Ronald D. Asmus, Official Who Favored Expanded NATO, Dies at 53

Ronald Asmus was executive director of the German Marshall Fund in Brussels.

From Binyamin Applebaum, the New York TimesRonald D. Asmus, an early proponent of expanding the Atlantic alliance to include Eastern European nations and a key figure in the Clinton administration’s realization of that vision, died Saturday in Belgium. He was 53. . . .

Mr. Asmus made his name in a 1993 article published by Foreign Affairs that was among the first public calls for an expansion of NATO in the wake of the cold war. He and the article’s two other authors, all employees of the RAND Corporation, argued that the United States should embrace the inclusion in the alliance of Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary — and potentially other countries — as the best way to make Europe “whole, free and at peace. . . .”

In 1997 Mr. Asmus joined the State Department as a deputy assistant secretary in the European bureau, where he played a leading role in making that expansion a reality. . . .

Mr. Asmus traveled with Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright to Independence, Mo., in 1999 for the ceremonies marking the official entry of Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary into NATO. Ms. Albright greeted him with a hug, he later recalled, telling him: “Ron, it’s doesn’t get any better than this. We are making history. . . .”

In recent years, Mr. Asmus kept working to strengthen ties between America and Central Europe as head of the Brussels office of the German Marshall Fund, a Washington-based think tank endowed by the German government in 1972 to foster trans-Atlantic cooperation.

He is survived by his wife, Barbara Wilkinson; his son, Erik Asmus; his mother; and two brothers.  (photo: German Marshall Fund)

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