Robert Kagan

Former Senior Associate
Kagan, author of the recent book, The Return of History and the End of Dreams (Knopf 2008), writes a monthly column on world affairs for the Washington Post and is a contributing editor at both the Weekly Standard and the New Republic.


B.A., Yale University; M.P.P., John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; Ph.D., American University



Robert Kagan is no longer with the Carnegie Endowment.

Robert Kagan was a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. His most recent book is The Return of History and the End of Dreams (Knopf 2008). His previous book, Dangerous Nation: America’s Place in the World from its Earliest Days to the Dawn of the 20th Century, (Knopf 2006) was the winner of the 2008 Lepgold Prize and a 2007 Finalist for the Lionel Gelber Prize. His acclaimed book Of Paradise and Power (Knopf, 2003), was a New York Times bestseller, a bestseller in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, and Canada, and has been translated into more than 25 languages.

Dr. Kagan is also adjunct professor of history at Georgetown University, writes a monthly column on world affairs for the Washington Post, and is a contributing editor at both the Weekly Standard and the New Republic. He has been repeatedly named as one of the world’s “Top 100 Global Thinkers” by Foreign Policy magazine. He served in the State Department from 1984 to 1988 as a member of the Policy Planning Staff, as principal speechwriter for Secretary of State George P. Shultz, and as deputy for policy in the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs. He is a graduate of Yale University and Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and holds a Ph.D. in American History from American University.

He is also author of A Twilight Struggle: American Power and Nicaragua, 1977-1990 (Free Press, 1996), and is co-editor with William Kristol of Present Dangers: Crisis and Opportunity in American Foreign Policy (Encounter Books, June 2000.) He was born in Athens, Greece, in 1958.

  • Obama's Briefing on Iran: It's About Pressure, Not
    Op-Ed The Washington Post August 6, 2010
    Obama's Briefing on Iran: It's About Pressure, Not Diplomacy

    When President Obama and his top national security staff briefed journalists this week on Washington's strategy toward Iran's nuclear program, he was making the case that the administration's approach for isolating Iran is working.

  • New START: Too Modest to Merit Partisan Bickering
    Op-Ed The Washington Post July 30, 2010
    New START: Too Modest to Merit Partisan Bickering

    The New START is relatively modest in scope and should not be used as a stand-in for an ideological contest over arms control and nonproliferation.

  • Obama's 5 Foreign-Policy Victories
    Op-Ed The Washington Post June 29, 2010
    Obama's 5 Foreign-Policy Victories

    In the month of June, the Obama administration achieved a number of foreign policy successes regarding Afghanistan, Iran, Japan, South Korea, and Russia.

  • Obama Needs to Support Egyptians as Well as Mubara
    Op-Ed The Washington Post June 4, 2010
    Obama Needs to Support Egyptians as Well as Mubarak

    Obama's Cairo speech had the admirable goal of improving relations with the Muslim world, but the administration has focused almost exclusively on building bridges with leaders and governments rather than supporting political and human rights.

  • A Hollow 'Reset' With Russia
    Op-Ed The Washington Post May 25, 2010
    A Hollow 'Reset' With Russia

    Russia’s engagement with the United States on Iran’s nuclear ambitions has not changed significantly since 2007, in spite of the Obama administration’s emphasis on the success of the ‘reset.’

  • George H.W. Obama?
    Op-Ed Foreign Policy April 14, 2010
    George H.W. Obama?

    While some have taken to calling President Obama a realist, his goal of global nuclear disarmament is nothing if not idealistic.

  • Testimony AIPAC Policy Conference March 21, 2010
    Challenging Times

    The Obama administration has focused much of its diplomatic energy towards engaging with the Iranian regime. This effort has limited its level of engagement with both the Iranian opposition and U.S. European partners.

  • Allies Everywhere Feeling Snubbed by President Oba
    Op-Ed The Washington Post March 17, 2010
    Allies Everywhere Feeling Snubbed by President Obama

    Rather than expending energy solidifying relations with long term allies, the Obama administration has focused its foreign policy efforts on improving relations with its competitors and adversaries.

  • In Colombia, Democracy is Stirred But Not Shaken
    Op-Ed The Washington Post March 9, 2010
    In Colombia, Democracy is Stirred But Not Shaken

    The recent Colombian court decision to preserve a two-term limit for the presidency is a triumph for democracy in a region where hyper-presidencies are becoming more common.

  • On Foreign Policy, Obama and the GOP Find Room for
    Op-Ed The Washington Post March 5, 2010
    On Foreign Policy, Obama and the GOP Find Room for Agreement

    In spite of the general perception that partisanship is dividing the U.S. government, a broad bipartisan consensus is emerging on issues of foreign policy, particularly towards Afghansitan, Iraq, and Iran.

  • The Rise of China
    Encounter Books May 29, 2009
    The Rise of China: Essays on the Future Competition

    Chinese leaders view the international community as fundamentally defined by antagonism; an outlook that is unlikely to change until and unless the regime changes.

  • The Return of History
    Knopf April 30, 2008
    The Return of History and the End of Dreams

    The world remains “unipolar,” but international competition among the United States, Russia, China, Europe, Japan, India, and Iran raise new threats of regional conflict. Communism is dead, but a new contest between western liberalism and the great eastern autocracies of Russia and China has reinjected ideology into geopolitics.

  • Dangerous Nation
    Vintage November 6, 2007
    Dangerous Nation: America's Place in the World from its Earliest Days to the Dawn of the 20th Century

    Robert Kagan strips away the myth of America’s isolationist tradition and reveals a more complicated reality: that Americans have been increasing their global power and influence steadily for the past four centuries. Even before the nation’s birth, Americans believed they were destined for global leadership. Underlying their ambitions was a set of ideas and ideals about the world and human nature.

  • Of Paradise and Power
    Knopf Publishers February 6, 2003
    Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order

    Europe sees the U.S. as high-handed, unilateralist, and unnecessarily belligerent; the U.S. sees Europe as spent, unserious and weak. The anger and mistrust on both sides are hardening into incomprehension.

  • Robert Kagan
    CNN April 19, 2010
    A Roundtable Discussion on Obama's Foreign Policy Objectives

    As his term continues, President Obama is finding himself increasingly aligned with Bush's foreign policy at the end of 2008.

  • March 25, 2010
    Foreign Policy in Context: The Latest on Israel, Iran, and China

    In spite of discussions highlighting the intense partisanship of U.S. politics, there is a strong bipartisan consensus on the key issues of U.S. foreign policy, including Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran.

  • Robert Kagan
    CBS News March 5, 2010
    What If Washington is NOT Broken?

    On the largest and most potentially controversial issues of foreign policy, Democrats and Republicans are more aligned than ever in recent memory.

  • NPR's Talk of the Nation January 27, 2010
    Seizing The Moment For Reform In Iran

    As thousands of Iranians continue to take to the streets in protest, President Obama is presented with an opportunity to help support transformational democratic change within Iran.

  • Bob Kagan
    Charlie Rose June 19, 2009
    U.S. Response to the Crisis in Iran

    Violence in the aftermath of Iran’s election has raised questions about the future of the regime, and about the way the Obama administration should respond to this controversial situation.

  • Kagan discusses Guantanamo, Iran, and Hamas. January 15, 2009
    Obama's Foreign Policy Options

    Though Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton laid out some basic policy positions in her confirmation hearings – the Obama administration will engage directly with Iran and will close Guantanamo, for example – the details of how the administration will pursue these objectives remain unclear.

  • BBC's World News America December 3, 2008
    Can Pakistan Stop Militants?

    Pakistan may be forfeiting its sovereignty if it is incapable of cracking down on militants like those that launched the recent Mumbai attacks. As it appears increasingly unlikely that the Pakistani civilian government will be able to crack down effectively, the international community should intervene to protect Pakistan’s neighbors from the threat posed by Pakistani-based terrorists.

  • November 25, 2008
    Precedent-Setting Edition

    The presidential transition has raised a variety of questions regarding the future of U.S. foreign policy. In an Bloggingheads debate with Robert Wright of the New America Foundation, Robert Kagan expressed his views and reaffirmed his belief that the power of nations—rather than international legal principles—must still play the defining role in shaping international relations.

  • November 5, 2008
    A Defining Moment In American History

    In addition to being a turning point for American society, Barack Obama’s election as president also brings the country great opportunity on the global stage. Joining three other historians to discuss the recent election, Robert Kagan highlights Obama’s popularity abroad and expresses hope that the president-elect can use this to his advantage in the foreign policy realm.

  • NPR's On Point with Tom Ashbrook August 11, 2008
    Russia and Georgia at War

    As Russian forces move deeper into Georgia, it is clear that despite questions over who started the conflict Russia’s ambitions are far larger than attaining the two Georgian separatist regions- South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

  • Lilia Shevtsova and James Collins
    September 10, 2010 Washington, D.C. Русский
    Book Launch: Lilia Shevtsova’s Lonely Power

    Russia’s current push for economic modernization coincides with growing political activism and concerns, both among domestic groups and in the West, about the absence of political liberalization.

  • August 30, 2010 Washington, D.C.
    Palestinian-Israeli Direct Talks and Egypt

    In advance of President Obama's meetings with Egypt's Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah II and the Palestinian–Israeli direct talks, Carnegie experts previewed expectations for the talks and discussed Mubarak’s visit as the country approaches critical parliamentary elections this fall.

  • January 25, 2010 Washington, D.C.
    The United States, Russia, and the Future World Order

    The administration of President Barack Obama sees the repair of the U.S. relationship with Russia as a major foreign policy objective, and has spent its first year ambitiously attempting to reset relations and place them on a more positive footing.

  • January 14, 2010 Washington, D.C.
    BBC Live at Carnegie: Obama’s Foreign Policy—One Year On

    In a special live broadcast of the BBC’s prestigious The World Tonight, leading foreign policy experts assess President Obama's first year in office and the chief challenges that lie ahead: strengthening the nonproliferation regime, climate change, the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, Iran, and Afghanistan.

  • former Secretary of State George Shultz
    October 26, 2009 Washington, D.C.
    Salon Luncheon with Former Secretary of State George Shultz

    Former Secretary of State George Shultz discussed his views on global disarmament, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the question of America's decline, and the future direction of American foreign policy.

  • March 3, 2009 Washington, D.C.
    Democracy Promotion Under Obama

    The Obama administration must disassociate the United States from the damaging elements of the Bush legacy on democracy promotion without embracing an overly pessimistic view of democratic decline.

  • Obama
    January 21, 2009 London
    The Reality of Hope—Obama and Europe after the Inauguration

    Robert Kagan led a public discussion on the future of the transatlantic relationship under an Obama administration and its capability to address global challenges.

  • December 18, 2008 Washington, D.C.
    BBC Live at Carnegie: Foreign Policy For Obama

    In a special live broadcast of the BBC’s The World Tonight program, Carnegie experts assessed the foreign policy priorities facing President-elect Barack Obama. The wide-ranging discussion focused on issues from Iraq, climate change, and the Middle East peace process, to Russia and Iran.

  • Post-Bush America and the World
    October 2, 2008 Brussels
    Post-Bush America and the World: Can the Gap be Closed?

    Expectations are running high for major changes in the next U.S. administration's foreign policy, but how much change is likely, and will it be enough to close the gap between America and the world? Top experts from the Carnegie Endowment and elsewhere discussed this question during a two-day conference in Brussels.

  • Robert Kagan and David Brooks
    May 14, 2008 Washington, D.C.
    The Return of History and the End of Dreams

    Robert Kagan and The New York Times’ David Brooks discussed Kagan’s new book The Return of History and the End of Dreams.

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