The Atlantic

10 American Foreign-Policy Luminaries Who Died in 2016

From chroniclers of war to a revered spy to a conscientious objector, a look back
Source: Bettmann / Getty

The end of the year is a time for taking stock, counting successes, and assessing failures. It is also a time for remembering those who are no longer with us. Here are 10 Americans who died in 2016 who, through their vision, service, intellect, or courage, helped shape U.S. foreign policy. They will be missed.

Muhammad Ali (b. 1942) was an all-time boxing great and one of the most influential athletes of the twentieth century, in good part because he risked his career for his beliefs. Born in Louisville, Kentucky, as Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., Ali won the Olympic light-heavyweight title in Rome in 1960. Less than four years later, he won the world heavyweight title by beating a heavily favored Sonny Liston. The day after the fight, Clay announced that he had become a member of the Nation of Islam. Within weeks he changed his name to Muhammad Ali, though most journalists continued to call him Cassius Clay. In 1967, Ali’s request to be granted conscientious objector status was rejected. When he refused induction into the U.S. Army, he was convicted of draft evasion and sentenced to five years in prison. He appealed his conviction, which the Supreme Court overturned in 1971. While Ali never served prison time, he was stripped of his heavyweight title during the prime of his career and barred from boxing for more than three years. After he returned to the ring, he went on to win the world heavyweight title twice more. Parkinson’s disease eventually robbed Ali of his physical grace and oratorical skills. In 1996, the man once pilloried for converting to Islam and refusing to be drafted was enthusiastically cheered as he lit the flame at the opening of the centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta.

Doris Bohrer (b. 1923) was a spy for the United States during World War II. Born Doris Sharrar in Basin, Wyoming, she grew up mostly in Silver Spring, Maryland, dreaming of being a pilot. In 1942, she joined the

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic5 min readPsychology
The Widespread Suspicion of Opposite-Sex Friendships
In 1989, When Harry Met Sally posed a question that other pop-cultural entities have been trying to answer ever since: Can straight men and women really be close friends without their partnership turning into something else? (According to The Office,
The Atlantic6 min readPolitics
The Last Days of the Other 1 Percent
Next week’s deadline to qualify for the third Democratic debate could leave half of the large field of candidates on the sidelines.
The Atlantic9 min readPolitics
Only the Right Can Defeat White Nationalism
Law-enforcement agencies can arrest terrorists, but they cannot settle existential arguments about the nature of American democracy.