The Buzz

U.S. Foreign Policy Leaders We Lost in 2015

Year’s end is a time for taking stock, counting successes, and assessing failures. It is also a time for remembering those who are no longer with us. Here are ten Americans who died in 2015 who through their vision, service, intellect or courage helped shape U.S. foreign policy. They will be missed.

Samuel R. Berger (b. 1945) was national security adviser during President Bill Clinton’s second term. A graduate of Cornell University and Harvard Law School, Berger became a successful trade lawyer in Washington, DC. He also was deeply involved in Democratic Party politics. His first government service came during President Jimmy Carter’s presidency, when he served as deputy director of policy planning at the State Department. Berger was a long-time friend of Bill Clinton; the two first met working at a McGovern-for-President rally at the Alamo in 1972. When Clinton became president, Berger was named deputy national security adviser. At the start of Clinton’s second term, Berger succeeded Anthony Lake, who had also been his boss at the Office of Policy Planning, as national security adviser. The appointment rankled some experts who preferred a career foreign-policy person in the job; Henry Kissinger said that “you can’t expect a trade lawyer to be a global strategist.” In 2005 Berger pled guilty and was fined $10,000 for illegally removing classified documents from the National Archives two years earlier. The day before he died, the World Food Program USA honored Berger with its first Global Humanitarian Award.

Arnaud de Borchgrave (b. 1926) was a distinguished foreign correspondent, best-selling novelist, and newspaper editor whose life sounds like a movie. The son of a Belgian count, he fled Belgium after the Nazi invasion in 1940, diving off the freighter that was supposed to take him to freedom because the captain was instead sailing for Germany. Rescued by a British naval destroyer, he went to school in England before eventually persuading his grandmother to lie about his age so he could join Britain’s Merchant Navy just in time to be wounded in the D-Day invasion. After the war he worked briefly for United Press before moving to Newsweek as foreign editor. He covered at least seventeen wars—he was wounded while reporting from Vietnam—and claimed to have kept “the starched combat fatigues of 12 nations” in his apartment in Switzerland. (He also told friends “all he needed to bring when he travelled on assignment was a tuxedo and a safari suit.”) Newsweek fired de Borchgrave in 1980 because it concluded that his conservative opinions were seeping into his coverage of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. That same year his best-selling novel, The Spike, co-written the journalist Robert Moss, made the best-seller list. The pair followed up with another best-seller, Monimbo, in 1983. In 1985, de Borchgrave became editor of the Washington Times, a post he held until he stepped down in 1991. In addition to his journalistic efforts, de Borchgrave was a long-time senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

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