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Peter W. Rodman

Former Brookings Expert

Peter W. Rodman, Brookings senior fellow in Foreign Policy, died on Saturday, August 2, 2008 at the age of 64 due to complications of leukemia. During his career, Rodman served five Republican presidents, from Richard M. Nixon to George W. Bush. Among his many presidential appointments, Rodman served on the National Security Councils of Presidents Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush. During the current administration of President George W. Bush, Rodman served as an assistant secretary of defense and as a member of the DoD’s Defense Policy Board. From those unique vantage points, Rodman helped shape U.S. foreign policy for almost four decades.

Rodman served most recently as assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs from 2001 to 2007, working under then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. A former member of the National Security Council staff, Rodman served as deputy assistant to the president for national security affairs under President Reagan from 1986 to 1987. Earlier in the Reagan Administration, Rodman served as director of the State Department’s policy planning staff, under then Secretary of State George Shultz. During the Nixon, Ford and Reagan Administrations, Rodman worked extensively as a special assistant to former National Security Adviser and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

In March 2007, Rodman left public service to become a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution where he researched and wrote a new book on U.S. presidents and their national security policies. At the time of his death, Rodman had just completed the book entitled Presidential Command: Power, Leadership, and the Making of Foreign Policy from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush. The book focuses on the administrations of seven presidents—Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, William Clinton, and George W. Bush—and explores the relationship between these presidents and their cabinet secretaries and most senior advisors, assessing how those relationships shaped U.S. national security policies.

Over the years, Rodman wrote several books, articles, and case studies on presidential leadership and policymaking. Among his many books, Rodman authored More Precious Than Peace: The Cold War and the Struggle for the Third World, which detailed how U.S. cold war policies played out in developing countries such as Afghanistan, Angola and Cambodia. His other works include America Adrift: A Strategic Assessment and Uneasy Giant: Challenges to American Predominance.

In the past, Rodman served as the director of national security programs at The Nixon Center, as a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and as an editor of the National Review. Rodman also served as a member of the board of trustees of Freedom House and as the vice president and as a member of the board of directors of the World Affairs Council of Washington, DC.

Born on November 24, 1943 in Boston, Massachusetts, Rodman died on August 2, 2008. Rodman was educated at the Roxbury Latin School, and later at Harvard College, where he graduated summa cum laude. He completed his bachelors and masters degrees at Oxford University, and later earned his J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Rodman is survived by his wife, Veronique, and his two children, Theodora and Nicholas.

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