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December 22, 2016
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December 12, 2011
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February 9, 1985
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Declassified in Part - Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2011/12/12 : CIA-RDP90-00965R000705970023-2 ON p~~F ~ 7P_ r NEW YORK TIMES 9 February 1985 New Man at the U.N.: Global ?'rouble-Shooter and skilled Linguist Global Trouble-Shooter By ELAINE SCIOLINO Special to The New York Timm UNITED NATIONS, N.Y., Feb. 8 - In "Silent Missions," his memoir, Gen. Vernon A. Walters relates a conversa- tion he had at a reception in 1964 with the Soviet Ambassador to Brazil. Man in the News The Ambassador com- plained to General Wal- tem. then the United States military attache in Brazil, that Americans al- ways wanted to speak English. Even when they try to learn a foreign tongue, he continued, they suffer because they do not have the Slavs' ear for lan- guages. General Walters, a gifted linguist, bluntly switched to Russian, asking him if he would like to speak Portu- guese instead. The Ambassador, insult- ed, replied, "Walters, you may be good soldier, but diplomat you are not." Interpreter to Presidents Now Vernon Anthony Walters, 68 years old, the 6-foot-3-inch former sol- dier and Ambassador at Large, will have the opportunity to prove his diplo- matic skills as successor to Jeane J. Kirkpatrick as chief American dele- gate to the United Nations. The highly visible, Cabinet-level job will mean a new challenge for the man who has made his reputation as a global trouble-shooter who does not call attention to himself. Gezieral Walters speaks seven foreign languages, five of them fluently, and has served part. time as interpreter to five Presidents. Of his outspoken predecessor, the general said in a recent telephone in- terview: "She's done a terrific job of restoring the position of the United States in the U.N. Everyone has a dif- ferent style, but it's the same President and basically the same policy." Supporters of General Walters say' they are confident he will bring both candor and loyalty to the United Na- tions job. "He's been everywhere in the world, speaks all the languages and can de- bate very effectively, " said William E. Colby, former Director of Central In- telligence. "When he worked for me, he was fearless in expressing his views and totally loyal once a decision was made. I used him as a total alter ego." But critics assert that although he has been effective when acting under instructions, he has never been called upon to craft policy or make major policy judgments. A practicing Roman Catholic and fervent anti-Communist, he is also an unabashed American flag-waver who has called the Vietnam War "one of the noblest and most unselfish wars" in American history. He says his world view is determined by what he calls his "certain idea about the United States - that it is the last best hope for man- kind." Human rights advocates, like Law- rence Birns of the Council on Hemi- spheric Affairs, a private study group, have criticized what they characterize as his lack of concern for human rights abuses and his long history of warm relations with extreme right-wing mill tary governments, such as the Pin Chet Government in Chile and Argenti- na's former military junta. Some rights advocates say they re- call his response to a reporter's ques- tion in 1981 on, Guatemala's poor human rights record. He said: "There are some problems that are never re- solved. One has to define a solution that respects a being's right to live without fear. But as I see it, the best way to d that is not to impose the ideas of one na- tion on top of another." Born in New York on Jan. 3,1917, the youngest of three children, he attended French and English Catholic schools but dropped out at the age of 16 to work in his British-born father's insurance company. He enlisted in the Army in 1941 and is fond of telling friends: "Adolf Hitler, did at least one good deed in his life. Hel got me out of my father's insurance company with my father's bless- Within a year he was a second lieu- tenant. As a bright aide who used his linguistic abilities to befriend foreign generals and diplomats, he rose rap- idly through the ranks. In World War II, he was assigned to be a liaison offi- cer with the Brazilian forces fighting in the United States Fifth Army in Italy under Gen. Mark Clark. His language abilities brought him to General Clark's attention, and ultimately to the attention of Gen. Alfred M. Gunther, the Fifth Army's chief of staff. He was aide-de-camp to General Clark during the liberation of Rome. From military attache in Rio de Janeiro and Paris, he rose to become a senior officer of the Defense Intelli- gence Agency. After 35 years in the service, he retired as a three-star gen- eral. Although he may not have made his- tory himself, he has certainly seen it firsthand. He served as W. Averell Harriman's aide in the early years of the cold war, accompanied_ President Truman on his historic meeting with a defiant Gen. Douglas MacArthur and shuttled with President Eisenhower to a series of summit meetings from Geneva to White Sulphur Springs,' W. Va. As translator for Vice President Nixon during his good-will tour of Latin America in 1958, General Walters was cut in the mouth by broken glass when a mob stoned their car in Caracas. Later, as military attache in Paris, General Walters is remembered for smuggling Henry A. Kissinger in and out of France for clandestine meetings with Le Due Tho of North Vietnam. "He was great as our James Bond, getting us in and out secretly, even giv- ing us code names," said Winston Lord, president of the Council on For- eign Relations, who accompanied Mr. Kissinger to the secret talks with the Vietnamese. Just weeks after becoming deputy di- rectarof the . under rest ent f Nixon. General Walters carried out structions from the White House chief of staff H. R. eman, to warn e Y.E.I. that the Watergate investigation could compro se t igence opera- tions in Mexico. "It simply did not occur to me that the chief of staff to the President might be as me .W o someting that was illegal or wrong," he wrote in his memoirs. He sat out a rter years, becom. ing a private consultant, including among his clients an American com- pany interested in selling arms to Mo. rocco. He gave up the lucrative work when President Reagan offered him the job of roving Ambassador in 1981. Since then, General Walters has vis. ited 100 countries and logged an aver- age of 10,000 miles a week as the Rea- gan Administration's chief trouble. shooter. A lifelong bachelor who does not smoke, drinks little and has an ac-' knowledged weakness for good choco. lates, General Walters combines straight talk with a raconteur's charm. "I've always felt I could get more done with no publicity," he said in the inter view. "This is further than I ever expected to get," General Walters-said of his new job. "Maybe I'm not so much of an amateur as the Soviet Ambassador thought I was." Declassified in Part - Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2011/12/12 : CIA-RDP90-00965R000705970023-2