Robert Myers, Washingtonian co-founder, led council on ethics in world affairs

October 12, 2011

Robert J. Myers, a former CIA officer who helped found Washingtonian magazine, served as publisher of the New Republic and became president of an organization promoting ethics in international relations, died Sept. 18 at a senior residence in Palo Alto, Calif. He was 87.

The cause of death was complications from a stroke in early August, his daughter Holly Myers said.

Dr. Myers was an Asia specialist and began working in intelligence during World War II, when he was recruited from the Army by the Office of Strategic Services, the wartime precursor to the CIA. He was stationed in China and worked on a project to mobilize Koreans in the war against Japan.

He joined the CIA in 1949 and held assignments throughout Asia before becoming the station chief in Cambodia and deputy chief of the far east division in the early 1960s. He received the Intelligence Medal of Merit when he left the agency in 1965.

Later that year, Dr. Myers launched a career in journalism. With Laughlin Phillips , his former college roommate and CIA colleague, he founded Washingtonian magazine. In 1968 he became publisher of the New Republic, a position he held for more than a decade.

From 1980 until 1994, Dr. Myers was president of the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs in New York. He wrote and edited numerous books on international relations, including “International Ethics in the Nuclear Age” (1987), “U.S. Foreign Policy in the Twenty-First Century: The Relevance of Realism” (1999) and “Korea in the Cross Currents” (2001).

Dr. Myers also wrote fiction and political satire. He penned a play, “The Tragedie of King Richard, the Second” (1973), which compared the English monarch to President Richard M. Nixon. He also wrote gothic novels based on Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.”

Robert John Myers was born Jan. 1, 1924, in Elkhart, Ind., and attended DePauw University in Indiana before joining the Army. He earned a master’s degree in 1948 and a doctorate in 1959, both in international relations from the University of Chicago.

In 1995, he and his wife moved to California, where he was a fellow with the Hoover Institution think tank until 2007.

His wife of 45 years, Elizabeth Watson Myers, died in 1998. A son, Timothy Myers, died in 2003.

Survivors include two daughters, Holly Myers of Portola Valley, Calif., and Lauchlin Myers of Berkeley, Calif.; and seven grandchildren.

Emily Langer is a reporter on The Washington Post’s obituaries desk. She has written about national and world leaders, celebrated figures in science and the arts, and heroes from all walks of life.
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