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  Schlesinger, James R.
NameJames R. Schlesinger
, Virginia , United States
Born February 15, 1929
DiedMarch 27, 2014 (85 years)
ContributorUser 490
Last ModifedJuan Croniqueur
Nov 21, 2022 06:01pm
Tags Jewish - CIA - Lutheran -
InfoJames Rodney Schlesinger (born 15 February 1929) was United States Secretary of Defense from 1973 to 1974 under presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Ford dismissed Schlesinger for his "aloof, frequently arrogant manner."

While Secretary of Defense, he opposed amnesty for draft dodgers, and pressed for development of more sophisticated nuclear weapon systems. Additionally, his support for the A-10 and the lightweight fighter program (later the F-16) helped ensure that they were carried to completion.

Early Life and Career

Schlesinger was born in New York City and educated at Harvard University, where he earned a B.A. (1950), M.A. (1952), and Ph.D. (1956) in economics. Between 1955 and 1963 he taught economics at the University of Virginia and in 1960 published The Political Economy of National Security. In 1963 he moved to the Rand Corporation, where he worked until 1969, in the later years as director of strategic studies.

In 1969 Schlesinger joined the Nixon administration as assistant director of the Bureau of the Budget, devoting most of his time to Defense matters. In 1971 President Nixon appointed Schlesinger a member of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and designated him as chairman. Serving in this position for about a year and a half, Schlesinger instituted extensive organizational and management changes in an effort to improve the AEC's regulatory performance.

On February 2, 1973 he became director of the Central Intelligence Agency--Richard Helms, the last director, had been fired for his refusal to block the Watergate investigation. Schlesinger's first words upon becoming DCI were, reportedly, "I'm here to make sure you don't screw Richard Nixon." Although his CIA service was short, he again undertook comprehensive organizational and personnel changes. By this time he had a reputation as a tough, forthright, and outspoken administrator.

Schlesinger left the CIA to become secretary of defense on 2 July at age 44. Despite his relative youth, given his academic and government credentials he appeared exceptionally well-qualified for the post. As a university professor, researcher at Rand, and government official in three agencies, he had acquired an impressive background in national security affairs.Schlesinger's insistence on higher defense budgets, his disagreements within the administration and with Congress on this issue, and his differences with Secretary of State Kissinger all contributed to his dismissal from office by President Ford in November 1975. Kissinger strongly supported the SALT process, while Schlesinger wanted assurances that arms control agreements would not put the United States in a strategic position inferior to the Soviet Union. The secretary's harsh criticism of some congressional leaders dismayed President Ford, who was more willing than Schlesinger to compromise on the Defense budget. On 2 November 1975 the president dismissed Schlesinger and made other important personnel changes. Kissinger lost his position as special assistant to the president for national security affairs but remained as secretary of state. Schlesinger left office on 19 November 1975, explaining his departure in terms of his budgetary differences with the White House.

In spite of the controversy surrounding both his tenure and dismissal, Schlesinger was by most accounts an able secretary of defense. A serious and perceptive thinker on nuclear strategy, he was determined that the United States not fall seriously behind the Soviet Union in conventional and nuclear forces and devoted himself to modernization of defense policies and programs. He got along well with the military leadership because he proposed to give them more resources, consulted with them regularly, and shared many of their views. Because he could be blunt in his opinions and did not enjoy the personal rapport with legislators that Laird had, his relations with Congress were often strained. A majority of its members may have approved Schlesinger's strategic plans, but they kept a tight rein on the money for his programs. As for the Pentagon bureaucracy, Schlesinger generally left its management to Deputy Secretary of Defense William P. Clements.

After leaving the Pentagon, Schlesinger wrote and spoke forcefully about national security issues, especially the Soviet threat and the need for the United States to maintain adequate defenses. When Jimmy Carter became president in January 1977 he appointed Schlesinger, a Republican, as his special adviser on energy and subsequently as the first Secretary of Energy in October 1977. Schlesinger held this position until July 1979 when Carter replaced him. Thereafter he resumed his writing and speaking career and was employed as a senior adviser to Lehman Brothers, Kuhn Loeb Inc., of New York City.

On 11 June 2002 he was appointed by U.S. President George W. Bush to the Homeland Security Advisory Council. He also serves as a consultant to the United States Department of Defense, and is a member of the Defense Policy Board.



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Importance? 0.00000 Average


  08/05/1977 US Secretary of Energy Won 100.00% (+100.00%)
  07/02/1973 Secretary of Defense Won 100.00% (+100.00%)
  01/23/1973 CIA Director Won 100.00% (+100.00%)
  08/17/1971 Atomic Energy Commission Chair Won 100.00% (+100.00%)