June 8, 1994

Eric A. Nordlinger; Foreign Affairs Expert, 54

Eric A. Nordlinger, a foreign affairs expert and university professor at Brown, Harvard and Brandeis, died on Friday at his home in Cambridge, Mass. He was 54.
He died of pancreatic cancer, said his wife, Carol.
Dr. Nordlinger was a professor of political science and an associate at the Center for Foreign Policy Studies at Brown University, where he had been a faculty member since 1972.
Besides his wife, Dr. Nordlinger is survived by a son, Oliver, also of Cambridge; a daughter, Alexandra, of San Francisco, and his mother, Kate Nordlinger of Manhattan.
Published in the New York Times


Eric Nordlinger, who taught at Brown until his premature death last year, was an isolationist with a difference. Like the old isolationists, he believed that the interventions and commitments the United States undertook in this century made it more insecure, led to complicity with evil regimes, and deformed liberal ideals at home. He departed from the isolationist tradition, however, in wanting to promote human rights and democracy through economic sanctions and believed that the free hand restored by shedding alliances would allow the United States to pursue liberal activism more effectively. The desire to promote "international security, human rights, and democracy," paired with the conviction that this will never--well, hardly ever--require force; the abstract commitment to multilateralism, joined with a profound distrust of particular allies; the belief that world leadership falls effortlessly to those who occupy the moral high ground--all these attitudes marked the author, most strangely and paradoxically, as a Wilsonian, with all the attendant deficiencies. But you can say this much for Mr. Nordlinger: he loved an argument and would pursue its logic to the ends of the earth, even when it imperiled his own position. This fearless iconoclasm and dogged analytical rigor commanded admiration.  His voice will be missed.

From Foreign Affairs Magazine, November-December 1995