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Angelo Codevilla, RIP

Above: Angelo Codevilla speaking in Prof. Ken deGraffenreid’s intelligence course at IWP in August 1994. 

My initial contact with Angelo goes back nearly half a century when we both worked Capitol Hill as “conservative” staff on National Security issues, me in the House he in the Senate. In 1975, we shared a memorable year together as “Fellows” at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. At the time, I was single, while Angelo and Ann Marie had me over often for dinner with their several children, then toddlers. With wine and the good cheer characteristic of Italian hosts (Angelo was born in Italy), we shared many happy times together, isolated from the daily tensions of politics and its personalities.

Over the years our lives continued to intersect as the Cold War brought us together in its many arenas, usually back in the Capitol. Angelo also taught at Georgetown, later Boston University, myself at the Catholic University of America. At the same time, we met often on many of the Cold War’s several “frontlines,” both in the Academy and in politics.

Angelo was a virtual “dynamo” on both fronts. In the Senate, he served as staff for Senator Malcolm Wallop (R-WY) on the Select Committee on Intelligence. Subsequently, I also served for Senator Wallop in his think tank, Frontiers of Freedom. Angelo also took on technology, writing books and articles on arms control in general, the 1987 INF Treaty, and became instrumental in the development of the vehicle that, almost single-handedly, won the Cold War: the Strategic Defense Initiative (1983). About the same time, Angelo served in the U.S. Navy and, briefly, also joined the Foreign Service.

Upon reflection, how could an Italian immigrant (he became a U.S. citizen in 1962) do all that in such a short time?

But that’s almost nothing compared to his teachings and writings! He covered the waterfront and then some: Political Philosophy (translation of Machiavelli, Montesquieu), Intelligence (Intelligence for a New Century), International Relations (A Remedial Course in Statecraft, A Student’s Guide to International Relations, The Character of Nations), War (War: Ends and Means with Paul Seabury), Arms Control (The Arms Control Delusion with Senator Wallop), Culture, (The Ruling Class, Modern France, Between the Alps and a Hard Place: Switzerland in World War II).

And English was his second language!

But that’s not all. His numerous articles on the same variety also covered the landscape: Foreign Affairs, Commentary, National Review, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Intercollegiate Review, and (my favorite) Claremont Review (he got his Ph.D. from Claremont).

Nothing I write here can do justice to this man; he was, seemingly, everywhere. And, at once! His engaging personality, while “not suffering fools,” was at the same time, humorous, lively, and generous to everyone he met. I’ll never forget the times he taught my class at The Institute of World Politics (IWP). For a handful of strangers, this guy came in armed with several note-pages of legal paper and went on past time. Eventually, I had to say, “Angelo, they have to go home now.” “Oh, sorry, but we can take this up later,” was his usual reply.

Why couldn’t he go on to 100?