A memory of Jeremy

By January 6, 2017

Jeremy Stone: If there has been a more vivid, more animated presence on the planet I have not encountered him or her. We met in our twenties when Jeremy sought me out at the RAND Corporation to argue the case for a “bomber bonfire” — his favored proposal at the time for reducing the massive nuclear forces that threatened calamity. Our acquaintance turned to lifelong kinship when we came together at the Harvard Center for International Affairs in 1965. Thereafter, for more than half a century our personal and professional lives were intertwined.

Jeremy and his beloved BJ became godparents of our son and older daughter. That was not a pro forma commitment for them; the stimulus and guidance they offered our children were precious beyond words.

The ebb and flow of our careers brought us together time and again on great issues — the anti-ballistic missile debates, war powers, nuclear testing, encouraging contact between American and Soviet leaders to relieve the dangerous hostilities afflicting their relationship, and many other policy problems. Our political views were not identical but they were usually compatible. We took turns playing big brother, one to the other. He was the spark plug on many fronts, sometimes impulsive, while I usually played the slower, take-a-second-look role on contentious questions. On Vietnam, for example, Jeremy (together with Morton Halperin in our Harvard Circle) recognized and called the disaster well before I did.

When I was serving as staff director for Senator Edward Brooke, Jeremy brought me into the study group on the book he was writing as a fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations. It was his recommendation that led to my appointments at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Council, my professional home ever since.

In some controversies Jeremy had my back, in others I had his. When I worked with Senator Brooke to urge action to head off MIRV deployment, some members of the anti-ABM coalition suspected that our effort was a ploy to undercut the ABM opposition. Nothing was further from the truth and Jeremy made that case in our behalf. In fact the Brooke resolution that belatedly passed the Senate by a vote of 72 to 6 called not only for a mutual pause in MIRV programs but for suspending deployment of strategic offensive and defensive weapons — the core idea of what would become the nuclear freeze initiative a decade later. Similarly, when I collaborated with Senator Bill Cohen, along with Sam Nunn, Charles Percy, Les Aspin and  Al Gore, among others, to advance the strategic build-down concept, Jeremy defended me against charges that our attempt to move the Reagan administration to a reasonable negotiating posture made us spoilers in the freeze campaign.

For my part, I cannot number the times I found myself rebutting those who portrayed Jeremy as a leftist ideologue, the son of the radical I. F. Stone, a mere gadfly. Nothing gratified me more than the growing acknowledgment by a wide circle within the policy community that Jeremy was the remarkable, serious, creative force that I knew him to be.  Even so tough a skeptic as Paul Nitze developed regard for him and they found surprising ranges of common ground. It was also my good fortune to enjoy a friendship with Jeremy’s father late in his life and to share Jeremy’s deep satisfaction that Izzy’s record of conscientious, fastidious journalism earned him a unique place in media culture. After Jeremy restored Izzy’s 1970 Ford Mustang, he passed it along to me for a nominal sum. No air-conditioning and a very loose suspension, but the most stylish car I have ever owned.

Jeremy was a polymath. His boundless curiosity and gift for digging deeply into complicated subjects marked him as his father’s son, but his engagement in public policy was more direct and intimate than Izzy’s service as a skeptical observer. For example, Jeremy actively promoted contacts between members of Congress and Soviet leaders. His efforts in that regard facilitated the first visit of William Cohen and Joseph Biden to the Soviet union, on which William Miller and I accompanied them. Our purpose was to brief Soviet leaders on the strategic build-down concept. Jeremy’s wide acquaintance among Soviet scientists and other leaders added notably to the sessions in Moscow.

I was not a member of the Federation of American Scientists. Jeremy and I implicitly agreed that our independent and separate roles in different organizations strengthened the possibilities for collaboration on major policy matters. At his invitation, however, I frequently chaired FAS-sponsored hearings on Capitol Hill. They were memorable events bringing together witnesses of varying perspectives on key topics, e.g. how Congress should exercise its war powers regarding the first Bush administration’s decision to repel Iraqi aggression.

On some occasions we worked on parallel tracks rather than together. His original analyses on the idea of eliminating long-range ballistic missiles — the notion of zero ballistic missiles or ZBM — inspired my own work on that concept. Jeremy’s establishment of Catalytic Diplomacy gave me another chance as a board member to cooperate on initiatives that blended subtlety with boldness. He was a marvel at identifying points of constructive intervention in festering conflicts, whether in cross-strait relations between China and Taiwan, or in the terrorist activities of the Shining Path movement in Peru, or in the obstructed Iranian-American stand-off.

He was a political Archimedes, forever finding new rocks on which to leverage movement toward a safer, more peaceful world.

Paul Warnke once said that he began by thinking Jeremy was too good to be true but he had concluded that in fact Jeremy was too true to be good. That turn of phrase captured something of Jeremy’s determination to find insights beyond the facts and expose them forthrightly. Those insights, recorded in his books and shorter writings, remain worth reading.

An old Latin maxim applies to Jeremy Stone: esse quame videri — “to be rather than to seem.” He was genuine, a missionary in his own way, a brilliant exemplar of high intelligence devoted to public service.

Categories: FAS, In Memoriam