Harlan B. Cleveland

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Harlan B. Cleveland, (1918-2008) "was a public administrator, ambassador to NATO, and a political scientist. He served in several positions related to the administration of economic aid programs during the 1940s, as an assistant secretary in the State Department and as U.S. ambassador to NATO during the 1960s, and also held positions at three universities and the Aspen Institute.

"Cleveland began his career in public service in 1940 as a writer in the information division of the Farm Security Administration. In 1942, he embarked on a period of work with economic aid, first with the Board of Economic Warfare (later the Foreign Economic Administration) from 1942 to 1944, where he focused on problems of relief and economic rehabilitation of the European countries that were occupied by Germany. He next served as executive director and acting vice president of the economic section of the Allied Control Commission in Rome from 1944 to 1946. Cleveland worked for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) as department chief of the Italian Mission from 1946 to 1947 and as director of the China office from 1947 to 1948. He then served as director (1948-1949) and department assistant administrator (1949-1951) of the Far East Program Division of the ECA (Economic Cooperation Administration). His final position during this period of his career was assistant director for the Mutual Security Agency, in charge of the European program, from 1952 to 1953, when he supervised the fourth year of the Marshall Plan.

"Cleveland left government service in 1953 to become executive editor of The Reporter, a liberal biweekly magazine in New York City, a position he held until 1956. He also served as the publisher from 1955 to 1956. From 1956 to 1961, he was a professor of political science and dean of the Maxwell Graduate School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, where he built a significant overseas training program.

"In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed Cleveland assistant secretary for international organization affairs in the U.S. Department of State, a position he held until 1965. In this position, he served as an intermediary between Secretary of State Dean Rusk and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Adlai Stevenson and was involved in responding to several peace and security crises during that period, including in the Congo, West New Guinea, Cypress, the Middle East, and the Cuban missile crisis. He was also responsible for ensuring that ambassadors to international organizations promoted and protected U.S. interests and for selecting the U.S. delegation for any international projects or conferences. Cleveland then served President Lyndon B. Johnson as U.S. ambassador to NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) from 1965 to 1969. Cleveland advocated nuclear arms control and strengthening the United Nations for an expanded peace-keeping role. He also organized the move of NATO from Paris to Brussels when French president Charles de Gaulle removed France from the alliance in 1966.

"Cleveland returned to academia in 1969 as the eighth president of the University of Hawaii, a position he held until 1974. As president, he oversaw the expansion of the university to include a medical school, law school, and an international astronomy project. From 1974 to 1980, he was director of the program in international affairs of the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies, located in Princeton, New Jersey. The program was one of six "think tanks" operated by the Institute at that time, each considering a significant issue. The programs developed ideas and proposals for adapting existing institutions and developing new ones to address the issues. During his tenure, the international affairs program focused on methods for coping with an increasingly interdependent world, including the need for a new international economic order. In the last change of his career, Cleveland served as the first dean of the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota from 1980 to 1987. After his retirement, Cleveland continued to write and lecture on a wide variety of topics, largely within the fields of leadership, public policy and world affairs. His books include The Overseas Americans (1960), The Promise of World Tensions (1961), The Obligations of Power: American Diplomacy in the Search for Peace (1966), The Future Executive (1972), and The Knowledge Executive (1985).

"Harlan Cleveland was born in New York City on January 19, 1918 to Stanley and Marian (Van Buren) Cleveland. He graduated from Princeton University in 1938, where he studied politics, and then studied for a year at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. He married Lois W. Burton on July 12, 1941 and they had three children: Melantha, Zoe, and Alan. Cleveland died on May 30, 2008 at the age of 90." [1]

"Many of his ideas are of importance for the Global Marshall Plan Initiative, especially his thoughts on Global Governance." [2]

He served as Lyndon Johnson's U.S. Ambassador to NATO, 1965–1969, and earlier as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, 1961-1965. He was President of the University of Hawaii 1969–1974, and the World Academy of Art and Science in the 1990s and founding dean of the University of Minnesota's Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.

"Ambassador Cleveland is a past president of the American Society for Public Administration and a long-time member of the American Political Science Association and of the Council on Foreign Relations. Among numerous board memberships, he has served as chairman (now honorary chairman) of The American Forum for Global Education, chairman (now vice-chairman) of the National Retiree Volunteer Coalition, and vice-chairman of The Atlantic Council. He is currently a director of the Joyce Mertz-Gilmore Foundation, a trustee of the American Refugee Committee, a director of the World Future Society, the Common Heritage Corporation and Global Action Plan, and a member of the U.S. Board of the International Leadership Center on Longevity and Society." [3]


Select Books

  • Birth of a New World: An Open Moment for International Leadership (1993).
  • The Global Commons: Policy for the Planet (1990).
  • The Knowledge Executive: Leadership in an Information Society (1985).

Other Notes

Cleveland served on the U.S. Weather Modification Advisory Board (77-78). His name has been associated with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch


  1. princeton.edu Harlan Cleveland Papers, 1937-2006 (bulk 1960-1979): Finding Aid, organizational web page, accessed April 30, 2012.
  2. Harlan Cleveland, Global Marshall Plan Initiative, accessed January 8, 2009.
  3. Club of Rome Harlan Cleveland, organizational web page, accessed April 30, 2012.
  4. World Future Society Harlan Cleveland, organizational web page, accessed April 30, 2012.
  5. Directors, Catched Page, accessed April 3, 2009.
  6. Advisors, Pathways To Peace, accessed October 19, 2011.