Saturday, April 05, 2008

David D. Newsom, Dead at 90

Ambassador Newsom was a kind gentleman. I can recall the first time I entered his office while I was Political Officer in the United Nations Office in the International Organizations Bureau in the State Dept. I needed to get his assent on a Decision Memorandum, as I recall, and as he read the memo which concerned the Middle East, he actually asked me what my opinion was of another matter! As an FSO accustomed to the apodictic dwarf Kissinger's autocratic arrogance [Henry the K REFUSED TO SHAKE MY HAND in Jeddah when I was his personal escort during a SecState visit], I found Newsom's quiet professionalism completely charming and thoughtful.

I also recall as a duty officer one weekend having to visit his home in Georgetown on some emergency matter and being entertained by his charming wife as I waited for him to return from an errand. She was as thoughtful and considerate as he was.

Also, Rocky Suddarth mentioned in the NYT article was instrumental in helping me get extra Arabic training after I met him and his kids by chance in The Jordanian National Museum in Amman. Rocky was also the epitome of a professional FSO.

Just by chance, I recently saw Jock Covey's name in an article on the United Nations, where he now is employed in a senior capacity. Amb. Newsom's quote in the NYT obit is noteworthy:
In a 2002 appearance at the University of California, he was asked what advice he would give young people.

“Set aside some time to read about and understand the world beyond our shores,” he replied in part. “We are an insular people, and we have a tendency to dismiss foreign societies as strange and difficult to comprehend.”

Better advice was never given.

No comments :