Arnold L. Kanter, 65

Arnold L. Kanter, 65, national security specialist dies

At the State Department in the 1990s, Dr. Kanter ran the daily operations of U.S. foreign policy.
At the State Department in the 1990s, Dr. Kanter ran the daily operations of U.S. foreign policy. (Family Picture)
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By Adam Bernstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Arnold L. Kanter, 65, a national security and arms control specialist who became a top State Department official and adviser to the defense and intelligence communities, died April 10 at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. The cause was acute myeloid leukemia.

Since 1994, Dr. Kanter had been affiliated with the Scowcroft Group, an international investment advisory firm, where he helped companies seeking business opportunities in China and Russia.

The consultancy was started by former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft, for whom Dr. Kanter had served from 1989 to 1991 as chief arms control specialist on the National Security Council. Dr. Kanter was undersecretary of state for political affairs, the State Department's third-ranking job, from 1991 to 1993 and had responsibility for running the daily operations of U.S. foreign policy.

Scowcroft said Dr. Kanter's greatest talent was transforming grand-scale policy ideas into concepts that a bureaucracy could implement. Over the years, Dr. Kanter was a major participant in shaping the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty and other arms negotiations involving Russia and North Korea.

Dr. Kanter spent his early career as a political scientist and worked for the State Department on and off, initially in politico-military affairs. In the early 1980s, he worked on arms issues and European policies as an aide to Lawrence Eagleburger, then-undersecretary for political affairs. Before joining the National Security Council, Dr. Kanter directed the national security strategies program at the Rand Corp., a Santa Monica, Calif.-based think tank that often advised the government.

In a statement, CIA Director Leon Panetta called Dr. Kanter "one of America's brightest minds on intelligence and foreign policy."

Arnold Lee Kanter was born Feb. 27, 1945, in Chicago. He was a 1966 political science graduate of the University of Michigan, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. At Yale University, he received a master's degree (1968) and a doctorate (1975) in political science.

His dissertation was published as "Defense Politics: A Budgetary Perspective" (1979). He edited and contributed to other books on foreign policy and Cold War politics, and wrote for political science journals. His memberships included the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission and the Atlantic Council of the United States.

Survivors include his wife of 40 years, Anne Strassman Kanter of McLean; two children, Clare Kanter of New York City and Noah Kanter of Washington; and a brother. A son, Benjamin, died in infancy in 1973.

Dr. Kanter taught political science and public policy at Ohio State University and the University of Michigan before joining the State Department in 1977.

Long after he left academia, Dr. Kanter remained a "rumpled professorial figure" who usually grumbled good-naturedly when someone told him to wear a tie at a meeting, Scowcroft said.

Anne Kanter joked that it was difficult enough to get him to wear pants, much less a tie.

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