Chester Cooper

Author of The Last Crusade (1979), Chester Cooper was born on January 13, 1917, in Boston, Massachusetts. He attended MIT, New York University, and Columbia, and received a Ph.D. at American University in Washington, D.C. Cooper worked for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) between 1945 and 1952, and then joined the staff of the National Security Council. Between 1963 and 1964, he served as deputy director of intelligence, and between 1964 and 1966 he was a member of McGeorge Bundy's staff, where he specialized in Asian affairs. Unlike the majority of men in either the Johnson or Nixon administrations, Cooper constantly encouraged a political solution over a military solution to the conflict. Yet, he also defended U.S. policies in South Vietnam, arguing that the United States did not exert itself more with Ngo Dinh Diem because it did not want to play the role of colonial master. With prospects for peace negotiations in early 1968, Cooper recommended establishment of communication channels with both the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong and insisted that South Vietnamese disagreement to negotiations must be overcome if negotiations were to be successful. He opposed the Cambodian invasion (Operation Binh Tay) because it expanded the war and made it impossible to negotiate a valid peace settlement in Paris without dealing with Cambodia and Laos. One of the first to recognize the plight of Amerasian children, Cooper recommended in 1973 that the United States offer enthusiastic support for UNICEF's program to care for the children.