Obituaries

GWU Economics Professor James R. Millar

James R. Millar had worked as a consultant for the CIA since 2000.
James R. Millar had worked as a consultant for the CIA since 2000. (Menachem Wecker - Menachem Wecker)
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Thursday, December 4, 2008

James R. Millar, 72, an emeritus professor of economics and international affairs at George Washington University and an authority on centrally planned economies of the Soviet Union and post-Soviet Russia, died Nov. 30 at his home in Washington. He had pancreatic cancer.

Dr. Millar was a former academic in residence at the CIA and had been a CIA consultant since 2000.

He testified before Congress and led an influential panel created by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to review the CIA's estimates of Soviet economic growth and defense expenditures from 1970 to 1991.

That panel, he told the New York Times, concluded that CIA and other independent estimates of Soviet defense expenditures could have been improved with input from knowledgeable scholars and agencies such as the International Monetary Fund. He said the findings prompted the CIA to change its approach.

Dr. Millar was an economics professor at the University of Illinois before joining the GWU faculty in 1989. He spent several years as associate dean of the university's Elliott School of International Affairs and was director of its institute for European, Russian and Eurasian studies. He retired in 2004.

James Robert Millar was born in San Antonio. He graduated in 1958 from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

He received a doctorate in economics from Cornell University in 1965 and then spent a year as an exchange student at Moscow State University. An invitation to Harvard University's Russian studies department in the early 1960s led to his interest in the Soviet economy.

His books included "The Social Legacy of Communism" (1994), edited with Sharon L. Wolchik; "The Soviet Economic Experiment" (1990); and "The ABCs of Soviet Socialism" (1981). He was also editor in chief of the "Encyclopedia of Russian History" (2003).

Dr. Millar wrote or contributed to nearly 100 scholarly articles and book chapters and was the editor of the publication Slavic Review from 1975 to 1980. He was an officer of several professional organizations, including president of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies. In 2006, he received the Slavic studies group's highest award.

A son, Leo Millar, died in 1988.

Survivors include his wife of 43 years, Hete Ascher "Gera" Millar of Washington; a daughter, Mira Brownfield of San Francisco; a sister; and three grandchildren.

-- Adam Bernstein


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