Paul Henry Nitze '24*
Profession: Leading Cold War strategist of the 20th century
During his 97 years, Paul Henry Nitze witnessed and contributed significantly to 20th-century world events. After graduating cum laudefrom Harvard University in 1928, Nitze joined the New York investment banking firm of Dillon, Read and Company. He left his position as a vice president of that firm in 1941, however, to join the war effort, becoming financial director of the Office of Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs and beginning under Roosevelt what would be a 50-year career in government service. Nitze became director of Foreign Procurement and Development for the Foreign Economic Administration. Then, from 1944 through 1946, he served first as director and then as vice chairman of the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey, in which capacity he witnessed the devastation in Nagasaki shortly after the atom bomb was dropped in 1945. Later, he helped shape Europe's post-war recovery. For his service to the nation President Truman awarded him the Medal of Merit.
From 1947 until 1953 Nitze served in various positions within the Department of State. In 1948 he organized the group that formulated the ideas of Secretary George Marshall into what became known as the Marshall Plan. That same year Nitze was named deputy assistant secretary of state for economic affairs. He became deputy director of the State Department's policy planning staff in 1949 and then director the following year. From 1953 until 1961 he was president of the Foreign Service Education Foundation in Washington, DC, during which time his publications included the document United States Foreign Policy 1945-1955. Then, in January 1961, Nitze returned to the State Department to become assistant secretary of defense (international security affairs) and took part in discussions surrounding the Cuban Missile Crisis. He served in that capacity until President John F. Kennedy appointed him the 57th secretary of the Navy in 1963.
For two decades Nitze played a key role in the limitation of world armaments. In 1967 he succeeded Cyrus Vance as deputy secretary of defense. From 1969 until his resignation in 1974, he served as the representative of the secretary of defense on the U.S. delegation to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) with the Soviet Union. During this period Nitze was a consultant on defense policy and the U.S./Soviet strategic relationship to various government departments and private firms, and he served as the key negotiator in the SALT talks. In 1981 Nitze was chosen to head the U.S. delegation to the intermediate-range nuclear forces negotiations with the Soviet Union, which convened in Geneva. He became known for the "Walk in the Woods" with a Soviet negotiator that led to the elimination of intermediate-range nuclear forces missiles. Starting in January 1985, Nitze served as special advisor to the president and the secretary of state on arms control matters. For his contribution to the freedom and security of his country President Reagan awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Reagan in 1985.
In 1986 President Ronald Reagan appointed Nitze ambassador-at-large, a position that he filled until his retirement from the State Department in 1989. Co-founder of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in 1943, he was honored when the school was named the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in 1989. Once retired from the State Department, he became a diplomat in residence at the school. Throughout his career he received honorary degrees from numerous universities and colleges. His book From Hiroshima to Glasnost: A Memoir, 1989received the Adolph Bentinck Literature Prize. Nitze was the 1967 recipient of the Alumni Award at Hotchkiss.