Saying Goodbye to Peter


Peter Rodman died of complications from leukemia on Saturday, August 2nd. I didn’t know he was ill, and over the last decade we weren’t close friends but were well acquainted. I think he disliked my foreign policy views and political direction quite a bit — but he was always a gentleman when we crossed paths.

When I first met Rodman, he was working at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and was desperate to move into something different. He had been Henry Kissinger’s closest aide for many years — both in government and out, and it was well known that the real author of the Kissinger book, Diplomacy was Rodman.
One of my first tasks given to me as executive director of the Nixon Center in 1994 by my then boss Dimitri Simes was to hire Rodman as Director of National Security Studies. He joined us – and shortly after, I went to the Senate to work for Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM). We agreed a lot on Asia at the time. Peter, then, believed in engagement strategies with China and other communist states, but I think his views changed over time.
Rodman later became Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs — the same post Joseph Nye held during the Clinton administration. He was last a Senior Fellow at Brookings. He also served as an editor of National Review.
In a way, I was and am a realist that tilts towards progressive internationalism and Peter Rodman was a realist who swam towards neoconservatism. I don’t think he ever fully embraced the neoconservative agenda in full. There was still a core of old Kissinger in him.
But I liked Rodman and respected him and wish his wife Veronique and his children Theodora and Nicholas sincere condolences.
He was a colleague who represented an important part of the national security debate here in Washington, a part of the debate that I felt needed to be challenged with alternatives — but Peter Rodman carried himself and his views as a public intellectual in a way that his close colleagues as well as my own could learn much from.
— Steve Clemons


2 comments on “Saying Goodbye to Peter

  1. daveinboca says:

    I knew Peter Rodman from when he visited Saudi Arabia with
    Kissinger in the seventies & I negotiated buying him a funduqiya
    [rifle] in the market of Taif while serving as HK’s “minder.” Later I
    knew him while working at CSIS & also lived next door to him in
    Wesley Heights in DC for a short time. Like his boss, he wasn’t
    known for his warmth & accessibility.
    It was well known that he researched and wrote almost all of
    Kissinger’s books on foreign policy after HK left government.


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