Therese Delpech, historian, foreign policy analyst; at 63


PARIS - Therese Delpech, one of France’s leading foreign policy analysts and intellectual historians, died Jan. 18 at her apartment in Paris. She was 63.

The cause was a stroke. Dr. Delpech had been ill for some time, contending with a disease that she did not disclose.

She was an adviser to foreign ministers, including Alain Juppe from 1995 to 1997. From 1997 until her death, she was director of strategic studies for France’s Atomic Energy Commission.


Dr. Delpech was a formidable debater and a respected critic of communism, totalitarianism, and nuclear proliferation. She broke with many in France to support the US war against Saddam Hussein in Iraq, prompting much criticism. She was also an advocate for stronger efforts to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Although she considered war primitive - “war is a regression, in the psychological sense of the term, and the violence that it unleashes is in part uncontrollable,’’ she said - she was a realist.

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“It is not by proclaiming that war is the worst thing that one puts an end to it,’’ she said. “I find pathetic this form of magical thinking, taking into account the dangers visible on the horizon.’’

Perhaps her best-known book, translated into English, is “Savage Century: Back to Barbarism.’’ Published in France in 2005, it won the Prix Femina. In 2010 she published a very different kind of book, “The Call of the Shadow: The Power of the Irrational,’’ a poetic work with a musical structure that examined biblical tales, Greek tragedies, and myths.

Her last book, “The Man Without a Past: Freud and Historical Tragedy,’’ was published this month.

She was extremely private about her personal life.


“She never wished to talk about her disease,’’ said Francois Heisbourg, a senior adviser at the Foundation for Strategic Research here. “Her death was a solitary one.’’

“We disagreed on many things,’’ Heisbourg said. “But she was quite remarkable, and a real pillar among the French community of political strategists.’’

She leaves a sister.