Kaiser, Philip M. 1913-2007

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Kaiser, Philip M. 1913-2007


See index for CA sketch: Born July 12, 1913, in New York, NY; died of aspiration pneumonia, May 24, 2007, in Washington, DC. Diplomat, bureaucrat, and author. Kaiser was a former foreign ambassador who also served in several other federal departments from the 1940s through the early 1980s. A 1935 graduate of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, he attended Balliol College, Oxford, as a Rhodes Scholar. He married while in England and left the country in 1939 just before the onset of World War II. Back in America, Kaiser was an economist for the Federal Reserve. During the war he was chief of project operations staff for the Board of Economic Warfare and then chief of planning staff for the Foreign Economic Administration. After the war Kaiser worked for the U.S. Department of Labor and served on committees organizing the Marshall Plan and aid to Greece and Turkey. He was named secretary of international affairs in 1949, and during the Truman administration worked to promote trade unions in Japan and Western Europe. In the 1950s, Kaiser became associated with New York Governor Averell Harriman. Even after Harriman lost the election in 1958, Kaiser remained a close friend until Harriman's death in 1986. Meanwhile, he taught international relations at American University before being selected as U.S. ambassador to Senegal and Mauritania in 1961. One of his most important achievements at the time was to persuade the president of Senegal to not allow the Soviets to use Dakar as an airplane refueling stop during the Cuban missile crisis. Next, from 1964 to 1969, Kaiser was minister and deputy chief of mission at the embassy in London. He left this post after Richard Nixon was elected, but he remained in London to be chair and managing director of the Encyclopaedia Britannica International for the next six years. A two-year period as director of Guinness Mahon Holdings in London was followed by his return to political involvement in 1976 as chair of the committee on foreign relations for Democrats Abroad. President James Carter named Kaiser ambassador to Hungary in 1977, and the diplomat helped ease tensions between the countries that led to the United States returning one of Hungary's greatest national treasures, the Crown of St. Stephen. This artifact, given to King Stephen I by the pope in 1001, had been given to the Americans for safe keeping during Word War II. Kaiser's last ambassadorship was in Austria, an assignment that ended abruptly when Ronald Reagan won the presidency. Returning to the United States to teach at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Kaiser then worked as a senior consultant for SRI International from 1983 until his 1997 retirement. He recalled his life in government in his 1993 memoir, Journeying Far and Wide: A Political and Diplomatic Memoir.



Kaiser, Philip M., Journeying Far and Wide: A Political and Diplomatic Memoir, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1993.


Chicago Tribune, May 26, 2007, Section 2, p. 11.

Los Angeles Times, May 26, 2007, p. B11.

New York Times, May 25, 2007, p. C20; May 26, 2007, p. A2.

Times (London, England), June 6, 2007, p. 72.

Washington Post, May 25, 2007, p. B7.