Mr. Simmons' Mission: NATO Bases From Balkans To Chinese Border
The death of American sociologist C. Wright Mills at 45 years of age in 1962 was an irreparable loss not only to the United States but to the world, and not only to his generation but the three that have succeeded it and on into the indefinite future.
He was as at home quoting Rousseau, Balzac and Jacob Burckhardt, always to good purpose, as he was formulating such concepts and models as military metaphysics, mass society, the higher immorality and the cult of celebrity as early as 1955.
Mills did so in his mature, post-university writings with a simplicity of style and expression matching the profundity and perspicacity of his observations and conclusions.
In his work of the same name Mills defined the sociological imagination as the intersection of biography and history.
The same may be said of politics, particularly world politics, and if the word can still be used in the current 'postmodern' and 'post-historical' epoch, destiny. Indeed for Mills sociology was no dry discipline, no mere compendium of data and experimental results but living history, the historical dynamic captured in the moment, and perhaps the collective human exemplification of philosophical principles employed in a conscious manner.
History is replete with examples of an individual's personal trajectory paralleling and illustrating the trends of a historical period and process, for better or worse, with benign or malignant effects. Sometimes with both.
A standard example is that of Talleyrand-Perigord ("Regimes may fall and fail, but I do not"), whose diplomatic career both reflected and affected for the 45 years from 1789-1834 the tumultuous developments in France from the fall of the ancien regime to the abrupt end of its restoration.
A person performing such a role, whether possessed of a more than usual degree of energy and ambition or of a steadily plodding nature, will be the equivalent of a tracer bullet or dye injected into the bloodstream for an angiogram. One can view in the person the intricacy of broader patterns and learn to spot the presence and trajectory of the second by that of the first.
A person matching the description offered, though not likely to be discussed centuries later like Talleyrand or even decades afterward like Mills, is Robert F. Simmonds, Jr.
Biographical information on him is scant and basically reducible to the official sketch provided for him on the NATO International website dated December 14, 2007 at:
Dates aren't often provided, but the NATO site mentions that Simmons was US State Department Deputy Director of the Office of Regional Political and Security Issues in the Bureau of European Affairs at some point presumably in the mid-1990s.
The entry in question mentions that in the above position "[H]e managed U.S. policy in connection with NATO, the OSCE, and European security architecture. The issues he covered included NATO enlargement; NATO adaptation, including the creation of EAPC and PfP; and the development of the role of the OSCE. Previously he was assigned as Deputy Political Advisor to the U.S. Mission to NATO and U.S. Representative to the NATO Political Committee."
PfP is the Alliance's Partnership for Peace transitional program to full membership and was inaugurated in 1994. In the intervening years it has absorbed all fifteen former Soviet republics, recently completed grabbing all six former Yugoslav federal republics and every once neutral state in Europe - Austria, Finland, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland and Malta - except for Cyprus, although the European Union has of late applied pressure on the island nation, now that it's in the EU, to join the Partnership for Peace.
The EAPC is the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, which subsumes all current NATO members with all candidate and other PfP nations as well as assorted bilateral partnerships, conceivably as many as a third of the countries in the world.
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