Ex-Sen. Fulbright Dies; Critic of Vietnam War

Article excerpt

Former Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, a foreign affairs specialist whose legislation led to the forming of the United Nations and a renowned scholarship program bearing his name, died Thursday. He was 89.

Mr. Fulbright suffered a stroke at his home in Washington. His health had been poor since a stroke in 1993, and he was hospitalized last month with pneumonia.

In 30 years in the U.S. Senate - 15 as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee - Mr. Fulbright became one of Washington's most powerful figures on international matters.

A Democrat, he broke party ranks with President Lyndon B. Johnson and emerged as one of the leading critics of the Vietnam War in the 1960s.tfp

President Bill Clinton, a fellow Arkansan, praised his former mentor Thursday.

"I'm just profoundly grateful today for the conviction that he imparted to me when I was a young man, that we could make peace in the world if we seek better understanding, if we promote the exchanges among people, if we advance the cause of global education," Clinton said at the White House.

As a freshman senator, Sen. Fulbright proposed using funds from the sale of surplus property overseas to pay for foreign exchange programs for researchers and students. The legislation, which he frequently said he was most proud of, was designed to "increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries."

The Fulbright scholarship program has sent about 200,000 students on overseas study.

"These people are of greater significance to our future than is another aircraft carrier that costs three times as much as this exchange program has cost in 40 years," he wrote in 1985.

One of the young people with whom he worked directly was Clinton, who worked as an intern at the Foreign Relations Committee while Sen. Fulbright was chairman.

In 1993, as president, Clinton awarded Mr. Fulbright the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

Mr. Fulbright came to the Senate in 1945 and, during his first term, caused a furor by suggesting that President Harry S Truman resign. He cast the lone vote opposing funding for Sen. Joseph McCarthy's investigatory committee. McCarthy, R-Wis., then branded Sen. Fulbright a communist sympathizer.

During the Vietnam War in the 1960s, he led questioning during televised congressional hearings that caused his rupture with Johnson. …