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Biography of David Abshire

David Abshire

David M. Abshire is president and CEO of the Center for the Study of the Presidency and vice chair of the board of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., and served as its chief executive for many years.

In July 2002, he became president of the Richard Lounsbery Foundation of New York.

Abshire and Admiral Arleigh Burke founded the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in 1962. Over the past 40 years, the strategic, long-range, and anticipatory analyses of CSIS have had an impact on policymakers and business community leaders around the world. More recently from 1983-1987, he was ambassador to NATO where, in reaction to the threat posed by Soviet SS-20 missiles, he was the United States' point man in Europe for deployment of Pershing and Cruise missiles. This NATO success convinced Soviet leaders to sign the historic INP Treaty and withdraw their missiles. Abshire initiated a new conventional defense improvement effort so that NATO would not have to rely heavily on nuclear weapons. Because of his work, he received the Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest Defense Department civilian award.

During the Reagan administration, Abshire led the National Security Group, which included the State and Defense departments, the U.S. Information Agency, and the Central Intelligence Agency. He has also served on the advisory board of the Naval War College and on the executive panel of the Chief of Naval Operations. In 1987, he served as a special counselor to President Reagan with cabinet rank, to coordinate the Iran-Contra investigation.

He has received numerous awards for his public and military service. He also is the author of many newspaper articles, journals and five books, including the most recent Putting America's House in Order: The Nation as a Family, with Brock Brower (1996, Praeger Trade).

Abshire was born in 1926 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He received his bachelor's degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1951. He earned a Ph.D. in history with honors from Georgetown University in 1959; a Doctor of Humane Letters from Virginia Theological Seminary in 1992; and a Doctor of Civil Law, honoris causa, from the University of the South in 1994.

A veteran of the Korean War, Abshire served as a platoon leader, company commander and a division assistant intelligence officer. He received the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster with V for Valor, Commendation Ribbon with medal pendant, and Combat Infantry Badge.