LAWRENCE S. EAGLEBURGER, 1930-2011: REQUIESCAT IN PACE
"Lawrence S. Eagleburger, a troubleshooting diplomat and senior foreign policy adviser to presidents who served the country for more than 40 years, including 42 days as secretary of state at the close of President George Bush’s term, died on Saturday in Charlottesville, Va. He was 80.
Lawrence S. Eagleburger, center, served as a foreign policy adviser to presidents and as secretary of state for the first President George Bush. He specialized in crises, specifically in the Balkans. The cause was pneumonia, according to a spokeswoman for the family, Anaïs Haase, who said he died at the University of Virginia Medical Center after having a heart attack earlier in the week. He lived in Charlottesville, on a 40-acre estate.
Mr. Eagleburger, a Republican who rose to prominence as the top aide to Henry A. Kissinger in the Nixon and Ford administrations, was candid in his confidential advice and outspoken in his public comments, particularly regarding his unhappiness about the Iraq war started by President George W. Bush.
Over a Foreign Service career that began in the early 1960s, Mr. Eagleburger became known for his dry, sometimes caustic wit, rumpled suits and reliance on a cane, forced upon him by a knee injury and a muscle disorder. Chronic asthma required him to use inhalers, though he continued to smoke.
He specialized in crises, often in Europe and specifically in the Balkans, where he spent seven years over two tours of duty. In the early 1980s, when he served as the ambassador in Belgrade, he was unable to keep Yugoslavia from dissolving several years later.
During the first Bush presidency, Mr. Eagleburger was second in command at the State Department under James A. Baker III, and because of his previous experience in the Middle East as Mr. Kissinger’s aide, he was sent on a delicate mission to Israel in 1991, at the start of the Persian Gulf war, which had been mounted to eject Iraq from Kuwait.
Mr. Eagleburger’s task was to persuade the Israelis under Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir to stay out of the fight, even though Iraqi Scud missiles were landing in Israel. The United States was concerned then, as it would be 12 years later in the war in Iraq, that Israel not be seen as a military partner, fearing that such a perception would alienate Arab and Muslim states willing to help. His success eventually led to his appointment as secretary of state, the first Foreign Service officer to be so elevated".
Bernard Gwertzman, "Lawrence Eagleburger, a Top Diplomat, Dies at 80," The New York Times. 5 June 2011, in www.nytimes.com.
"The other was Eyre Crowe, 'the Bird', red-headed, crinkled, dowdy, meticulous, a conscientious agnostic with small faith in anything but his brain and his Britain, and with no possessions but a dazzling application which already proclaimed him to be what he was to become, the greatest public servant of his age."
Lord Vansittart, The Mist Procession: The autobiography of Lord Vansittart. (1958), p. 45.
Former Secretary of State, Lawrence Eagleburger, is one of the last of the Kissingerian old-guard, and one of the last, truly erste-klasse, ultra-professional practicioners of the subtle art of diplomacy 1. With his passing the other day, other than Dr. Kissinger himself, there only remains General Scowcroft and former Secretary of State James A. Baker, III. It is truly depressing when one thinks about it, that Eagleburger's tenure at the State Department in the regime of Bush the Elder, has been followed by a unmitigated succession of mediocrities and time-servers: Warren Christopher, Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice and currently Hillary Clinton. Given this unimpressive roster of individuals in the past nineteen years in the Secretary's chair, is it any great surprise that American diplomacy and indeed American grand strategy, has been so lackluster if not indeed dysfunctional? I for one, do not see any likelihood of great improvement, as long as the post of Secretary of State, is occupied by individuals who are almost completely unequipped for the post and its powers and functions.
1. In volume two of his memoirs, Kissinger refers to the following individuals as: "my close associates - General Scowcroft, Larry Eagleberger, Winston Lord, Jonathan Howe, Richard H. Solomon, and Peter Rodman". See: Henry A. Kissinger, Years of Upheaval. (1982), p. 366. One might point out though that the above list omits, two essential figures in Kissinger's coterie: Alexander Haig and William Hyland.