Berger, Samuel R.
BERGER, SAMUEL R.
BERGER, SAMUEL R. (Sandy ; 1945– ), U.S. foreign affairs specialist. Born in Sharon, Conn., Sandy Berger, as he was usually known, became national security adviser to President Bill Clinton in his second term, serving from 1996 to 2001 as the senior White House aide on all international issues. Berger grew up in Millerton, n.y., a rural community in dairy country. He father died when he was eight and his mother ran a struggling surplus clothing store. The Bergers stood apart from the Millerton mainstream as Democrats in a very Republican county and as Jews in an upper-income Republican area. Berger took his religious training from a rabbi in a nearby hospital for the mentally retarded. "Where I grew up is very important to what I am," he said. "My perspectives are still more Millerton 1960 than Washington 2000. The small-town sense of community and social responsibility – that's the lasting imprint of Millerton on me."
At Cornell University, from which he graduated in 1967, he was active in student politics. He got a job as a student intern in Washington for Representative Joseph Resnick. At Harvard Law School, from which he graduated in 1971, he volunteered in the presidential campaigns of Eugene McCarthy and then for Robert F. Kennedy. Four years later, in the presidential campaign of George McGovern, he met Bill Clinton, and they became friends.
Berger joined one of Washington's premier law firms, Hogan & Hartson, where he represented Japanese and other clients and talked often with the firm's most eminent figure, former Senator J. William Fulbright. When Jimmy Carter was elected president, Berger served as deputy director of the Policy Planning Staff in the State Department, where he was involved in a wide variety of international economic, security, and foreign policy matters. During the 1980s Berger formed an alliance with Pamela Harriman, the Washington social doyenne, writing speeches for her and benefiting from her wealth and connections. When Clinton lost a re-election bid as governor of Arkansas, Berger persuaded Mrs. Harriman to put him on the board of her political action committee, which came to be a major fund-raising arm of the Democratic Party. When Clinton ran for president in 1992, Berger joined him as a senior foreign-policy adviser. After Clinton won, Berger persuaded him to send Mrs. Harriman to Paris as ambassador. Berger was offered the national security adviser's job butdemurred on the grounds of limited experience, suggesting Anthony Lake. Berger became Lake's deputy and replaced him after Clinton's first term.
Intimately involved with all aspects of Clinton foreign policy, Berger, considered the most influential foreign-policy adviser since Henry A. *Kissinger, was at the nexus of the Clinton strategy to end the war in Kosovo.
After leaving the White House, Berger served as chairman of Stonebridge International, a Washington-based strategy firm that he started to help build business relationships through Asia, Europe, and Latin America, and also had a senior position with *Lehman Brothers, the international investment firm.
[Stewart Kampel (2nd ed.)]