Eugene V. Rostow

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The December 6, 2002 Yale Bulletin & Calendar announced the passing of Eugene V. Rostow. According to the article:

"Eugene V. Rostow, Sterling Professor Emeritus of Law, a former dean of the Law School and an influential scholar and government official, died on Nov. 25 at age 89.

"Professor Rostow shuttled between government service and academia several times in his career.

"Born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in New Haven, Mr. Rostow attended Yale, graduating Phi Beta Kappa at age 19, and then studied economics at Kings College, Oxford. He then returned to the United States and to Yale, graduating from the Law School in 1937.

"After a stint at a New York law firm, Mr. Rostow joined the Yale Law School faculty in 1938 and became a full professor in 1944. During World War II, he served in the Lend Lease Administration, overseeing the provision of supplies to American allies.

"He was an early critic of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and, especially, of the Supreme Court decisions that validated the policy. His 1945 article in the Yale Law Journal criticizing those decisions became a foundational part of the movement to provide restitution to interned Japanese Americans.

"Professor Rostow became dean of the Law School in 1955 and served until 1965. He oversaw a program to revamp the Law School's curriculum, bringing a more interdisciplinary approach to the study of law, as well as increasing the number of seminars and the opportunities for independent study. He also built up the school's endowment and recruited highly respected legal scholars to the faculty.

"Current Law School Dean Anthony T. Kronman said, 'Much of the Yale Law School we now know -- to which we have become so accustomed by the passage of time -- was built or rebuilt during Gene's deanship years. Gene's intellect, will and character were molding forces in the evolution of the modern Yale Law School, and his legacy is all about us. Gene Rostow was one of the Law School's great deans.'

"After his time in the deanship, Professor Rostow again entered government service as undersecretary for political affairs in 1966. He was the third-highest ranking official in Lyndon B. Johnson's State Department and became well known for his defense of America's policy in Vietnam. He firmly believed that the United States had treaty obligations to defend South Vietnam and a moral obligation to oppose the spread of communism. He also helped draft a crucial United Nations Security Council resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He returned to the Law School in 1969.

"Professor Rostow was an expert on international security and disarmament. He wrote in the New York Times in 1969 that 'a balance of power is the only possible foundation for peace.' He advocated building up America's defense forces and was a founding member of the Committee on the Present Danger.

"In 1981, he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to direct the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, making him the highest-ranking Democrat in the Reagan administration.

"He became Sterling Professor Emeritus in 1984. His many books included 'Sovereign Prerogative,' 1962; 'Law, Power and the Pursuit of Peace,' 1968; 'The Ideal in Law,' 1978; and 'Toward Managed Peace,' 1993.

"Professor Rostow is survived by his wife of 69 years, the former Edna Greenberg; three children, Victor, Nicholas and Jessica; two brothers; and six grandchildren."


Jon Thurber wrote an obituary on Rostow -- "Vietnam 'hawk' Rostow, who left mark as Yale Law dean, dies at 89" for the Seattle Times (December 1, 2002):

"Eugene V. Rostow, an influential figure both in and out of government who served in the State Department, where he was a strong defender of U.S. policy in Vietnam, has died. He was 89.

"Mr. Rostow, who in his last government assignment was director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency under President Reagan, died Monday at an assisted-living facility in Alexandria, Va. The cause of death was congestive heart failure, family members said.

"In the mid-1960s, Mr. Rostow -- along with his more influential brother Walt Rostow -- were leading figures in the growing U.S. involvement in Vietnam. As national-security adviser to President Johnson, Walt Rostow was the architect of much of the U.S. policy in Southeast Asia. Eugene Rostow defended that policy from his position as undersecretary of state for political affairs.

"Eugene V. Rostow was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., to parents who were politically active. His father was a socialist who named his son after Eugene V. Debs, the Socialist Party presidential candidate.

"A Phi Beta Kappa, Mr. Rostow graduated from Yale in 1933 and went on to study economics at King's College at Cambridge University in England.

"He returned to Yale to study law and was editor of the university's law journal. After graduating, he joined a New York law firm but returned to Yale as a faculty member in 1938. He became a full professor in 1944.

"Back problems kept Mr. Rostow out of the military during World War II, but he took a leave of absence from Yale and served in the Office of Lend-Lease Administration.

"During the war, Mr. Rostow was an early critic of the Supreme Court's ruling that supported the internment of Japanese Americans.

"He once said that many were being sent to camps 'on a record which wouldn't support a conviction for stealing a dog.'

"He wrote an influential paper for the Yale Law Review in 1945 that was subsequently credited with helping fuel efforts to provide interned Japanese Americans with restitution.

"Mr. Rostow was named dean of the Yale Law School in 1955. As dean, he recruited a number of influential legal scholars and, with the aid of a $1.6 million Ford Foundation grant, helped refocus the school's curriculum.

"The new program, which began in 1956, emphasized the teaching of law as it related to other areas like history, philosophy, politics and sociology.

"'Our purpose,' Mr. Rostow said of the program, 'is to train lawyers, law teachers and public servants who will be capable of constructive leadership in American life.'

"Anthony Kronman, current dean of the Yale Law School, recalled Mr. Rostow as one the school's 'great deans.'

"'Much of the Yale Law School we now know -- to which we have become so accustomed by the passage of time -- was built or rebuilt during Gene's deanship years,' Kronman said. 'Gene's intellect, will and character were molding forces in the evolution of the modern Yale Law School, and his legacy is all about us.'

"After leaving Yale, Mr. Rostow was named undersecretary of state in 1966. He held the post until 1969.

"'I think he saw our treaty obligations as the fundamental principle,' his son Victor told The Washington Post last week, explaining his father's support for the U.S. escalation in Vietnam. 'Beyond that, he also believed that if we could establish a breathing space for South Vietnam that they would govern themselves in a manner that would be a good deal more pleasant and effective for the people of Vietnam than what transpired.'

"Through the 1970s, Mr. Rostow focused as a private citizen on nuclear-proliferation issues. He wrote extensively and was a member of the Committee on the Present Danger.

"Though a lifelong Democrat, Mr. Rostow joined the Republican Reagan administration in 1981 as head of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. But by 1983, Mr. Rostow was forced out of the job after senior administration officials deemed him not sufficiently hawkish on arms issues.

"In the early 1990s, he served as a fellow at the U.S. Institute for Peace in Washington, D.C."

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