March 14, 2017
Richard H. Solomon, a senior fellow at the RAND Corporation, a China scholar and a seasoned diplomat who helped direct U.S. policy toward East Asia under President George H.W. Bush, died Monday at his home in Bethesda, Maryland. He was 79.
The cause was brain cancer, said his wife, Anne Solomon.
“Richard Solomon was an astute analyst of America's role on the global stage both during and after the Cold War,” said Michael D. Rich, president and CEO of RAND, the Santa Monica, California-based research organization. “He helped build RAND's international-security capabilities and brought valuable insights and experience to RAND's efforts to define the challenges the U.S. faces internationally and shape the policies needed to sustain America's security in a turbulent world.”
Solomon joined the U.S. State Department in 1986 as director of policy planning. In 1989 President Bush appointed him assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs. During his three years in the position, Solomon helped negotiate the Cambodian peace agreement, promoted dialogue on nuclear issues involving South and North Korea, and helped establish the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation initiative.
He was U.S. ambassador to the Philippines from 1992 to 1993, when he left to become president of the United States Institute of Peace, a nonpartisan, independent federally funded institution in Washington, D.C. that promotes nonviolent resolutions of conflicts.
After initially joining RAND early in his career, in 1976, Solomon served as head of the political science department, hiring and managing a staff of more than 50 social science and political science analysts. Over the next decade, he authored reports on U.S.-China relations and other foreign-policy issues involving key Asian states. He also wrote a series of studies on the negotiating behavior of major nations, including the U.S. and China, while at RAND and the United States Institute of Peace.
Returning to RAND in 2012 as a senior fellow, Solomon helped shape a project assessing America's foreign policy challenges in the 21st century and related challenges facing a new presidential administration. The project produced a series of reports, culminating with the 2017 report “Strategic Choices for a Turbulent World: In Pursuit of Security and Opportunity.”
He had served on the senior staff of the National Security Council from 1971 to 1976, working for National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger and helping pave the way for normalization of relations with China. Solomon authored 10 books, including “A Revolution is Not a Dinner Party” (1975), which Time magazine called an “ingenious attempt to explain the mysteries of Chinese politics to Western readers.”
Richard Harvey Solomon was born June 19, 1937, in Philadelphia. He studied political science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, earning a bachelor's degree in 1960 and a doctorate in political science in 1966. He began his career as a professor of political science, at the University of Michigan, teaching courses on Chinese politics from 1966 to 1971.
Solomon spent the longest stretch of his career at the United States Institute of Peace, from 1993 to 2012. During his presidency, the institute produced a highly regarded critique of conditions in Iraq following the 2003 U.S. invasion. He also presided over the 2011 opening of its architecturally distinctive headquarters on the National Mall near the Vietnam Veterans and Korean War memorials, a spot he henceforth called the “war and peace corner.”
In addition to his wife of 25 years, Anne Greene Keatley Solomon, he is survived by two children from his first marriage, Lisa Solomon of Santa Monica, California, and author and Wall Street Journal reporter Jonathan “Jay” Solomon of Washington; a stepson, Eric Keatley of Manhattan; a brother; and five grandchildren. His first marriage, to Carol Schwartz, ended in divorce.
A memorial service is being planned for the spring at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C.