Robert Dickson Crane

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Dr. Robert Dickson Crane (born March 26, 1929)[1] is the former adviser to the late President of the United States Richard Nixon, and is former Deputy Director (for Planning) of the United States National Security Council.[2] He has authored or co-authored more than a dozen books[3] and over 50 professional articles on comparative legal systems, global strategy, and information management. [4]

Early life and education[edit]

Crane was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts.[1] In 1945, at the age of 16, he entered Harvard University to study Russian as the first step in becoming an international journalist. In 1948, he became the first American permitted to study at a university in Occupied Germany, having been accepted at the University of Munich.[citation needed] There he studied the sociology of religion and prepared a book on the phenomenon of totalitarian ideology and on the spiritual dynamics of resistance against it.

Upon his return to the United States, Dr. Crane got his B.A. from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, in 1956, and his J.D. from Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA . His thesis was titled "The Accomomodation of Ethics in International Commercial Arbitration" and was published in the Arbitration Journal, Fall 1959.[5] At Harvard, he also founded the Harvard International Law Journal and acted as the first president of the Harvard International Law Society.[6]

Dr. Crane was admitted to the District of Columbia Bar in 1960.[5]

Political career[edit]

In 1962, Crane became one of the four co-founders of the first Washington-based foreign-policy think-tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). In 1966, he left to become Director of Third World Studies at the first professional futures forecasting center, The Hudson Institute, led by Herman Kahn.[3]

From the time of the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 until the beginning of Richard Nixon’s victorious campaign for the presidency in 1967, Crane was a foreign policy adviser, responsible for preparing a “reader's digest” of professional articles for Nixon on the key foreign policy issues. During the campaign, Crane collected his position papers into a book, Inescapable Rendezvous: New Directions for American Foreign Policy, with a foreword by Congressman Gerald Ford, who succeeded Nixon as President.[2]

On January 20, 1969, Crane moved into the White House as Deputy Director (for Planning) of the National Security Council. In 1977-78 he spent a year as Principal Economic and Budget Adviser to the Finance Minister in the Emirate of Bahrain.[3]

In September 1981, President Ronald Reagan appointed Crane to be U.S. ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, but this also was short-lived. Crane has stated that Reagan’s friend, Judge William Clark, who became Director of the National Security Council, wanted him as the first Muslim-American ambassador, to pursue two-track diplomacy by developing relations with the various Islamist movements in the Middle East and North Africa. According to Crane, the new Secretary of State, Alexander Haig, did not agree with this policy and had him fired.[2]

Conversion to Islam[edit]

According to Crane, "Allah converted me to Islam when I was five years old, and again through a religious experience when I was 21, but I did not know there were other persons in the world who understood what Allah showed me until I met an old man in Bahrain who told me that there is a word for what I worshiped, and this is "Allah." I figured that all Muslims could not be bad, as I had thought before, if this man was so good and was an admitted Muslim. I did not choose to become a Muslim. I am and have always been a Muslim, but did not know it self-consciously until I was 50 years old.”[7]

Muslim activism[edit]

Since the early 1980s, Crane has worked full-time as a Muslim activist. From 1983 to 1986, he was the Director of Da’wa at the Islamic Center on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, D.C. In 1986 he joined the International Institute of Islamic Thought as its Director of Publications, and then helped to found the American Muslim Council, now defunct serving as Director of its Legal Division from 1992 to 1994.

From 1994 until the present time he has headed his own research center, the Center for Policy Research, located in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Washington, D.C. Since 1996 he has also been a board member of the United Association for Studies and Research and Managing Editor of its Middle East Affairs Journal.[2] Crane has been a long-time principal adviser to Hamas official Dr. Ahmed Yousef, also associated with the Journal Middle East Affairs.[8]

He is also an editor for the online magazine The American Muslim.[9]

Crane was also the founding President of the American Muslim Bar Association.[6]


Crane has co-authored more than a dozen books, including:[3]

  • Détente: Cold War Strategies in Transition, Dulles and Crane, CSIS, Praeger, 1965
  • Planning the Future of Saudi Arabia: A Model for Achieving National Priorities, Praeger, 1978
  • Shaping the Future: Challenge and Response, Tapestry, 1997.

These books have been augmented by numerous monographs, including the following produced under the Islamic Institute for Strategic Studies before the September 11, 2001 attacks:[3]

  • Meta-law: An Islamic Policy Paradigm, 49 pages
  • The Grand Strategy of Justice, 83 pages
  • Kosovo and Chechnya: Products of the Past, Harbingers of the Future, 32 pages
  • The Role of Religion in America, 24 pages
  • The Muslim Challenge in America and the World, 35 pages