" <>|