Lincoln Gordon was one of the architects of US cold war foreign policy — a policy that Putin seems determined to persuade us was necessary and appropriate, even if some were skeptical for many years. Lincoln Gordon lived at Collington until his death in 2009. (New York Times obituary here.) Bruce Smith was a colleague at Brookings and is now his biographer. Smith’s new book about Gordon will be the subject of his speech on Sunday.
Small portions of the Times obit (which portions give only a small part of his career) follow:
In a career split between academic appointments and government service, Dr. Gordon, a Democrat, taught business and international affairs at Harvard, served on the War Production Board during World War II and was later a consultant to the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission, a White House economics adviser and the assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs.
. . . .
After the election of President John F. Kennedy in 1960, Dr. Gordon served on a task force that developed the Alliance for Progress, the program that provided aid intended to dissuade Latin America from revolution and socialism. Dr. Gordon took up the ambassadorship in Brazil in 1961 at a time of high inflation and just as a left-wing president, João Goulart, took office.
The book’s publisher reports that:
Smith, who worked with Gordon at the Brookings Institution, explores the statesman-scholar’s virtues as well as his flaws, and his study is strengthened by insights drawn from his personal connection to his subject. In many ways, Gordon’s life and career embodied Cold War America and the way in which the nation’s institutions evolved to manage the twentieth century’s vast changes. Smith adeptly shows how this “wise man” personified both America’s postwar optimism and as its dawning realization of its own fallibility during the Vietnam era.
Bruce L. R. Smith is a retired professor of political science at Columbia University and a Brookings Scholar. He is currently affiliated with the School of Public Policy at George Mason University. He is the author or editor of many books, including American Science Policy since World War II, The RAND Corporation, and The Advisers: Scientists in the Policy Process.
In addition to much else, the speech should remind us of earlier eras and times both simpler and more complex than now. Well worth attending and coming with good questions.