Richard F. Staar
Richard F. Staar passed away on March 27, 2018. He was a senior fellow, emeritus at the Hoover Institution. He served as US ambassador to the Mutual and Balanced Force Reduction (MBFR) negotiations in Vienna, Austria. His areas of specialization included the Federation of Russia and East-Central Europe, military strategy, national security, arms control, and public diplomacy.
Staar's publications included The New Military in Russia: Ten Myths That Shape the Image (Naval Institute Press, 1996); Transition to Democracy in Poland (St. Martin's Press, revised edition 1998); and Born Under a Lucky Star (University Press of America, 2002).
His best-selling text Communist Regimes in Eastern Europe (5th revised edition, 1988), adopted by 251 colleges and universities, was issued to incoming US foreign service officers and has been translated into four languages. Soviet Military Policy since World War II, coauthored with William T. Lee, was published in 1986 and translated into Chinese. An earlier volume, Poland, 1944–1962: Sovietization of a Captive People, has been reprinted by Greenwood Press.
In addition, Staar served as editor in chief of the Yearbook on International Communist Affairs from 1969 to 1991. He contributed to and edited Aspects of Modern Communism as well as Arms Control: Myth versus Reality (reprinted in paperback, 1988).
He served on the editorial boards of Orbis and Mediterranean Quarterly. He has been a consultant to the Department of Defense; the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (1983–87); and Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico (1991–92).
Staar held membership in the following: American Association for Advancement of Slavic Studies, American Political Science Association, and International Studies Association.
He evaluated applications for grants to the National Endowment for the Humanities; served on the International Research and Exchanges Board selection committee for American scholars to do research in the Baltic countries and the Commonwealth of Independent States during 1990–92; and chaired the US Department of State–administered Title VIII (Research and Training Act, Public Law 98–164) selection committee at the Hoover Institution from 1984 to 1997.
Staar was proficient in several languages and served as interpreter for Alexander Solzhenitsyn when the Nobel laureate visited the Hoover Institution on two occasions.
His training and background included academic and government work: research specialist for the State Department; chairman of the political science department at Emory University; visiting professor at the National War College; and chief of mission to MBFR, with ambassadorial rank.
He lectured in eighteen foreign countries and achieved the rank of colonel (06) in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. He was awarded the presidential Legion of Merit in 1983.
Staar received an AB degree with Phi Beta Kappa distinction from Dickinson College, an AM from Yale University, and a PhD in political science from the University of Michigan. Dickinson awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1998.
During 1997–99 he served as visiting research professor of international relations at Boston University as well as associate at the Davis Center for Russian Studies at Harvard University. In 1999 and 2000, Staar taught as a visiting professor of political science at Duquesne University. Staar has served as a distinguished visiting professor of political science at San Jose State University since 2003.