Fred was undersecretary for defense policy from 1981 to 1987. Born in Switzerland, he came to America in 1946, and in time joined the Reagan Revolution. He was a uniquely gifted defense strategist but also very competent across a wide area of intellectual life.
With the illustrious Albert Wohlstetter, Fred devised U.S. nuclear defense strategy during some of the most dangerous days of the Cold War. At some time in the 1970s, Bob Bartley, the great editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page, introduced us during a policy seminar, I believe, in Geneva.
From that time on, Fred always made time for me and for my writers to be briefed on threats to the free world. He sat down with us at editorial lunches and kept us apprised of strategic developments almost to the very end. In July 2010, he appeared in The American Spectator's pages for the last time. He was 86 years old.
In the 1970s, Fred opposed arms control as imprudent and shortsighted and favored a credible deterrent as a safer strategy. While at the Pentagon, he was instrumental in getting the strategic defense initiative going and deploying midrange nuclear missiles in Europe, to the anger of the Soviet bloc. He was a proponent of Reagan's arms buildup that bankrupted the Soviet Union and of sending Stinger missiles to Afghanistan where the Red Army began to doubt its invincibility.
Through all of his public life, Fred Ikle was a cheerful advocate of intellect on behalf of national security and personal liberty. Into his early 80s, he was on scientific boards, planning strategy and warning of threats to America. Americans owe him a lot.