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From: "Peter McCrae" <>
Subject: [W-OBITS] RODMAN: Peter Warren Rodman 2008
Date: Mon, 1 Sep 2008 20:21:48 +0100
Protg of Henry Kissinger who became an influential figure in the US
Republican foreign policy establishment
Last Updated: 10:28PM BST 21 Aug 2008
Peter Rodman: famously impeccable manners helped him to straddle factions
Peter Rodman, who has died aged 64, was one of the pre-eminent figures in
the Republican foreign policy establishment over the past four decades; his
record of service spanned the first days of the Nixon administration through
to the latter years of George W Bush.
Rodman was initiated into the corridors of power when Henry Kissinger - who
had supervised his Harvard undergraduate thesis on the Cuban Missile
Crisis - became National Security Adviser to Richard Nixon in 1969.
Rodman had matriculated at the age of 16 and graduated top of his class at
19; he became almost a surrogate son to Kissinger, who promptly appointed
the 25-year-old as his special assistant.
As Kissinger's most durable confidant, Rodman was one of the handful of
close aides who were privy to Nixon's clandestine dmarche to Red China.
Rodman's minutes of the negotiations leading up to the Strategic Arms
Limitation Treaty (SALT) with the Soviet Union, and the Paris Peace Accord
of 1973 that ended the Vietnam War, were masterpieces of accuracy and
elegance - and turned out to be critical sources for the three-volume
Rodman became Kissinger's foremost collaborator on those vast tomes, to the
extent that it was said, quite inaccurately, that he had ghosted them. And
when the author William Shawcross wrote Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon and the
Destruction of Cambodia in 1979 - suggesting that the American bombing of
Cambodia had driven the Khmer Rouge to commit genocide on their own people -
Rodman took up the cudgels in defence of his mentor.
In lengthy exchanges with Shawcross in The American Spectator, Rodman
attacked this work, which had been the toast of literary London.
Rodman's authority derived from peerless command of the official record; and
he genuinely believed that to assert American culpability for Pol Pot's
crimes was akin to blaming "Bomber" Harris for the Holocaust.
Peter Warren Rodman was born in Boston on November 24 1943; he became
interested in foreign policy as a small boy when he built a homemade radio
and then taught himself Russian from Soviet broadcasts. He was educated at
Roxbury Latin School and, after graduating from Harvard, he read PPE at
Worcester College, Oxford.
Upon the defeat of Gerald Ford in 1976, Rodman left government for the
Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC. He returned
to join the Reagan administration as director of the Policy Planning Staff
at the State Department under George Shultz.
Kissinger, as a believer in classic Realpolitik and the stability of the
international system, was uncomfortable with some of the crusading aspects
of Reagan's foreign policy towards the Communist bloc; Rodman none the less
helped to persuade his patron to chair a bipartisan commission on US policy
towards Central America in 1983-84.
The Reagan administration's approach to El Salvador and Nicaragua was highly
controversial, but enlisting Kissinger was a masterstroke that helped shore
up the support of the American centre ground for the President's opposition
to Communist incursions in the region.
>From 1987 to 1991 Rodman served as a Deputy National Security Adviser,
straddling the latter Reagan and early "Bush I" administrations.
His rare ability to transcend the divide between different tendencies within
the Republican coalition made an immediate impression on Donald Rumsfeld,
who served as the Reagan administration's Middle East envoy. As Rumsfeld
told The Daily Telegraph: "Rodman defied easy categorisation." But his
capacity to straddle factions also owed much to his famously impeccable
After leaving government Rodman worked as a senior editor for National
Review and at the Nixon Centre in Washington; he also contributed to The
Daily Telegraph. Although the superpower confrontation was over, Rodman was
already thinking ahead: as early as 1992 he predicted the emerging salience
of radical Islamism. But he believed that the biggest threat of all was
Western self-doubt in the face of such a challenge.
Such sentiments informed Rodman's thinking when he was again recalled to
government service, this time as Assistant Secretary of Defence for
International Security Affairs under Donald Rumsfeld. Rodman was a key
drafter of the strategy memorandum sent to President Bush for the summit at
Camp David on September 16 2001, just five days after the attacks on the
World Trade Centre.
It urged that the United States confront "the entire network of states,
non-state entities and organisations that engage in or support terrorism
against the US and our interest, including the states that harbour
terrorists. the US cannot tolerate continued state support for terrorism,
regardless of whether a specific tie can be established to the perpetrators
of the World Trade Centre and Pentagon outrages."
In late 2001 Rodman negotiated a memorandum of agreement between the United
States and Britain over the rules of engagement of the international
peacekeeping force (ISAF) to stabilise Kabul after the overthrow of the
Taliban in Afghanistan; Britain would be supplying the commander of the new
The Americans had refused to place their troops under foreign control.
Rumsfeld was concerned that, in the event of things going wrong, American
units would be diverted to rescuing the more lightly armed ISAF contingent -
thus interfering with the fight against al-Qaeda.
So concerned was Rumsfeld about this diversion of resources that Rodman and
his colleagues quipped that the Defence Secretary might set Anglo-American
relations back to 1812 - when the British burned the White House. But it was
a measure of his diplomatic skill that he was able to persuade both Rumsfeld
and the British to accept a compromise accord.
Rodman's role at this juncture was especially important in maintaining
transatlantic comity, since only later was Rumsfeld able to forge a close
relationship with his British counterpart, the Secretary of State for
Defence, Geoff Hoon.
Rodman also helped to drive the emerging American strategic dialogue with
India, which had been placed on ice after New Delhi tested a nuclear device
in 1998 - thus belying the conventional wisdom about American
"unilateralism" and indifference to allies.
Prior to leaving government for the last time in early 2007, Rodman helped
to persuade Donald Rumsfeld that the White House was correct to request a
reappraisal of strategy in Iraq - which resulted eventually in the "surge"
of five additional combat brigades comprising 30,000 troops. Until then
Rumsfeld (contrary to another widely held belief) had actually been
reluctant to contradict the insistence of American commanders in the field
that they had sufficient men on the ground.
Rodman spent much of the past year finishing his magnum opus, Presidential
Command: Power, Leadership and the Making of Foreign Policy from Richard
Nixon to George W Bush, which will be published by Random House in 2009.
Although Rodman was the most loyal and discreet of public servants, he none
the less criticised the drawn-out workings of the NSC system under Bush: the
administration's penchant for reaching interdepartmental consensus prior to
sending a proposal up to the Commander-in-Chief prevented divergent policy
options from reaching the President.
Peter Rodman, who died in Baltimore on August 2, married, in 1980, Veronique
Boulad, herself a leading light at the American Enterprise Institute, the
influential Washington think tank. They had a son and a daughter.
|[W-OBITS] RODMAN: Peter Warren Rodman 2008 by "Peter McCrae" <>|