Thomas O. Enders

Thomas Ostrom Enders
United States Ambassador to Canada
In office
February 17, 1976  December 14, 1979
President Gerald Ford
Preceded by William J. Porter
Succeeded by Kenneth M. Curtis
United States Ambassador to the European Communities
In office
President Jimmy Carter
Preceded by Deane R. Hinton
Succeeded by George S. Vest
Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs
In office
June 23, 1981  June 27, 1983
Preceded by William G. Bowdler
Succeeded by Langhorne A. Motley
United States Ambassador to Spain
In office
September 15, 1983  July 6, 1986
President Ronald Reagan
Preceded by Terence Todman
Succeeded by Reginald Bartholomew
Personal details
Born (1931-11-28)November 28, 1931
Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.
Died March 17, 1996(1996-03-17) (aged 64)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Resting place Waterford, Connecticut, U.S.
Alma mater Harvard University

Thomas Ostrom Enders (November 28, 1931 – March 17, 1996) was a United States diplomat. His father Ostrom Enders was president of the Hartford National Bank, and his uncle, John Franklin Enders, was the 1954 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine.

Enders was born on November 28, 1931 in Hartford, Connecticut. He was educated at Yale University, where he was a member of the Scroll and Key society, receiving a B.A. in 1953; at the University of Paris, receiving a M.A. in 1955; and Harvard University, receiving a M.A. in 1957.[1]

In 1958, Enders joined the United States Foreign Service as an intelligence research specialist. From 1960 to 1963, he was a visa officer and then an economic officer in Stockholm. From 1963, he was supervisory international economist at the Bureau of European Affairs. In 1966, he was a special assistant in the Office of the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. In 1968, he became Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Monetary Affairs.

From 1969, he was deputy chief of mission in Belgrade. From 1971 to 1973, he held the same position in Phnom Penh. In 1974, Enders became Assistant Under Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs.

In 1976, US President Gerald Ford nominated Enders as United States Ambassador to Canada; Enders held this post from February 17, 1976 to December 14, 1979. From 1979, he was United States Ambassador to the European Communities.

President Ronald Reagan nominated Enders as Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs; Enders held this office from June 23, 1981 to June 27, 1983.

Reagan then named Enders US Ambassador to Spain, with Enders presenting his credentials to the Spanish government September 15, 1983 and representing the U.S. in Spain until July 6, 1986.

Enders retired in 1986. He died in New York City on March 17, 1996. He is buried in Waterford, Connecticut.

Diplomatic career

Assistant Under Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs 1973-1976

Henry Kissinger appointed Enders to the role of Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs in 1973.[2] Ender’s job was to corral the allies into a common approach to the energy crisis and prevent bilateralism from gaining the upper hand. The US spearheaded the International Energy Program (IEP) Agreement,[3] underpinned by the International Energy Agency(IEA), which still exists today, as a counterweight to OPEC.[4] To make the US credible on the IEA, Congress adopted our first energy legislation in 1975 promoting conservation, renewable and alternative energy resources.[5]

Canada was a key piece of the energy supply puzzle, lying in between the lower 48 states and the Alaskan North Slope. The US Government had chosen the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline System (TAPS) over the more efficient Trans-Canadian route, to avoid relying on Canada for such a vital resource.[6] TAPS routed the oil pipeline from Prudhoe Bay to the Port of Valdez, then requiring transport via tanker to west coast ports. The Haida Nation, whose homeland is the Queen Charlotte Islands, protested that the passage of massively-laden oil tankers would create risks. Keenly conscious of the unique culture of the Haida Nation, Enders managed to impose on the US maritime shipping industry a 100-mile tanker exclusion zone from Cape St John, at least for a period of time.[7]

Enders was also an enthusiastic supporter of Canada's development of its own energy resources. Enders felt that it made more sense to exploit the Alberta tar sands, for example, to serve proximate markets in the lower 48 than distant markets in Central and Eastern Canada. This preference for North-South trade where manifestly more efficient became a common theme of his approach on coal and electricity, dovetailing with the economic interests of provincial premiers.[8]

US Ambassador to Canada 1976-1979

Tom Enders, Ambassador to Canada from 1976 to 1979, set the stage for the historic CUSFTA: he fired up talk of free trade with Canada; he engaged policymakers, business people and Canadians in general in a future-oriented dialogue to define a shared North-American destiny, reversing Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's third option and East-West blueprint for Canada's economic development.

Introducing himself in an interview with Bruce Philips on CTV on 11 April 1976, Tom said: "We think that the Canadian-American relationship is one that has a lot of opportunities as well as clearly some differences that have to be solved. I think that an activist approach to this is the word I would use about the kinds of missions that I've been given and the kind of person I expect to be here. This is necessary to ensure that we exploit those opportunities as well as try and resolve those differences so that the differences don't come to dominate the relationship."

Tom decided on an extensive outreach effort of speeches focussed on his 'missions': defence, energy, the environment and trade liberalisation. This was a dramatic change from the historical tradition of US envoys engaging in fatuous talk about best friends, closest neighbours and undefended border".[9] He was at times attacked for unwarranted intrusion in Canadian affairs.

Intensive socialising was also part of the programme. Tom and Gaetana both spoke perfect French: essential in Canada in 1976 on the eve of the victory of the Parti Quebecois. They travelled the length and breadth of Canada, Tom alone claiming to have travelled 50,000 miles each year.

Early on in his posting, Tom addressed in a speech at the Conference Board of Canada in November 1976, the "continentalism that haunts every discussion of improving Canadian-US relations".[10] This periodic Canadian paranoia of being absorbed by the US de facto, he thought, was a natural consequence of the US being Canada's top trading partner. He responded by noting that the US had now also recognised Canada as its top trading partner, setting the stage for a partnership of equals. Tom anticipated that mutual dependence would grow under ambitious tariff liberalisation.

"Canada-US relations will not work well", Tom said, "if we feel we are prisoners of that interdependence, not its masters." He urged a new common practice: that every difficulty and dispute be met with consultation, inquiry, process towards a joint understanding. He urged "expansionary" solutions be found to permit a higher balance of advantage, rather than taking something away from one country for the benefit of the other.[11]

His Excellency, then Under Secretary of External Affairs Allan Gotlieb, subsequently Ambassador to the US in the 1980s, said about Tom: "Over many years, Canada and the US typically emphasized the importance of resolving issues, or trying to, behind closed doors. Tom was, I believe, the first US Ambassador to Canada to speak so often and openly about our differences and the reasons for them. This sometimes gave rise to controversy, but he believed that a key part of his assignment was to contribute to a better public understanding of the relationship and issues between us. This sometimes got him into hot water with the Canadian government and senior officials, but he rightly saw this as a key part of his job. As a part of his practice of public diplomacy, he and Gaetana made the Ambassadorial residence a place of great excitement and for continuing debate and dialogue. The official residence became highly prized as a place to mix and mingle and debate. There was no more exciting place to be in Ottawa and probably Canada."[12]

Strengthening management of shared environments, as had been achieved since 1972 by the International Joint Commission for the Great Lakes, was a recurring aspiration for Tom.[13] At the time, the irritants were the Garrison Diversion project on the US side and the Saskatchewan Government's plan to build a thermal generating plant on the Poplar River near the border with Montana. In several speeches on environmental frictions, his message was "we must develop better ways of dealing with them to our mutual benefit and not to trade them off."[14]

Tom knew a lot about trade with Canada even before he arrived. He was closely involved in the Kennedy Round of trade negotiations in 1966 and 1967 as Special Assistant to Under Secretary for Political Affairs Walt Rostow. Reporting to Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Tom stated a "a very significant – in some ways brilliant - deal with Canada" had been reached "involving substantial cuts on $1.3-$1.4 billion on trade in each side".[15] The Kennedy Round was the first of the multilateral trade negotiations to build multilateral tariff cuts on the basis of a series of bilateral tariff deals that were then multilateralised to all GATT parties.

By 1977, Tom was [quote] "running around talking about free trade" [unquote][16] in Canada. In a key speech to the Conference Board of Canada, Tom said: "You're going to ask right off what two job-short economies can do for each other in the field of trade without making their problems worse. The answer is, of course, that you can get important net job creation – and a major assist in combatting inflation – by reciprocal reduction of trade barriers…"

On October 20, 1977, freer trade with the US became official Canadian policy and the third option was formally binned. Finance Minister Jean Chrétien's Economic and Fiscal Statement to the House of Commons indicated: "We need lower – not higher – trade barriers here and around the world if we are to build efficient manufacturing industries and increase our productivity."

Both Canada and the US were firmly focussed on concluding the Tokyo Round of multilateral trade negotiations (MTN) held by the GATT. The Tokyo Round was not going well, mainly because Japan and the European Economic Community were reluctant to cut tariffs in a period of economic recession. The US instead believed that multilateral trade liberalisation was urgently required to restart economic growth in all its major trading partners in the wake of the energy crisis.

On his own bat, Tom publicised a US tariff offer to reduce (but not eliminate) nuisance tariffs on processed raw materials which hindered Canadian exports to the US.[17] Tom thought an ambitious bilateral tariff cutting agreement with Canada might galvanise Japan and the European Economic Community to do the same. He also saw the multilateral route as being the only one for Canada and the US to advance in their common objective of removing trade barriers to the export of agricultural products, including distortive aid for grain exports to emerging markets.[18]

If the MTN route seemed superior to Tom, he was also keenly aware that a trade agreement might not "yield enough economic benefit to offset its political costs" and a North American energy market, would "arouse American expectations that cannot be met and stir up Canadian fears that are difficult to put to rest".[19] (CUSFTA and NAFTA are not common markets.)

Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs 1981-1983

In 1982 before a Senate committee on the El Mozote massacre in El Salvador, in which the Salvadoran Army killed more than 800 civilians[20] during the Salvadoran Civil War, Enders attacked New York Times correspondent Raymond Bonner and Washington Post correspondent Alma Guillermoprieto, who had reported on the massacre.[21] Enders stated that there had been a battle between guerrillas and the army but that "no evidence could be found to confirm that government forces systematically massacred civilians." Enders also repeated the claim that only 300 people had lived in Mozote, and it was impossible for the death toll to have reached that reported in the Times and Post stories.[22]

US Ambassador to Spain 1983-1986

Enders was appointed Ambassador to Spain in August 1983, having been forced out of his previous position by what Secretary of State George P. Shultz described as "hard liners" , led by NSC direction William "Judge" Clark and including William Casey,Ed Meese and others.[23] Shultz considered Enders a loyal, keenly analytic officer with a style that could irritate even those who supported him; he might be difficult, but he was a definite asset.[24] Shultz hoped that getting Enders away from the Central American crisis would make it easier for him to deal with the hard liners, as well as reduce the heat on Enders.[25] That proved not to be the case. Before leaving for Spain Enders chose Jack R. Binns, the former Ambassador to Honduras with whom he had clashed (see above), as his deputy in Madrid.

The principal issues concerning Enders in Spain were ensuring its continued membership in NATO, its entry into the then European Community (now EU) and the renewal of the U.S. mutual defense treaty with Spain, which provided strategically important air and naval basis for U.S. forces that would have expired in 1987. Enders quickly established excellent working relations with Socialist Party (PSOE) Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez and King Juan Carlos, both of whom supported continued membership in NATO and the EU initiative. NATO, however, was a serious problem. The PSOE officially opposed Spanish membership, as did a substantial majority of the Spanish public. To overcome this, Gonzalez would propose a national referendum, the outcome of which was in doubt.

A May 1985 State Visit of President Reagan turned out to be something of a diplomatic disaster. Initially the Gonzalez government was concerned about its timing, fearing that it would be seen as an effort to influence the NATO referendum and thus counter-productive. The situation was aggravated further by planning conflicts between the Spanish and our Secret Service advance team. But all this paled when, in late April, President Reagan decided to delay his arrival by two days to attend a ceremony in Germany, Bitburg, it turned out. The Spanish were livid, and they got even.

The day before President Reagan's arrival the morning media all reported that the CIA had earlier been caught attempting to tap into Prime Minister Gonzalez' secure telecommunications system. And they had. This precipitated major anti-U. S. demonstrations in Madrid and other major cities on the eve Reagan's arrival. Not surprisingly, Spanish authorities were able to control the situation, and there were no major protests during the visit itself.

If all this were not enough, was once again dealing with a "loyalty" issue. Several months earlier Shultz had advised Enders that the President had expressed concerns about his support of U. S. foreign policy, and Shultz sought to allay his concerns.[26] This time, however, the source was not the hard liners, but Mrs. Reagan. As a result, Enders made at least two trips to Washington for White House meetings. But they had not put the matter to rest. During the President's stay in Madrid, Enders met privately with him and left believing that the matter had been resolved.

Substantively the visit cleared the air on several bi-lateral issues, including Spains's insistence that as part of the price for Spain remaining in NATO would be giving up our Madrid Air Force Base, although the operational units could be moved elsewhere in the country. King Juan Carlos' gala State Dinner for the President at the Oriente Palace was a warm and friendly event that left all participants with a positive feeling

The question of Enders' loyalty resurfaced a few months later and was a continuing distraction to Shultz. He finally advised Enders that while he had full faith in his loyal service, it seemed inevitable that he would have to leave, offering another appointment, perhaps Australia. In late 1985 the NSC staff contacted the Embassy to report that Mrs. Reagan's office had request that McFarland agree to see the Countess of Romanones, and inquired as to her background. Based on the Embassy's information, McFarland declined the honor. A second, more pointed request caused him to agree to see her. Her purpose, it turned out, was to ask McFarland to put her name forward as a replacement for Enders.[27]

These events triggered an inquiry which revealed that for the past several years the Countess had been paying a columnist at ABC, the leading Madrid right-wing newspaper, to write articles highlighting Enders' good relations with the Gonzalez government and implying that he did not support the administration's foreign policy. These articles were clipped and, with translations, forwarded to friends of the Countess in New York who then passed them to Mrs. Reagan's office. While the Countess was never considered for the post to which she aspired, her efforts contributed greatly to his replacement in July 1986.

During Enders' final months the NATO referendum produced a solid majority in favor of continued NATO membership, a great victory for Gonzalez, and preliminary talks on the renewal of the U. S. bases agreement. It was finally approved in December 1988 and included the closure of our Madrid Air Force Base.

Enders Endowment

The Enders Endowment funds a graduate fellowship program as well as hosts a lecture series annually in Washington, DC for US-Canadian Relations. The Thomas and Gaetana Enders Fellowship has sought, in the past 15 years, to contribute to their legacy. It is a partnership with ACSUS and SAIS to advance academic research and fund travel of graduate students to Canada.[28]


  1. "Thomas Enders, Diplomat In Cold War, Is Dead at 64 - New York Times". 1996-03-18. Retrieved 2011-02-16.
  2. Dr Kissinger devotes pages 347 and 348 of his three-volume memoirs Years of Upheaval to the role played by Tom Enders in the US response to the energy crisis
  3. The IEP was in fact modelled on an agreement reached by the US and Canada in 1973 to share third-country supplies in the event of an emergency: Canada undertook to keep supplies going to the Midwest of the US rather than divert supplies to Eastern Canada, which the US in turn undertook to supply, in what must have been the first official recognition of the higher efficiency of North-South trade over West-East. Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969-1976, Vol. XXXVI, Document 168, "Memorandum from Robert D. Hormats and Helmut Sonnenfeld of the National Security Council to the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)", March 2, 1973.
  4. Members agreed to reduce their dependence on imported oil through domestic energy policies, and to 'equal hardship' in the event of a new embargo, sharing supplies. Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969-1976, Volume XXXVII, Energy Crisis, 1974-1980, Document 20, "Editorial note" notes the IEA was established on November 15, 1974 by the OECD Council, and the first meeting of the Governing Board of the IEA took place on November 18–19, 1974.
  5. Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975. The Act introduced a ban on exports of US domestic crude oil. Exceptions include Alaskan oil exported to Canada and consumed there.
  6. The alternative trans-Canadian route, although more efficient, "was rejected for environmental reasons, because of the potentially negative impact of such negotiations on U.S.-Canadian relations, and to avoid placing a large portion of the pipeline under the jurisdiction of another country" (Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969-1976, Volume XXXVI, Document 121, "Editorial note"). In 1977, Canada was considering making available an overland leg for the Natural Gas Pipeline of Alaska in preference to All-Alaskan (sea) routes.
  7. The Haida Nation remains concerned with the shipment of crude oil in its vicinity.
  8. See also "Canada/US Electricity Exchanges Study", conversation with Minister Gillespie, 15 November 1976; "Ontario Ministry Presentation to Coal Conference Uses Ambassador Enders' remarks on US coal sourcing", 30 September 1976.
  9. The Globe and Mail, Nov 6, 1976.
  10. The idea "that we should make decisions on investments, jobs, resources, water and so forth, as if the border wasn't there, letting benefits and costs be distributed by private decisions without reference to national interests." The Globe and Mail, November 10, 1976.
  11. The Globe and Mail, March 25, 1976.
  12. Email exchanges in 2014.
  13. Conference Board of Canada, "US-Canadian Relations, 9 November 1976, where Tom "suggested that it would be a help to handle disputes involving coastal waters, dam regulations and allotments in a way analogous to the International Joint Commission [for the Great Lakes]".
  14. Speech in Vancouver on 2 September 1976, text of editorial In Vancouver Sun of 4 October 1976 cited in telegram.
  15. Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, Volume VII, International Monetary and Trade Policy, Document 361, "Memorandum from the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs' Special Assistant (Enders) to Secretary of State Rusk", May 16, 1967.
  16. Vancouver Sun, December 13, 1977.
  17. Toronto Star, September 23, 1977.
  18. Speech to Canadian Export Association, The Globe and Mail, October 19, 1976.
  19. The Globe and Mail, June 30, 1979.
  20. Ian Urbina (March 8, 2005). "O.A.S. to Reopen Inquiry Into Massacre in El Salvador in 1981". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 4, 2012. Retrieved November 4, 2012.
  21. Raymond Bonner (January 27, 1982). "Massacre of Hundreds Reported In Salvador Village". The New York Times. Retrieved November 4, 2012.(subscription required)
  22. Stanley Meisler. "El Mozote Case Study". Columbia School of Journalism. Archived from the original on November 4, 2012. Retrieved November 4, 2012.
  23. Turmoil and Triumph: My Years as Secretary of State, George P. Shultz, pp. 288–305.
  24. Turmoil and Triumph: My Years as Secretary of State, George P. Shultz, pp. 290, 298.
  25. Turmoil and Triumph: My Years as Secretary of State, George P. Shultz, pp. 304–306.
  26. DCM Jack R. Binns, who was the first to tell Enders of the problem, based on a phone call from Shultz personal assistant, Raymond G. H. Seitz.
  27. Binns received this information from Peter Sommers of McFarland's staff and relayed it to Enders.
  28. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-11-29. Retrieved 2014-11-17.


Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
William J. Porter
United States Ambassador to Canada
February 17, 1976 December 14, 1979
Succeeded by
Kenneth M. Curtis
Preceded by
Deane R. Hinton
United States Ambassador to the European Communities
1979 1981
Succeeded by
George S. Vest
Preceded by
Terence Todman
United States Ambassador to Spain
September 15, 1983 July 6, 1986
Succeeded by
Reginald Bartholomew
Government offices
Preceded by
William G. Bowdler
Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs
June 23, 1981 June 27, 1983
Succeeded by
Langhorne A. Motley
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