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In Memoriam: Chuck Cogan, Longtime International Security Program Associate

| Jan. 03, 2018

Dr. Charles G. "Chuck" Cogan, an International Security Program (ISP) associate since 2006, died peacefully in his sleep on December 14, 2017 at his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His ninetieth birthday would have been in January 2018.

Chuck was a frequent participant over the years in ISP seminars and other Center events, contributing his insights and anecdotes from his long career as a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer and his subsequent career as a historian.

Professor Stephen Walt, ISP Faculty Chair, offers this remembrance, "Chuck Cogan was a wonderful colleague and a great asset for the International Security Program. He was a true patriot and distinguished public servant, as well as a genuine intellectual with a deep appreciation of other cultures. Most of all he was a man of great integrity, who did not trim his views to fit today’s fashions and always told you exactly what he thought. I will miss his sharp insights and warm good humor."

After graduating from Harvard College in 1949 with B.A. in History, Magna Cum Laude, Chuck worked as a journalist before serving as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Signal Corps during the Korean War. In 1954, he joined the CIA where he had overseas tours in Asia, Africa, and Europe; he was Chief of the Near East–South Asia Division in the Directorate of Operations from 1979–1984, and his last overseas posting was as in Paris from 1984–1989, where he was station chief. He was twice awarded the Intelligence Medal of Merit, in 1968 and 1981, and the Distinguished Intelligence Medal in 1989. In 1971, he received an M.S. in International Relations from George Washington University in conjunction with the National War College.

Chuck became a Senior Research Fellow with the Intelligence and Policy Program, a joint unclassified endeavor between the CIA and the John F. Kennedy School of Government. In addition to an executive education component for senior managers in the U.S. intelligence community, the Program developed case studies that focused on the intelligence-policy nexus. Six of these case studies were published in Dealing with Dictators: Dilemmas of U.S. Diplomacy and Intelligence Analysis, 1945–1990, a volume edited by Ernest R. May and Philip D. Zelikow, both of whom had been closely involved with the Intelligence and Policy Program. The book was published as part of the Belfer Center Studies in International Security by the MIT Press in 2006. Chuck, who had been posted to the Congo during the post-independence Congo Crisis, co-authored a case study with Ernest May, "The Congo, 1960–1963: Weighing Worst Choices," which became a chapter in Dealing with Dictators.

After retiring from the CIA in 1991, Chuck earned a Doctor of Public Administration degree from the Kennedy School. His doctoral dissertation was published as his first book, Oldest Allies, Guarded Friends: the United States and France Since 1940, (Praeger, 1994). He would publish seven more books, in English and French, in the subsequent years.

His academic writing, in both languages, also included many articles on intelligence issues, U.S.-French relations, and other subjects. He published commentary on a wide range of subjects in several outlets, most frequently as a contributor to the Huffington Post, with his last post appearing one week before his death. He had also served as a study group leader on Harvard Alumni Association tours to the Southern Mediterranean and the Italian Lake District, giving history presentations to the other travelers.

Among his many honors was that of Officer in the French Order of the Légion d’honneur, which he received in 2007 from the French government.

For more information on this publication: Please contact the Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Lynch, Susan. “In Memoriam: Chuck Cogan, Longtime International Security Program Associate.” News, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, January 3, 2018.

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