Strobe Talbott

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Nelson Strobridge "Strobe" Talbott III
12th United States Deputy Secretary of State
In office
February 23, 1994 – January 19, 2001
President Bill Clinton
Preceded by Clifton R. Wharton, Jr.
Succeeded by Richard Armitage
Personal details
Born (1946-04-25) April 25, 1946 (age 73)
Dayton, Ohio
Political party Democratic
Profession Journalist, translator, diplomat

Nelson Strobridge "Strobe" Talbott III (born April 25, 1946) is an American foreign policy analyst associated with Yale University and the Brookings Institution, a former journalist associated with Time magazine and diplomat who served as the Deputy Secretary of State from 1994 to 2001.

Early life

Born in Dayton, Ohio, to Jo and Nelson Strobridge "Bud" Talbott II, Talbott attended the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut and graduated from Yale University in 1968, where he was chairman of the Yale Daily News, a position whose previous incumbents include Henry Luce, William F. Buckley, and Joe Lieberman. He was also a member of the Scholar of the House program in 1967–68, and belonged to a society of juniors and seniors called Saint Anthony Hall. He became friends with former President Bill Clinton when both were Rhodes Scholars at the University of Oxford;[1] during his studies there he translated Nikita Khrushchev's memoirs into English.[1]


In 1972 Strobe Talbott, along with his friends Robert Reich (a fellow Rhodes Scholar) and 2nd Lt. David E. Kendall, rallied to his friends Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton to help them in their Texas campaign to elect George McGovern president of the United States. Through the 1980s he was Time magazine's principal correspondent on Soviet-American relations, and his work for the magazine was cited in the three Overseas Press Club Awards won by Time in the 1980s.[2] Talbott also wrote several books on disarmament.

Following Bill Clinton's election as President, Talbott was invited into government where he served at first managing the consequences of the Soviet breakup as Ambassador-at-Large and Special Adviser to the Secretary of State Warren Christopher on the New Independent States. After leaving government, he was for a period Director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization.[3] He is currently the president of the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.[4]

At Brookings he is responsible for formulating and setting policies, recommending projects, approving publications and selecting staff. He brings to Brookings the experience of his careers spanning journalism, government service and academe, and his expertise in U.S. foreign policy[5] with specialties on Europe, Russia,[6] South Asia and nuclear arms control.[7] Talbott currently sits on DC non-profit America Abroad Media's advisory board.[8]

Criticism and controversies

Talbott with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev whilst the latter was on a visit to the United States in April 2010.

The former Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) operative Sergei Tretyakov claimed that SVR considered Talbott a source of intelligence information and classified him as "a special unofficial contact", although "he was not a Russian spy".[9] These unproven allegations center on Talbott's relationship with Russian ambassador Georgiy Mamedov, who called the allegations "blatant lies".[9] Talbott himself has similarly rejected the accusations, calling them "erroneous and/or misleading in several fundamental aspects...[T]here was never a presumption that what we (he and Mamedov) said to each other in our one-to-one sessions would remain private".[10] Furthermore, Talbott has noted that his meetings with Mamedov advanced U.S. objectives, such as getting Russia to accept NATO enlargement and help end the Kosovo conflict.[9]


He married Brooke Shearer in 1971. Talbott was the roommate of her brother, Derek.[11] Brooke, who was Talbott's wife of 38 years, died on May 19, 2009.[12]

Partial bibliography


"In the next century, nations as we know it will be obsolete; all states will recognize a single, global authority. National sovereignty wasn't such a great idea after all." –in Time magazine, America Abroad: The Birth of the Global Nation, Monday, July 20, 1992[14]

“The Russians have provided an opening for renewed diplomacy. Since last summer, President Dmitry Medvedev has been calling for a 'new Euro-Atlantic security architecture'. So far, except for rehashing old complaints and the unacceptable claim that other former Soviet republics fall within Russia’s 'sphere of privileged interests', Mr Medvedev and Mr Lavrov have been vague about what they have in mind.

"That creates a vacuum that the United States and its European partners can fill with their own proposals. The theme of those should be accelerating the emergence of an international system (of which NATO is a part) that is prepared to include Russia rather than exclude or contain it, and to encourage positive forces in Russia that want to see their nation integrated in a globalized world organized around the search for common solutions to common problems.” –Strobe Talbott[15]

Honor and awards

Talbott is an Honorary Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar.[16]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Cornwell, Rupert (8 January 1994). "Strobe lights up the world stage for his friend Bill..." London: The Independent. Retrieved 9 September 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Yale Lecture Series: Putin's Path: Russian Foreign Policy Since 9/11". Retrieved 9 September 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Talbott to leave for Washington". Yale Daily News. 25 January 2002. Retrieved 9 September 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Spiegel interview with Strobe Talbott..." Der Spiegel. 16 December 2008. Retrieved 9 September 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Schmitt, Eric (24 September 1999). "State Dept. Expert Upbeat About Russian Fund Case". New York Times. Retrieved 9 September 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Strobe Talbott: "Not clear what Russia is going to do next"". Georgian Times. 26 August 2008. Retrieved 9 September 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Pete Earley Comrade J, Putnam Adult, January 24, 2008
  10. Stein, Jeff (2008-01-19). "Top U.N. Nuclear Watchdog a Russian Spy, Defector Says in New Book". Congressional Quarterly. Archived from the original on 2008-01-20. Retrieved 2008-01-31.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Brooke Shearer dies at 58; former journalist, personal aide to Hillary Clinton." Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on August 6, 2014.
  15. Financial Times, February 23, 2009

External links and further reading

Political offices
Preceded by
Clifton R. Wharton Jr.
United States Deputy Secretary of State
1994 – 2001
Succeeded by
Richard Armitage
Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
Michael Armacost
President of the Brookings Institution
2002 – present
Succeeded by