This is a very special occasion. We are all devoted fans of Fred, we miss him,
and we've come together to talk about him. He was no mean talker himself and
we think he would like it.
The Carnegie Endowment was just one of Fred's many homes-away-from-home, just
as we in this crowded room represent only a small number of his friends and
admirers -- of the many lives he touched.
I know that a number of you were in Dallas a few weeks back for a Texas tribute
to Fred. It took place at the hangar where he kept his glider and featured
Bar-B-Que and beer. It was a vintage Fred occasion.
This being Washington, tonight all we're pushing is cookies, canapés and
wine. But in keeping with what we are sure would be Fred's wishes, we don't
want this to be a starchy, solemn event. In recalling Fred's extraordinary
life and work -- his humanity -- we want to keep it informal and we want all of
you to feel free to speak.
First, some introductions. In recent months, I have gotten to know the Cuny
clan. Like Fred himself, they are extraordinary people -- courageous,
determined, and throughout their ordeal, unfailingly caring of others. Fred
had good reason to be proud of
them. We are pleased to have many members of Fred's family with us and I 'd
like to ask Fred's father, Gene, to introduce them.
I would like now to offer some brief personal remarks, and then call upon the
other co-sponsors of this occasion to speak. After that, the floor will be
Our friend Fred Cuny was a man of passions. I can talk about only four
First, he had a passion for "getting in on the action", to go where the problem
was, to start getting the job done. "Let's go to Somalia, Rwanda -- you name
it -- he would constantly say to me. Fred in action was a marvel to behold --
and I am sure to many -something of an exasperation. He was a red-tape cutter,
a circumventer, an innovator, a detector of bull and often an earth
mover literally and figuratively.
My first Fred experience -- there were many -- was after the Gulf War in
April, 1991 -- the 19th or 20th, while I was the American Ambassador to Turkey.
We met at a coffee shop in Incerlik -- the Turkish base for Operation Provide
Comfort. Fred had just come from Kuwait, where he had helped restore the
city's operation, to work for AID on the Kurdish refugee problem. After their
uprising failed, some 400,000 Kurds found themselves sitting in terrible
conditions on the mountainous Turkish/Iraq border. The allied forces had
stabilized the immediate situation, but the Kurds couldn't remain in the
mountains for too long. The huge challenge was how to get them safely back to
northern Iraq, which required setting up some sort of safe zone, which at that
time had not been done.
So, Fred, who had spent just two days assessing the situation, tells me we can
get all the refugees home in two months. Well, I had been around Turkey for 18
months, and dealing continuously with the Kurdish refugee crisis for four
weeks, and I said to him: "Fred, you know, you' re full of crap!" He did not
blink an eyelash, but simply went on talking endlessly. By the end of our 2
hour or so conversation he had in fact convinced me it could be done. Fred
went on to work with the military, who did a splendid job, to map out and
implement a plan to return the Kurds. The rest is history - an extraordinary
event in repatriating a huge population so quickly after they fled their
After that initial encounter, I spent a lot of time with Fred, riding, flying
and walking around much of northern Iraq, surveying many of the villages Saddam
had destroyed. We looked at the same things, but he opened my eyes. He had
answers before questions even occurred to me. Among other things, he persuaded
me that the thing to do was to return the Kurds to their own damaged houses
possible or to abandoned houses rather than build big tent cities for them as
many argued for. You see, Fred always looked beyond the immediate crisis. He
saw how important it was not just to save lives, but to find ways to restore a
way of life, to give refugees some semblance of normalcy, something to hold
onto and build upon -and by the way it reduced costs. Fred was a bear in that
As held remind me, Fred was right most of the time. But even when he was
wrong, Fred had something interesting to say. And that is why when I came here
to Carnegie, I knew I wanted him at this institution in any arrangement we
could devise. Time and again -in crises from Somalia to Bosnia -- I was struck
how his kind of knowledge and experience, his conceptual and analytical skills
made him a unique field operator and could at times make a real difference.
Which brings me to Fred's second passion: reforming the international crisis
response system. Iraq, Bosnia, Somalia -- Fred was a veteran of most of the
post-Cold War emergencies, and many of the other large-scale man-made and
natural disasters going back a quarter of a century. He was convinced that the
international crisis response system itself was in crisis and needed help. The
will, the capacity, the effectiveness of governments, international
organizations and the private community, he felt, were falling grievously
short. Too often, he also saw the humanitarian response substitute for more
decisive action by governments and international
Of course, Fred was a realist -- he knew that not every crisis could be
prevented or brought to a speedy end -- or that governmental reluctance to
engage could be easily overcome. But much could be. His realism and
pragmatism were matched by resolve and a big heart. He refused to believe that
the international community was powerless, or couldn't do better. And that is
why he spent so much time working to help conceive and establish a new private
international effort called the International Crisis Group, in which he was
expected to take a major role. His death was a deep loss to that
So, this evening, I'd like to announce the inauguration by the Carnegie
Endowment of the Frederick C. Cuny Humanitarian Award. The Cuny Award of $10,
000 will be given each year to a private person or organization that has made
an outstanding contribution to the prevention, amelioration, or resolution of
man-made crises. The first award honoring Fred and his deep involvement in
creating the organization will go in his name to the International Crisis
Group. We hope the award itself will be another way to perpetuate Fred's
Fred's third passion is consistent with the first two. It too, involves
action, fieldwork and inspired strategizing. It requires facing challenges and
facing up to mistakes and correcting them.
It also demands courage in the face of great odds and a fervent commitment.
In short, Fred was passionate about: The Dallas Cowboys! I never saw him more
desolate than in London last January when Dallas lost the conference
Fred's fourth, and strongest, passion was of course people. He never saw
humanitarian problems in the abstract, at a distance, despite his own superb
capacity for analytical detachment. Suffering multitudes were not faceless for
him. He did spend as much time taking care of one person as he would trying to
help a multitude. That's another reason Fred was a rare figure.
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