Ambassador and alum to teach at Yale

One day after leaving the State Department, Ambassador John Negroponte ’60 announced Wednesday that he would join Yale’s faculty in the fall of 2009.

Negroponte, who until Tuesday served as deputy secretary of state and was the country’s first director of national intelligence between 2005 and 2007, will spend at least three years at Yale as a lecturer and senior research fellow. In that time, he will co-teach the Studies in Grand Strategy seminar and will also teach an undergraduate and graduate course in international studies and international relations.

“Now that I’ve retired from my government post, I would like to share some of the perspectives and experiences that I’ve picked up in 44 years of government,” Negroponte said in a phone interview with the News. “I’ve always been attracted to the idea of teaching about diplomacy and national security policy, and this is a great opportunity for me and hopefully for my students.”

Negroponte said he will start off co-teaching Grand Strategy in the fall semester, and will also teach a class of his own beginning in the spring. He will travel to Yale once a week, spending the rest of his time in Washington, D.C., where he will work as vice chairman of McLarty Associates, a global consulting firm.

John Gaddis, director of the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy, said Negroponte brings a lifetime of experience that will benefit his students at Yale.

“Look at the number of jobs he’s held,” Gaddis said. “It’s quite remarkable. One of the things we’ve been trying to do in the Grand Strategy program is to bring more practitioners to campus, and we’re very fortunate to have landed him.”

Indeed, the 69-year-old Negroponte is nothing if not a diplomatic practitioner. Since graduating from Yale, where he was affiliated with Davenport College, Negroponte has devoted nearly five decades of his career to foreign service. He has served as the United States permanent representative to the United Nations as well as ambassador to four countries — Honduras, Mexico, the Philippinies and Iraq — and was an important adviser to President George W. Bush ’68.

Negroponte will now become the Brady-Johnson distinguished senior research fellow in Grand Strategy and lecturer in international affairs at the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies, according to a University statement.

Ted Wittenstein ’04, who served as an aide to Negroponte when he was both director of national intelligence and deputy secretary of state, said the ambassador would serve as an exemplar of public service to Yale students.

“He’s certainly imbued in me a real commitment to my country and to the importance of serving my country,” said Wittenstein, himself an alumnus of the Grand Strategy program. “He’s someone who’s held real leadership positions in Washington and all around the world and he’ll be a great addition to the team.”

Negroponte said he previously taught a seminar on scientific technology and diplomacy at Georgetown University when he was serving as assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs in the late 1980s.


  • Gustavo

    Was Henry Kissinger unavailable?

  • rabble rabble

    “Look at the number of jobs he’s held,” Gaddis said. “It’s quite remarkable."

    George W. Bush held a lot of jobs too. He was also quite remarkable.

    Negroponte, in a letter to the Economist in 1982: "simply untrue to state that death squads have made their appearance in Honduras." Negroponte ordered the removal of all mention of torture and execution from a 1982 report on human rights in Honduras.

    I guess he is a great "practitioner" and we are so "fortunate to have landed him." Does Prof. Gaddis think it was fortunate for Central America to have landed him in the 80s? Does this Grand Strategy program even care about that kind of boring liberal right/wrong stuff?

    At least the YDN or someone could've mentioned this, even if to refute its importance.

  • Derechos? Nunca!

    Yale should be ashamed. It should be encouraged to rescind the appointment.

    "John Negroponte was ambassador to Honduras from 1981-1985. As such he supported and carried out a US-sponsored policy of violations to human rights and international law. Among other things he supervised the creation of the El Aguacate air base, where the US trained Nicaraguan Contras during the 1980's. The base was used as a secret detention and torture center, in August 2001 excavations at the base discovered the first of the corpses of the 185 people, including two Americans, who are thought to have been killed and buried at this base.

    During his ambassadorship, human rights violations in Honduras became systematic. The infamous Battalion 316, trained by the CIA and Argentine military, kidnaped, tortured and killed hundreds of people. Negroponte knew about these human rights violations and yet continued to collaborate with them, while lying to Congress." —

    "Substantial evidence subsequently emerged to support the contention that Negroponte was aware that serious violations of human rights were carried out by the Honduran government, but despite this did not recommend ending U.S. military aid to the country. Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, on September 14, 2001, as reported in the Congressional Record, aired his suspicions on the occasion of Negroponte's nomination to the position of UN ambassador:

    Based upon the Committee's review of State Department and CIA documents, it would seem that Ambassador Negroponte knew far more about government perpetrated human rights abuses than he chose to share with the committee in 1989 or in Embassy contributions at the time to annual State Department Human Rights reports.[4]

    Among other evidence, Dodd cited a cable sent by Negroponte, in 1985, that made it clear that Negroponte was aware of the threat of "future human rights abuses" by "secret operating cells" left over by General Gustavo Álvarez Martinez, the chief of the Honduran armed forces, after he was forcibly removed from his post by fellow military commanders in 1984.

    In April 2005, as the Senate confirmation hearings for the National Intelligence post took place, hundreds of documents were released by the State Department in response to a FOIA request by The Washington Post. The documents, cables that Negroponte sent to Washington while serving as ambassador to Honduras, indicated that he played a more active role than previously known in managing US efforts against the leftist Sandinistas. According to the Post, the image of Negroponte that emerges from the cables is that of an

    exceptionally energetic, action-oriented ambassador whose anti-communist convictions led him to play down human rights abuses in Honduras, the most reliable U.S. ally in the region. There is little in the documents the State Department has released so far to support his assertion that he used "quiet diplomacy" to persuade the Honduran authorities to investigate the most egregious violations, including the mysterious disappearance of dozens of government opponents.[5]

    The New York Times wrote that the documents revealed

    a tough cold warrior who enthusiastically carried out President Ronald Reagan's strategy. They show he sent admiring reports to Washington about the Honduran military chief, who was blamed for human rights violations, warned that peace talks with the Nicaraguan regime might be a dangerous "Trojan horse" and pleaded with officials in Washington to impose greater secrecy on the Honduran role in aiding the contras.

    The cables show that Mr. Negroponte worked closely with William J. Casey, then director of central intelligence, on the Reagan administration's anti-Communist offensive in Central America. He helped word a secret 1983 presidential "finding" authorizing support for the Contras, as the Nicaraguan rebels were known, and met regularly with Honduran military officials to win and retain their backing for the covert action.[6]

    Both papers based their stories on cables obtained by a Post FOIA request. George Washington University's National Security Archive writes of

    dozens of cables in which the Ambassador sought to undermine regional peace efforts such as the Contadora initiative that ultimately won Costa Rican president Oscar Arias a Nobel Prize, as well as multiple reports of meetings and conversations with Honduran military officers who were instrumental in providing logistical support and infrastructure for CIA covert operations in support of the contras against Nicaragua -"our special project" as Negroponte refers to the contra war in the cable traffic.[7] " —

  • Dear Editors

    The YDN should do a profile of Negroponte. Find what you may — there's only too much out there.

  • A Nonny Mouse

    Yale is indeed fortunate to have Mr. Negroponte, who is a very fine man.

    The facile accusations of torture, violation of human rights, war ciminality and other such things tossed out so freely by the left over the past eight years (especially by mainstream media organs such as those quoted in comments above) are already coming back to haunt the new administration. For example, nothing has attracted so much such palaver from the left as Guantanomo Bay, which has been accused by many of the same people who attack the Ambassador of being the site of all things evil … virtually a Hell on Earth. But, President Obama has now decided to keep Hell on Earth around for quite a while. As the Wall Street Journal notes []:

    "Campaign promises are so much easier to adhere to when they're strictly hypothetical, as Barack Obama is discovering. The then-President-elect said 10 days ago on ABC that while he still plans to close Guantanamo, 'it is more difficult than I think a lot of people realize' and that 'many' of the enemy combatants are 'very dangerous.'

    "Merely for gesturing at this reality, Mr. Obama suffered the blunt-force trauma of his left-wing allies, and the panicked transition leaked new details on the Administration's intentions last week. On Tuesday the Pentagon halted military commissions at Guantanamo for 120 days, and reports as we went to press yesterday said Mr. Obama would sign an executive order today that the base be closed within a year. This was after he told the Washington Post that closure might take even longer. Isn't responsibility fun?"

    Of course, the left is free to slander the Ambassador without releasing homicidal terrorists or giving up an effective and important stream of intelligence. But there nevertheless is a "responsibility check" even there: Are the people so eager to defame Mr. Negroponte going to be as vicious and eager to bring down Hillary Clinton once her State Department begins (or continues) to deal with the realities of an imperfect world? Or has the left really deluded itself into thinking that one need not balance costs and benefits in the area of diplomacy and international relations?

    The past thirty years or so of American history have been marked by the left repeatedly learning the hard way that actions taken in furtherance of cherished liberal pretentions are often hugely self destructive. For example, perhaps every left leaning American should spend one day a year meditating on how it came to pass that the once-sacred federal Independent Prosecutor law denatured the Clinton presidency and had to be put down as a kind of bi-partisan political mercy killing. Perhaps they should spend another day each year contemplating how the pre-1996 welfare system perpetuated African-American poverty for decades during which the left labored to deny exactly such an effect. There's so much more.

  • A. Nony Mouse

    President Obama’s National Intelligence Chief-nominee Dennis Blair just exhaled the weighty pronouncement that there would be no U.S. torture of criminals on his watch! But no worry … once more it's continuity-we-can-believe-in in place of the pretended change []:

    ”Blair refused to say whether he believes waterboarding — a form of simulated drowning — is torture.”

    Is Blair already a criminal in the eyes of those who scribed the diatribes against Negroponte that are quoted above in these comments for refusing to "admit" that waterboarding is torture? Is he "undermining" the great Obama drive against human rights abuses? Or will Mr. Blair have to spend at least one day on the job to incur true criminal stature?

    Just asking!

  • @ Mouse

    Do you really have no sense of justice or scale? Do you actually have no idead of the history you are talking about? Nicaraguans and Hondurans being tortured and maimed by the government we supported was doing nothing to protect our security. Likewise, to this day, torture and war crimes are not effective means of ensuring our continued safety. Rather they are the blunt instrument of a desperate imperial power, that cares more for retaining said power, that in protecting its democratic citizens.

    As for whether we will be as harsh on Sen. Clinton, if she were to repeat, say, the crimes of Kissinger and Negroponte? Of course. The Left in this country has been incredibly consistent in resisting and objecting to U.S. imperialism and compromises of its supposed moral highground. Sure, there a few partisans who might give her a pass, but those of us who have studied history, who have seen and learned of the U.S.'s actions towards Latin America and elsewhere for two centuries, we know that political party has rarely been the dividing line bewteen moral and effective diplomacy and imperialism.

  • A. Nonny Mouse

    Ah, so much, so quickly, so embarrassing to those in the camp of Ambassador Negroponte's critics! This just in []:

    "A Saudi man released from Guantanamo after spending nearly six years inside the U.S. prison camp is now the No. 2 of Yemen's al-Qaida branch, according to a purported Internet statement from the terror network. The announcement, made this week on a Web site commonly used by militants, came as President Barack Obama ordered the detention facility closed within a year. Many of the remaining detainees are from Yemen, which has long posed a vexing terrorism problem for the U.S."

  • A, Nonny Mouse

    "The Left in this country has been incredibly consistent in resisting and objecting to U.S. imperialism and compromises of its supposed moral highground."

    That's hilarious! During the Soviet era much of the Left in this country served as apologists for Soviet excesses, including persecution of its own people and rampant antisemitism. But the American Left was "incredibly consistent" because the Soviet gulag and expansionism wasn't "U.S. imperialism" … and the killers were Russians!

    Before the reform of South Africa, a near-total economic boycott of that country was mounted as necessary to undermine its then-illegitimate white government, and that those who violated the boycott were immoral "collaborators" with the ongoing illegitimacy. Cuba has a government at least as illegitimate and undemocratic as that of unreformed South Africa. But the American Left has always argued that the boycott of Cuba is just creating problems. You see, Castro's refusal to hold free elections for almost FIFTY YEARS, suppressing every important human right, and forcing about 20% of the population to flee the country, are just not expressions of "U.S. imperialism" … and the killers are CUBAN! I especially adore that wonderful argument so often served up steaming by the American Left that it's all OK because Fidel is better than Batista was! Would it be OK for even an elected president (and Castro has never been elected) of this or any country to cancel elections if he just points out that he was better than his predecessor?

    "Incredible consistency" of the Left!? Well, the "incredible" part is about right. A sense of SCALE!? Wheeeeeeee! This is more entertaining that a funhouse mirror!! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Down the American Left wing rabbit hole you go!

  • Recent Alum

    Summary of comments to this article:

    Oh no, a famous, accomplished alumnus who doesn't agree with the Left on every issue will be teaching at Yale! This is outrageous! We cannot allow dissent in our faculty!