Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

In Memoriam: Nicholas Gilman Thacher (1915-2002)

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

In Memoriam: Nicholas Gilman Thacher (1915-2002)

Article excerpt

Andrew I. Killgore, a retired career foreign service officer and former U.S. ambassador to Qatar, is publisher of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.

Nicholas Gilman Thacher, a foreign service officer from 1947 to 1973, when he retired after three years as American ambassador to Saudi Arabia, died on March 11 in San Francisco. Few diplomats over the past several decades have enjoyed as much respect and affection in the diplomatic/State Department worlds as Nick Thacher and his wife, Beenie (Jean-Louise Naffziger).

A native of Kansas City, Missouri, Nick Thacher graduated from New Jersey's prestigious Lawrenceville School, from Princeton University, and from Fordham University School of Law in New York. In World War II he served as an officer on the USS Pensacola, a cruiser that was heavily damaged in battle.

During his diplomatic career Nick served in Karachi, Calcutta, twice in Jeddah, and in Tehran, where for five years he was D.C.M.--State Departmentalese for Deputy Chief of Mission, or deputy ambassador--all within the Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (NEA). From 1959 to 1962 he was deputy director or acting director of the State Department's politically sensitive Office of Near Eastern Affairs (NE).

NEA was troubled then, as it is today, by the dispute over Kashmir between India and Pakistan which has triggered three wars between them. Nick knew from previous assignments in both countries the passions stirred by that divided area. Happily for him, however, those regional passions generally caused few serious problems in Washington.

The other regional issue, however--the Arab-Israeli dispute--roiled not only NE on a continuing basis, but Congress, the national media and a White House acutely sensitive to the power of the Israel lobby, frequently called simply the Lobby in Washington, in testimony to its legendary clout. …

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