Monday, July 12, 2004

Constantine C. Menges, a national security and intelligence official during the Reagan administration and advocate of global democracy, died Sunday. He was 64.

Mr. Menges was a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute since 2000 and a contributing columnist to The Washington Times for many years. His death was caused by complications related to cancer, said his assistant, Chris Brown.

“He was a staunch defender of democracy and an invaluable member of the Reagan team,” said Edwin Meese III, attorney general under President Reagan.

“He had a tremendous understanding of the Cold War, which contributed greatly to his value as a member of the Reagan national security team,” Mr. Meese said.

“Constantine was a national treasure,” said Al Santoli, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council, a Washington think tank. “We’ll miss him tremendously.”

“Constantine Menges was one of the great visionaries of the Cold War and post-Cold War era,” said former CIA Director R. James Woolsey. “He understood the totalitarian threats to the West better than any observer. He was a great patriot and we will all miss him sorely.”

A resident of Georgetown, Mr. Menges was born in Ankara, Turkey, in 1939, the son of political refugees from Nazi Germany. His family reached he United States in 1943.

He received a physics degree from Columbia College and a doctorate in political science from Columbia University, where he specialized in Soviet and German affairs.

Mr. Menges was a foreign policy adviser to Mr. Reagan in 1980, and then from 1981 to 1983 worked for CIA Director William J. Casey as a national intelligence officer for Latin American affairs.

At the White House, Mr. Menges was known as a political infighter who worked to prevent Mr. Reagan’s policies from being undermined by opponents in government, particularly the State Department, which often opposed the president’s conservative agenda, said friends who worked with him.

He was a key player in developing the Reagan Doctrine that led to the fall of Soviet communism beginning in 1989.

Mr. Menges worked on the National Security Council staff from 1983 to 1986 as a special assistant to the president for national security affairs, where he specialized in Latin American affairs.

He was a professor at George Washington University from 1990 to 2000, where he founded and led the Program on Transitions to Democracy. His work focused on promoting democracy in post-communist states, Iraq and Iran, and the Americas.

In recent years, he specialized in issues related to the United States, Russia and China.

A veteran of the Cold War, Mr. Menges personally took part in helping Germans escape East Berlin as the Berlin Wall was being built in 1961. He also organized nonviolent civic resistance in Czechoslovakia after the 1968 Soviet military invasion.

Mr. Menges is survived by his wife, Nancy, and son, Christopher.

Funeral services are scheduled for noon Friday at Holy Trinity Church, 3513 N St. NW in the District.

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