March 15, 2000
Michael Ivan Austrian, 58; State Department Spokesman
Michael Ivan Austrian, 58, former State Department spokesman for the Middle East who had served as political counselor in Ankara, Turkey, and in other posts, died of lung cancer March 15 at Georgetown Hospital. He lived in Washington.
Mr. Austrian was the State Department’s representative to the US military team that enforced the cease-fire in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq after the Persian Gulf War. In 1988, during his second posting to Turkey, he was one of the first to verify Iraq’s use of chemical weapons against its own citizens.
He was a native of New York and a graduate of Lehigh University and the National War College. He did graduate work in Middle Eastern politics at Princeton University and Australian National University.
Mr. Austrian first lived in Turkey as a Peace Corps volunteer. He was a recruiter in Washington for the Peace Corps before joining the Foreign Service in 1967. Later in his career, he was the State Department senior liaison to the Central Intelligence Agency, Afghan desk officer, and a congressional fellow.
Mr. Austrian was a member of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Washington, Middle East Institute, American Foreign Service Association and Diplomatic and Consular Officers Retired (DACOR).
Survivors include his wife of 37 years, Sheila Austrian of Washington; two daughters, both Foreign Service officers, Courtney E. Austrian, assigned to Damascus, Syria, and Jennifer A. Post, assigned to London; his brother, Neil Austrian, former president of the National Football League, of Old Greenwich Conn.; and a granddaughter.
—From the Washington Post, March 18, 2000