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Cyrus Roberts Vance (March 27, 1917–January 12, 2002) was the United States Secretary of State under President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1980. He approached foreign policy with an emphasis on negotiation over conflict and a special interest in arms reduction. In April 1980, Vance resigned in protest of Operation Eagle Clawmarker, the secret mission to rescue American hostages in Iran. He was succeeded by Edmund Muskie.

Vance was the cousin (and adoptive son) of 1924 Democratic Presidential Candidate and noted lawyer John W. Davis.

He was the father of Manhattan District Attorney candidate Cyrus Vance, Jr.

Early life and education

Vance was born in Clarksburg, West Virginiamarker. He graduated from Kent School in 1935 and received a bachelor's degree in 1939 from Yale Universitymarker, where he was a member of the secret society Scroll and Key. He also earned three letters in ice hockey at Yale. He graduated from Yale Law School in 1942.

Military and legal career

Vance served in the United States Navy as a gunnery officer on the destroyer USS Hale until 1946, and then joined the law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in New York Citymarker, before entering government services.

Political career

Vance was the Secretary of the Army in the John F. Kennedy administration. He was Secretary when Army units were sent to northern Mississippimarker in 1962 to protect James Meredith and ensure that the court-ordered integration of the University of Mississippimarker took place.

As Deputy Secretary of Defense under President Lyndon Johnson, he first supported the Vietnam War but by the late 1960s changed his views and resigned from office advising the president to pull out of South Vietnam. In 1968 he served as a delegate to peace talks in Paris. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969.

As Secretary of State in the Jimmy Carter administration, Vance pushed for negotiations and economic ties with the Soviet Unionmarker, and clashed frequently with the more hawkish National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski. Vance tried to advance arms limitations by working on the SALT II agreement with the Soviet Unionmarker, which he saw as the central diplomatic issue of the time. He was heavily instrumental in Carter's decision to return the Canal Zonemarker to Panamamarker, and in the Camp David Accords agreement between Israelmarker and Egyptmarker.

After the Accords, Vance's influence in the administration began to wane as Brzezinski's rose. His role in talks with People's Republic of Chinamarker was marginalized, and his advice for a response to the Shah of Iran's collapsing regime was ignored. Shortly thereafter, when 53 American hostages were held in Iran, he worked actively in negotiations but to no avail. Finally, when Carter ordered a secret military rescue - Operation Eagle Clawmarker - Vance resigned in opposition after the rescue attempt failed.

In 1997 he was made the original honorary chair of the American Iranian Council.

Yugoslav wars

Vance returned to his law practice at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in 1980, but was repeatedly called back to public service throughout the 1980s and 1990s, participating in diplomatic missions to Bosniamarker, Croatiamarker, and South Africa.

In 1991 he was named Special Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for Croatia and proposed a plan for solution of conflict in Croatia. Authorities of Croatiamarker and Serbiamarker agreed to Vance's plan, but the leaders of SAO Krajina rejected it, even though it offered Serbs quite a large degree of autonomy by the rest of the world's standards, as it did not include full independence for Krajina. He continued his work as member of Zagreb 4 group. The plan they drafted, named Z-4, was effectively superseded when Croatian forces retook the Krajina region (Operation Storm) in 1995.

In January 1993, as the United Nations Special Envoy to Bosnia, Vance and Lord David Owen, the EU representative, began negotiating a peace plan for the ending the War in Bosnia. Their plan was criticised as conceding too much to Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić and for treating him as a diplomatic equal to the leaders of Bosnia and Croatia, when others regarded him as a war criminal. Nevertheless, it was Bosnian Serbs that first rejected the plan, and Vance announced his resignation as Special Envoy to the UN Secretary-General. He was replaced by Norwegian Foreign Minister Thorvald Stoltenberg.

Later life and death

In 1993, he was awarded the United States Military Academy'smarker Sylvanus Thayer Award.

In 1995, Cyrus Vance again acted as Special Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and signed the interim accord as witness in the negotiations between the Republic of Macedoniamarker and Greecemarker.

Vance also was a member of the Trilateral Commission.

He died aged 84 after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease, and was interred at Arlington National Cemeterymarker.

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