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William Odom

Lieutenant General William E. Odom, U.S. Army (Ret.), a frequent contributor to NiemanWatchdog, died May 30, 2008, apparently of a heart attack. Odom in recent years had been an aggressive critic of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and was one of the first to call for removing American troops from Iraq. For many years a highly popular professor at Yale, he had been director of the National Security Agency (NSA) under President Reagan from 1985 to 1988. Starting in February 2008 Odom was a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Previously had been a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute

As NSA Director, Odom was responsible for the nation's signals intelligence and communications security. From 1981 to 1985, he served as Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, the Army's senior intelligence officer.

From 1977 to 1981, General Odom was Military Assistant to the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs, Zbigniew Brzezinski. As a member of the National Security Council staff, he worked upon strategic planning, Soviet affairs, nuclear weapons policy, telecommunications policy, and Persian Gulf security issues.  He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1954, and received a Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1970.

General Odom’s latest book, America’s Inadvertent Empire, co-authored with Robert Dujarric, was published in early 2004 by Yale University Press. His previous book, Fixing Intelligence For a More Secure America, was published in January 2003 (Yale University Press). His book, The Collapse of the Soviet Military (Yale University Press, 1998), won the Marshall Shulman Prize. General Odom has also written America's Military Revolution: Strategy and Structure After the Cold War (American University Press, 1993); Trial After Triumph: East Asia After the Cold War (Hudson Institute, 1992); On Internal War: American and Soviet Approaches to Third World Clients and Insurgents (Duke University Press, 1992); and The Soviet Volunteers (Princeton University Press, 1973). He coauthored Commonwealth or Empire? Russia, Central Asia, and the Transcaucasus with Robert Dujarric (Hudson Institute, 1995).

General Odom published articles in Foreign Affairs, World Politics, Foreign Policy, Orbis, Problems of Communism, The National Interest, The Washington Quarterly, Military Review, and many other publications. A frequent radio and television commentator, he appeared on programs such as "The PBS News Hour," CNN, ABC's "Nightline", NBC News, C-Span, and BBC's "The World Tonight." He also was a periodic contributor to the op-ed pages of The NewYork Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and others.



The surge is prolonging instability, not creating the conditions for success
COMMENTARY | April 02, 2008
Gen. William Odom suggests that Congress ask the Bush administration to name a single historical case where power has been aggregated successfully from local strongmen to a central government except through bloody violence leading to a single winner. He once again calls rapid withdrawal from Iraq the only effective and moral choice.

The war and the recession: a connection?
ASK THIS | February 14, 2008
The economy has supplanted the war at the top of the national agenda – but only because of two mistaken perceptions, writes Gen. William Odom. Contrary to popular belief, the surge isn’t working; it’s just postponing the inevitable. And that looming recession? A trillion-plus dollars squandered in war spending may have something to do with it.

Questions for Congress, for Bush and for Petraeus
ASK THIS | September 06, 2007
General William Odom, a longtime advocate of pulling American troops out of Iraq, sees legislators as irresponsible and bamboozled by Bush. He calls the new twists in Bush’s war policies muddled, contradictory, ludicrous and tragic.

'Supporting the troops' means withdrawing them
COMMENTARY | July 05, 2007
Gen. William Odom writes that opponents of the war should focus public attention on the fact that Bush’s obstinate refusal to admit defeat is causing the troops enormous psychological as well as physical harm.

The path out of Iraq starts with Iran
COMMENTARY | June 26, 2007
Restoring cooperation between Washington and Tehran is the single most important step that could be taken to rescue the US from its predicament in Iraq, writes Gen. William Odom.

'The Commander-in-Chief seems to have gone AWOL'
COMMENTARY | April 28, 2007
Retired Gen. William Odom, who ran the National Security Agency under President Reagan, was an unusual choice to deliver the weekly Democratic radio adddress. His message: No effective new strategy can be devised for the United States until it begins withdrawing its forces from Iraq.

Six brutal truths about Iraq
COMMENTARY | December 11, 2006
General William Odom, one of the earliest advocates of an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, attacks some of the mythologies that are interfering with an honest debate about how to proceed in the Middle East and says the media have failed to recognize dramatic changes in the region.

Does our safety diminish as our laws increase?
COMMENTARY | October 09, 2006
"It is high time," writes Gen. William E. Odom, "that leaders in Congress, opinion makers, candidates for public office nationwide and the press unmask the so-called 'Global War on Terrorism' for what it is: a slogan and a campaign that make al Qaeda and other such organizations far more effective than they would be if publicly ignored and quietly attacked by methods entirely within the limits of our constitutional rights."

A reverse domino theory may be playing out in the Middle East
COMMENTARY | July 17, 2006
Gen. William Odom says Vice President Cheney has it all wrong when he warns that the U.S. must stay in Iraq because failure there could prompt collapse elsewhere. In fact, now it looks like a new Arab-Israeli war could be breaking out precisely because our actions in Iraq have emboldened Iran and Syria.

Iraq through the prism of Vietnam
COMMENTARY | March 08, 2006
Those who say Iraq is nothing like Vietnam have another guess coming, says retired Gen. William Odom. He lists striking similarities and asserts that only after it pulls out of Iraq can the U.S. hope for international support to deal with anti-Western forces.

Odom: Want stability in the Middle East? Get out of Iraq!
COMMENTARY | November 11, 2005
In his last piece for NiemanWatchdog.org, retired Gen. William Odom argued that all the terrible things the Bush administration says would happen if we pulled our troops out of Iraq are happening already. In a new postscript, Odom writes that the converse is true as well: Bush says he wants to bring democracy and stability to the greater Middle East -- but in fact the only way to achieve that goal is to get out of Iraq now.

What’s wrong with cutting and running?
ASK THIS | August 03, 2005
Everything that opponents of a pullout say would happen if the U.S. left Iraq is happening already, says retired Gen. William E. Odom, the head of the National Security Agency during the Reagan administration. So why stay?

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