Peter Rodman, RIP

Peter Rodman died over the weekend at the age of 64. Rodman served in positions of great responsibility under every Republican president since Richard Nixon, ending his career in government service as assistant secretary of defense in the Bush administration until last year. The Hudson Institute has posted a good summary of his career. Michael Ledeen writes:

Peter Rodman was one of the most significant members of his Washington generation, and long after those whose names routinely appear on today’s front pages have gone, his name will be remembered and his influence will endure. He was at Henry Kissinger’s side from Harvard through the White House and State, he was indispensable in the crafting of K’s unforgettable memoirs. He then held a series of important jobs in government, culminating in a nearly eight-year stint as assistant secretary of defense, which he only left a few months ago. He was universally respected, a rare fine gentleman in a town that clones boors, and a first-class mind with the rhetorical skills to express his thoughts.

In Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon and the Destruction of Cambodia, William Shawcross excoriated the United States for the Cambodian genocide. In the pages of the American Spectator, Peter Rodman memorably dissented from Shawcross’s indictment. Shawcross responded, and the Spectator gave Rodman the last word. Shawcross has included the memorable Rodman/Shawcross exchange in the appendix to the most recent edition of Sideshow. John Podhoretz has nevertheless fairly described Rodman’s part of the exchange as “one of the most authoritative takedowns I (or anybody else) has ever read or written.”

Out of office last year, Rodman teamed up with Shawcross to implore the United States to stay the course in Iraq. Harking back to Cambodia, the resulting op-ed column was published in the New York Times as “Defeat’s killing fields.” The joint byline was remarkable. More importantly, it made a striking contribution to the debate over the American involvement in Iraq at a crucial time. Rodman’s death obviously marks a great loss. Middle East Strategy at Harvard has posted a nice set of remembrances. Our condolences to his family and many friends.

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