Robert Kagan is a senior fellow with the Project on International Order and Strategy in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution. He is a contributing columnist at The Washington Post and was recently listed as one of the 50 most influential thinkers in America by Politico magazine. His most recent book is The New York Times bestseller, The World America Made (Knopf, 2012) His previous books include The Return of History and the End of Dreams (Knopf 2008), Dangerous Nation: America’s Place in the World from its Earliest Days to the Dawn of the 20th Century (Knopf, 2006), Of Paradise and Power (Knopf, 2003), and A Twilight Struggle: American Power and Nicaragua, 1977-1990 (Free Press, 1996).

Kagan serves as a member of the secretary of state’s foreign affairs policy board. 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 doctorate in American history from American University.

Dr. Kagan is listed as one of the world's "Top 100 Public Intellectuals" by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines. He is one of Foreign Policy's 2012 Top 100 Global Thinkers. Kagan was #4 of the 50 Most Powerful Republicans on foreign policy by Foreign Policy magazine. He writes a monthly column in The Washington Post and is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard.


  • Senior Fellow of Foreign Policy, Project on International Order and Strategy, Brookings Institution
  • Chairman, World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on the United States
  • Founded, The Working Group on Egypt
  • Foreign Policy’s Top 100 Global Thinkers 2012 and 2009
  • Top 100 Public Intellectuals, Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines
  • Former senior associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; director of the Endowment’s U.S. Leadership Project
  • Member, Council on Foreign Relations
  • Monthly columnist, Washington Post
  • Contributing editor, The Weekly Standard and The New Republic
  • Policy positions in the U.S. Department of State
  • Recipient, Lepgold Prize in International Relations, Georgetown University
  • Member, the Aspen Strategy Group
  • Member, the Trilateral Commission
  • Board of directors, U.S. Committee on NATO
  • Ph.D., American University
  • M.P.P., John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
  • B.A., Yale University

Areas of Expertise:
Kagan is an expert on democracy, human rights, U.S. national security and foreign policy, U.S. relations with Russia, China and Europe, the European Union, NATO expansion, the Balkans, Eastern Europe, and Iraq, and the use of force.


These are topics that have proven valuable to customers in the past and are meant only to suggest the speakers range and interests.

Robert tailors each presentation to the needs of his audience and is not limited to the topics we have listed below. Please ask us about any subject that interests you; we are sure that we can accommodate you.

Is fascism coming to America? The threat posed by Donald Trump to American democracy.

What would a Trump presidency mean for the future of American foreign policy.

Russia and the West

China and the International order: Rising powers and the risk of war

The future of transatlantic relations after Brexit

What do Brexit and Trump tell us about the state of the world?

The future of middle east and terrorism

Combatting terrorism: a transatlantic solution

The immigration challenge: Europe and the United States

The coming world disorder

Syria and world order: the challenge to the West

Dangerous Nation

A discussion of America’s place in the world, past and present. In 1817 America’s minister in London, John Quincy Adams, reported that “The universal feeling of Europe in witnessing the gigantic growth of our population and power is that we shall, if united, became a very dangerous member of the society of nations.... They therefore hope what they confidently expect, that we shall not long remain united.”

Most Americans today would be surprised to know that their nation, even in its infancy, was regarded as a very dangerous nation by most of the rest of the world. Americans have long cherished an image of themselves as by nature inward-looking and aloof, only sporadically and spasmodically venturing forth into the world, usually in response to external attack or perceived threats. This self-image survives despite 400 years of expansion and an ever-deepening involvement in world affairs, and despite innumerable wars, interventions, and prolonged occupations in foreign lands. It is as if it was all an accident or an odd twist of fate. Even as the United States has steadily risen to a position of global hegemony, expanding its reach and purview and involvement across the continent and then across the oceans, Americans still believe their nation’s natural tendencies are toward passivity, indifference, and insularity.

This lack of self-awareness has had its virtues. A nation so unaware of its own behavior may seem less threatening than a nation with a plan of expansion and conquest. But it has also been a problem. Americans have often not realized how their naturally expansive tendencies — political, ideological, economic, strategic, and cultural — bump up against and intrude upon other peoples and cultures. They have not anticipated, therefore, the way their expansiveness could provoke reactions, and sometimes violent reactions against them.

And not only have Americans frequently failed to see how their actions could provoke reactions from others. They have not even accurately predicted their own responses. The history of America has been one of repeated surprises, not only at the behavior of others, but at the behavior of the United States in response to the actions of others. Most Americans have believed they did not care what happened in most of the rest of the world, and yet when events occurred, they found that they did care.

The Middle East

Is Arab democracy a threat to Israel? The idea of an Egypt governed by the Muslim Brotherhood sends shivers down spines. Israelis and supporters of Israel in the United States generally agree that the ferment in the Arab world has been a major setback to Israel's interests and look back with some nostalgia to the good old days of Arab dictatorship. But is this assessment correct? All the wars Israel has ever fought in its difficult history have been against Arab dictatorships, not Arab democracies. Today the greatest threat Israel faces is from the theocratic dictatorship of Iran. Would a democratic Egypt, even dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, be more likely to make war on Israel? It seems unlikely, especially with all the immense difficulties Egypt faces both politically and economically. And if a democratic, Muslim Brotherhood-led Egyptian government does preserve peace with Israel, this would be a breakthrough. It would mean that for the first time, a popular Arab government, reflecting the views of Islamists, chose peace and co-existence with Israel over confrontation — in which case the Arab revolutions might turn out to be a blessing for Israel rather than a curse.

The Return of History

Hopes for a new peaceful international order after the end of the Cold War have been dashed by sobering realities: Great powers are once again competing for honor and influence. The world remains "unipolar," but international competition among the United States, Russia, China, Europe, Japan, India, and Iran raises new threats of regional conflict, and a new contest between western liberalism and the great eastern autocracies of Russia and China has reinjected ideology into geopolitics.

How we in the democracies understand and cope with these challenges will shape our future for better or for ill.

  • Has Obama Made the World a More Dangerous Place?

    The Munk Debate on U.S. Foreign Policy

    Bret Stephens, Robert Kagan, Anne-Marie Slaughter, and Fareed Zakaria

    From Ukraine to the Middle East to China, the United States is redefining its role in international affairs. Alliance building, public diplomacy, and eschewing traditional warfare in favor of the focused use of hard power such as drones and special forces are all hallmarks of the so-called Obama Doctrine. Is this a farsighted foreign policy for the United States and the world in the twenty-first century — one that acknowledges and embraces the increasing diffusion of power among states and non-state actors? Or, is an America “leading from behind” a boon for the nations and blocs who want to roll back economic globalization, international law, and the spread of democracy and human rights?

    In this edition of the 14th semi-annual Munk Debates, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Bret Stephens and famed historian and foreign policy commentator Robert Kagan square off against CNN’s Fareed Zakaria and noted academic and political commentator Anne-Marie Slaughter. With ISIS looking to reshape the Middle East, Russia increasingly at odds with the rest of the West, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at a standstill, the Munk Debate on U.S. Foreign Policy asks: Has Obama’s foreign policy taken the U.S. in the right direction?

    House of Anansi Press (11 Aug. 2015)

  • The Return of History and the End of Dreams

    Hopes for a new peaceful international order after the end of the Cold War have been dashed by sobering realities: Great powers are once again competing for honor and influence. Nation-states remain as strong as ever, as do the old, explosive forces of ambitious nationalism. 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. Finally, radical Islamists are waging a violent struggle against the modern secular cultures and powers that, in their view, have dominated, penetrated, and polluted their Islamic world. The grand expectation that after the Cold War the world would enter an era of international geopolitical convergence has proven wrong.

    For the past few years, the liberal world has been internally divided and distracted by issues both profound and petty. Now, in The Return of History and the End of Dreams, Robert Kagan masterfully poses the most important questions facing the liberal democratic countries, challenging them to choose whether they want to shape history or let others shape it for them.

    Atlantic Books (1 Mar 2009)
    Atlantic Books (1 May 2008)


    The End of the End of HistoryThe Claremont Institute
    Democracy, LimitedThe New York Times
    The Return of History & the End of DreamsReal Clear Politics
    Not the end of history after allBBC News
    The empires strike backThe Economist

  • Dangerous Nation

    America’s Place in the World from Its Earliest Days to the Dawn of the Twentieth Century

    From the author of the immensely influential and best-selling Of Paradise and Power — a major reevaluation of America’s place in the world from the colonial era to the turn of the twentieth 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 from the time of the Puritans, he reveals, America was no shining “city up on a hill” but an engine of commercial and territorial expansion that drove Native Americans, as well as French, Spanish, Russian, and ultimately even British power, from the North American continent. Even before the birth of the nation, Americans believed they were destined for global leadership. Underlying their ambitions, Kagan argues, was a set of ideas and ideals about the world and human nature. He focuses on the Declaration of Independence as the document that firmly established the American conviction that the inalienable rights of all mankind transcended territorial borders and blood ties. American nationalism, he shows, was always internationalist at its core. He also makes a startling discovery: that the Civil War and the abolition of slavery — the fulfillment of the ideals of the Declaration — were the decisive turning point in the history of American foreign policy as well. Kagan's brilliant and comprehensive reexamination of early American foreign policy makes clear why America, from its very beginning, has been viewed worldwide not only as a wellspring of political, cultural, and social revolution, but as an ambitious and, at times, dangerous nation.

    Vintage Books USA; Reprint edition (6 Nov 2007)

  • Of Paradise and Power

    America and Europe in the New World Order

    "At a time when relations between the United States and Europe are at their lowest ebb since World War II, this brief but cogent book is essential reading. Robert Kagan, a leading scholar of American foreign policy, forces both sides to see themselves through the eyes of the other. Europe, he argues, has moved beyond power into a self-contained world of laws, rules, and negotiation, while American operates in a "Hobbesian" world in which rules and laws are unreliable and military force is often necessary." Tracing how this state of affairs came into being over the past fifty years and exploring its ramifications for the future, Kagan reveals the shape of the new transatlantic relationship.

    Atlantic Books; New edition edition (11 Mar 2004)

  • The World America Made

    The Global Thinkers Book ClubForeign Policy

    What would the world look like if America were to reduce its role as a global leader in order to focus all its energies on solving its problems at home? And is America really in decline? Robert Kagan, New York Times best-selling author and one of the country’s most influential strategic thinkers, paints a vivid, alarming picture of what the world might look like if the United States were truly to let its influence wane. Although Kagan asserts that much of the current pessimism is misplaced, he warns that if America were indeed to commit “preemptive superpower suicide,” the world would see the return of war among rising nations as they jostle for power; the retreat of democracy around the world as Vladimir Putin’s Russia and authoritarian China acquire more clout; and the weakening of the global free-market economy, which the United States created and has supported for more than sixty years. We’ve seen this before — in the breakdown of the Roman Empire and the collapse of the European order in World War I.

    Potent, incisive, and engaging, The World America Made is a reminder that the American world order is worth preserving, and America dare not decline.

    Vintage Books (20 Feb 2013)


    The Big BangThe New York Times

  • Populism, Demagogues, and Constitutional Democracy | National Constitution Center

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