Paul Henry Nitze (January 16, 1907 - October 19, 2004) was a high-ranking United States government official who helped shape Cold War defense policy over the course of numerous presidential administrations.I met Nitze in 1966 when, in his tenure as Secretary of the Navy, he was gracious to a young analyst (me) whom the Commandant of the Marine Corps had called upon to make a dubious case for sending more Marines to Vietnam.
Born in Amherst, Massachusetts, Nitze attended the Hotchkiss School graduated from Harvard University in 1928. After working in investment banking, he enter government service during World War II. In 1942, he was chief of the Metals and Minerals Branch of the Board of Economic Warfare, until named director, Foreign Procurement and Development Branch of the Foreign Economic Administration in 1943. During the period 1944-1946, Nitze served as director and then as vice chairman of the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey....
In the early post-war era, he served in the Truman Administration as head of policy planning for the State Dept (1950-1953). He was also principal author in 1950 of a highly influential secret National Security Council document (NSC-68), which provided the strategic outline for increased U.S. expenditures to counter the perceived threat of Soviet armament.
...In 1961 President Kennedy appointed Nitze assistant secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs and in 1963 he became the Secretary of the Navy, serving until 1967.
Following his term as secretary of the Navy, he served as deputy secretary of Defense (1967-1969), as a member of the U.S. delegation to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) (1969-1973), and assistant secretary of Defense for International Affairs (1973-1976). Later, fearing Soviet rearmament, he opposed the ratification of SALT II (1979). He was President Ronald Reagan's chief negotiator of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (1981-1984). In 1984, Nitze was named special advisor to the president and secretary of State on Arms Control. For more than forty years, Nitze was one of the chief architects of U.S. policy toward the Soviet Union. President Reagan awarded Nitze the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1985 for his contributions to the freedom and security of the United States....
Nitze later served as a trustee of the defense think-tank where I was chief financial and administrative officer. He spoke seldom, but when he did he cut to the heart of the matter.
Nitze was a rare "public servant" who truly served his country. He was hard-nosed, non-partisan, and brilliant.