Wilson Center Experts

Larry Watts


Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding
Czech Republic
Former Adviser, Romanian Defense Ministry; Visiting Professor, Security Studies and Intelligence Analysis, University of Bucharest
Wilson Center Project(s):
"Romania and the Search for an End to the War in Vietnam, 1965-1974"
Nov 04, 2013
Dec 06, 2013

Larry L. Watts is a visiting professor for Security Studies and Intelligence Analysis at the University of Bucharest. His service as security sector reform advisor to Romania’s Defense Oversight Committee, Presidential Counselor for National Security, Defense Ministry, Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE), and Police General Inspectorate during 1991-2009 earned him awards for promoting military reform and NATO integration, implementing democratic oversight, promoting ethnic reconciliation, and fostering Romanian-American relations. He served concurrently as senior consultant and Bucharest office director to the Princeton-based Project on Ethnic Relations during 1991-1997, engaging in mediation efforts throughout the former Soviet space. His work With Friends Like These: The Soviet Bloc’s Clandestine War Against Romania (2010), published in Romanian translation in 2011, has been the subject of nine one-hour documentaries on Romania’s national television station TVR1. He has lectured widely in Europe and the U.S., most recently at the Defense Intelligence Agency’s National Intelligence University.

Project Summary

Professor Watts examines the mediation efforts made by Romania during the Vietnam War (1965-1974) at the behest of Presidents Johnson and Nixon within the context of Romania’s four-way negotiations with U.S. leaders, with the North Vietnamese leadership, with leaders of the People’s Republic of China, and with the Kremlin. Romanian motivations for accepting that task are analyzed, as are the political risks Bucharest incurred and the techniques it employed in pursuit of U.S.-North Vietnamese negotiations, providing insight into the difficulties of mediation during wartime. Also addressed is the process by which the U.S. Department of Defense misperceived the Romanian effort as unserious – for example, in the Diplomatic Volumes of the Pentagon Papers – when President Johnson, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, and Special Envoy W. Averell Harriman were unanimous in considering it among the most serious and successful of all the foreign mediation efforts.

Major Publications

  • Romanian Security Policy and the Cuban Crisis, Cold War International History Project e-Dossier No. 38, February 2013
  • A Romanian Interkit? Soviet Active Measures and the Warsaw Pact "Maverick" 1965-1989, Cold War International History Project Working Paper No. 56, December 2012
  • With Friends Like These: The Soviet Bloc's Clandestine War Against Romania (Bucharest: Military Publishing House, 2010)

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