Friday, October 22, 2004

Paul Nitze - The Washington Times: Editorials/OP-ED - October 22, 2004

Paul Nitze - The Washington Times: Editorials/OP-ED - October 22, 2004: "Paul Nitze

The roles are reversed these days, but half a century ago, at the Cold War's outset, Democrats were foreign-policy hawks and Republicans were the party of isolation. Paul Nitze was a key Democratic architect of that bygone era. He served under eight presidents from Roosevelt to Reagan, and was a walking history of the Cold War. He died Tuesday in Georgetown at age 97.
His life reminds us what it meant to be a Cold War Democrat and committed anti-Communist at a time when those designations meant something. More than anyone, Mr. Nitze invented the policy of containment. He came to view the Soviet Union as a grave threat in an era when the nature of the Soviet regime was still unclear to most Americans. As the author of "NSC-68," often called a blueprint for the Cold War, Mr. Nitze emphasized values as much as armaments in describing the Soviet threat. "Our values, our policy and actions must be such as to foster a fundamental change in the nature of the Soviet system," he wrote.

Though prone to feuds, Mr. Nitze was no fierce partisan. He trained his eye on American national interests alone. "He always seemed too conservative for the liberal administrations and too liberal for the conservative ones," his New York Times obituary claimed yesterday. That's only half right. The dovish left wing of the Democratic Party shunned him, but conservative Democrats and liberal or moderate Republicans did not. Mr. Nitze's bipartisan sensibility was probably what kept him out of the cabinet (He rose only as high as deputy defense secretary, a position his protege, Paul Wolfowitz, currently occupies).
He described himself as "an assertive, hard-nosed pragmatist," an apt designation. He always looked for what worked. After World War II, he distinguished himself by demonstrating to onlookers in government the futility of the Allied bombing campaign against European cities. Later, he played a key role in creating the SALT I arms limitation treaty, only to turn against the second round of SALT negotiations under Jimmy Carter when it became clear that these, like the Allied bombings, were futile. He helped found the Committee on the Present Danger, the group that spearheaded the effort to thwart Mr. Carter's ill-advised moves. It succeeded.
As a model for public servants, Mr. Nitze was about the best there is. His independence of mind and creativity were the stuff of legend, and should be the envy of any federal agency-manager. It's worth noting these qualities at times served to keep him out of government. More than once he nullified his prospects for a high-powered job over a matter of principle, or turned one down outright for the same reasons.
Paul Nitze's legacy is nothing short of towering in the annals of American foreign policy and government. The country mourns his loss."