Remembering Charles William Maynes
Photo courtesy the Eurasia Foundation As FOREIGN POLICYs longest-serving editor in chief, Charles William Bill Maynes guided readers through the collapse of communism and the rise of globalization. During the 1980s, Maynes, a Rhodes scholar and Russia hand, authored some of the most insightful and prescient essays on the United States Cold War rival. Later, ...
Photo courtesy the Eurasia Foundation
Photo courtesy the Eurasia Foundation
As FOREIGN POLICYs longest-serving editor in chief, Charles William Bill Maynes guided readers through the collapse of communism and the rise of globalization. During the 1980s, Maynes, a Rhodes scholar and Russia hand, authored some of the most insightful and prescient essays on the United States Cold War rival. Later, as president of the Eurasia Foundation, Bill would take a leading role in helping those same Soviet republics on the road to political and economic reform.
Bill died June 2 of cancer in his home in Chevy Chase, Maryland, at the age of 68.
The range of Bills knowledge and experience was legendary in Washington. He began his impressive career with nine years in the U.S. Foreign Service. From 1972 to 1977, he served as secretary of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, publisher of FOREIGN POLICY, where he developed the institutions distinguished Senior Fellows program. He returned to public service to manage U.S. relations with the United Nations as assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs from 1977 to 1980 in the Carter administration. Most recently, he was president emeritus at the Eurasia Foundation, where he was also president from 1997 to 2006.
But it is his 17 years at FOREIGN POLICY, from 1980 to 1997, that may best define his legacy. As Foreign Policys longest-serving editor, Bill was the foundation that made FPs future successes possible, said Moiss Nam, who succeeded him as editor in chief. He was lucid, forward-thinking, hugely influential, and never lacked the courage to speak out against what he saw as the increasingly ideological polarization of foreign-policy debate. Thanks to his knowledge and extraordinary editorial taste, FP readers were exposed to ideas and thinkers that greatly clarified the fluid political climate at the end of the Cold War and during the emergence of the new world economy in the early 1990s.
Bill wrote widely and was published often in the editorial pages of the worlds top newspapers. But some of his most prescient writing was for FOREIGN POLICY. In his first editorial piece for the magazine in 1980, he criticized the United States increasing reliance on its military to conduct foreign affairs, pointed out key areas of Soviet weakness, and warned of the great risks involved in occupying Third World states. The prevailing focus on the military balance betrays a crippling ignorance of the sources of American postwar power. Those sources were economic as well as military, he wrote in a piece coauthored with Richard Harlan Ullman, his predecessor at the magazine.
Bill exemplified a spirit of bipartisanship that is increasingly rare. When he left the magazine in 1997, he called on others to use their writing and analysis for goals broader than any single group or party. In todays Washington, ideas are no longer tools made available to everybody, he wrote. They are weapons crafted primarily for ones political allies.
Bill rejected partisan diatribes, Moiss Nam noted, not out of reflex, but explicitly to increase the quality of debate over complex policy questions and enrich the choices made by the U.S. government.
Upon learning of his passing, Jessica Mathews, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said, Bill Maynes was a sure and eloquent voice of wisdom in a changing world. And when he left for the Eurasia Foundation, he remained a valued colleague, trusted advisor, and friend.
During his seventeen years as editor, Bill Maynes established FOREIGN POLICY as the Endowments flagship publication, said Thomas L. Hughes, former president of the Carnegie Endowment, adding, While opening its pages to a variety of responsible viewpoints, he never wavered in his own commitment to liberal internationalism. The scope and tone of the magazine bore his unmistakable and unforgettable imprint. He was a living force for good.
Bills perseverance and strength of character were perhaps never on better display than when his health took a turn for the worse during the latter years of his tenure at FP. In 1991, at the age of 52, he nearly died of complications from surgery that were followed by a bout of Guillan-Barr syndrome, a rare neurological disorder. Although he was temporarily paralyzed, unable even to blink his eyes, he astounded colleagues by keeping abreast of world events via National Public Radio broadcasts. As he told The Washingtonian magazine in 1998, I hope death doesnt happen soon, but I cant get angry if it does. Ive already been to deaths door and back.
But Bill more than recovered. For nine years, he led the Eurasia Foundation, bringing his knowledge and experience to help foster positive change in a part of the world that he had studied, observed, and helped shape for decades. There his efforts to promote political reform and democracy brought him into increasing conflict with the creeping authoritarianism of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Bill is survived by his wife of 42 years, Gretchen S. Maynes; two children, Charles William Maynes III and Stacy K. Wade; two sisters; and two grandchildren.
In a career that spanned nearly four decades, Bill wrote hundreds of articles and essays. FOREIGN POLICY has gathered a few of the most memorable here.
Ten Years of Foreign Policy, FOREIGN POLICY, Fall 1980. With Richard Harlan Ullman
A Closing Word, FOREIGN POLICY, Spring 1997 A waning romance: This is not the time to abandon Russia, International Herald Tribune, February 4, 2004 Losing Russia: To prevent a ‘cold peace,’ the West must retreat from Cold War policies, Los Angeles Times, February 15, 2004 Fighting Dirty Won’t Work, Washington Post, August 31, 1998 Between Inertia and the 82nd Airborne; Preventive Diplomacy by a Stronger U.N. Could Save Ethnic Minorities, Washington Post, October 25, 1992
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and FOREIGN POLICY magazine will miss this friend and colleague who was critical in shaping what we are today.
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