David Ignatius

Washington Post columnist | Bestselling Author
Washington Post columnist David Ignatius is one of America’s preeminent foreign affairs writers. He has covered politics, economics, the Middle East, and the secret world of intelligence and the CIA for nearly four decades. An NBC analyst and regular guest on Morning Joe, he also writes best selling spy thrillers, including Body of Lies, The Increment, and The Quantum Spy. It has been said that “few people understand espionage culture as well as Ignatius.” The New York Times described him as one of “the wise men of Washington.”

Drawing from more than 40 years of on-the-ground reporting, Ignatius brings to the stage his insights and expertise on the threats to national security, cyberwar, AI and the spread of information. With his ability to explain and edify the most complex issues, Ignatius addresses the forces at play in an increasingly disrupted world and analyzes the implications of growing uncertainty and risk.

For more than 15 years, Ignatius has published his twice-weekly column for The Washington Post. Appearing in scores of newspapers around the world, his column has won the Overseas Press Club Award, the Gerald Loeb Award for Commentary, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Center for Journalists. In 2019, Ignatius won a special George Polk award for his coverage, nine articles in all, of the killing of Post columnist and his colleague Jamal Khashoggi.

Turning his experiences with the CIA into 11 spy novels, Ignatius has been praised for his “unparalleled understanding of the intelligence world.” According to former CIA Director Leon Panetta, “David Ignatius may call it a novel, but for those of us who know the work of the intelligence community, this book is nothing less than a real-life insight into the ongoing battle for dominance in the digital world." Agents of Innocence, his first novel, is a classic of espionage fiction, drawing on his experiences covering the CIA’s early-80s campaigns in the Middle East. The CIA recommends the book to young recruits and wrote on its website, “Though a novel, senior officers say this book is not fiction.” His other bestsellers include The Director and Body of Lies, which director Ridley Scott adapted into a feature film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe.

During the summer of 2023, he released a 4-part serialized novella titled "The Tao of Deception" in the Washington Post's Opinion Section. "The Tao of Deception" is another spy thriller that very closely mirrors reality, telling a story of the CIA's loss of Chinese intelligence assets over a decade ago. "While this isn’t a piece of journalism or a historical account, it will paint the battle between the CIA and the Chinese Ministry of State Security in true colors,” said Ignatius. His next book, Phantom Orbit is expected next spring.

A graduate of Harvard and Cambridge, Ignatius was a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and the executive editor of the International Herald Tribune. He has published articles in Foreign Affairs, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, and The New Republic. His first opera libretto, The New Prince, was an adaptation of Machiavelli’s The Prince and premiered at the Dutch National Opera in 2017.

Topics

New World Disorder: Snapshots from a Journalist's Notebook

A globetrotting, on-the-ground journalist, David Ignatius has been making sense of the world for over 40 years. With his unique ability to access the CIA, the Pentagon, the NSA, and Capitol Hill, Ignatius gives his readers a rare look at the world rarely covered by the evening news and takes them inside the stories and issues shaping the world. In this discussion, Ignatius draws from his long career in journalism to reflect on the current state of the world and shares his view on how we got to where we are, and where we may be headed. With the growing distrust of governments and institutions worldwide, Ignatius makes a case for the increasing importance of fact-based reporting, especially as the changing nature of journalism the overall spread of information is jeopardizing the truth. Ignatius will also touch upon the most controversial stories he’s covered recently, such as the gruesome murder of his colleague and friend, Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, and what the implications of his death mean for ties between U.S. intelligence agencies and foreign governments, bringing to light a covert, worldwide information war.

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Journalistic Integrity: Rules for Collecting, Analyzing, and Using Information

Collecting intelligence is a truly dirty business. Whether at home or abroad, the rules are never the same and protocol is never quite clear. According to foreign affairs columnist David Ignatius, in the investigative world, integrity is almost entirely up to the reporter. In column after column, Ignatius reframes our view of the world and redefines what it means to be a journalist, from the 1983 Beirut embassy bombing to his award-winning investigative work of the death of his colleague Jamal Khashoggi. In this speech, Ignatius shares the hard-earned tips and rules he has formed from more than 40 years of reporting, including the long process of building relationships with potential sources, the importance of travel to acquire information firsthand, and maintaining objectivity to avoid becoming a partisan voice. With his keen ability to make sense of and explain the complex forces shaping the world, Ignatius also reflects on how he has learned as much about acquiring information from writing novels as writing foreign affairs columns, as he travels to every place referenced in his fiction and speaks to the locals and the experts to gain as much information as he can.

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Cybergeddon: Fact, Fiction, and the Future of Warfare

As a new age of warfare dawns, with artificial intelligence and other forms of high-tech conflict as the primary mode of combat, it’s easy to miss this inflection point: Foreign adversaries have repeatedly conspired to undermine the American political system and the U.S. responded, after several false starts, with an overt effort against a covert enemy. As the Pentagon continues to play catch-up in a rapidly evolving battlefield, it must also learn how to work with Silicon Valley and the global tech giants who pay fealty to no single state. According to David Ignatius, Washington Post foreign affairs columnist and author of ten spy novels, including The Quantum Spy about the arms race of super computers; now that the battle has been joined, the world we live in will be a contested information space with no clear enemy, target, or goal. Drawing from his coverage of the global charge toward technological dominance, Ignatius presents a sophisticated game of cat-and-mouse where the winners own the future of warfare and security and the losers forfeit everything, including their privacy and economic stability. With his wide-ranging knowledge of the CIA, national security, and policy, Ignatius delivers an in-depth account of what’s at stake and poses possible outcomes and solutions. He dispels common myths about the future of cyber and highlights the legitimate dangers, the future of 5g, and the hyper-fast quantum computer which he says is the digital equivalent of a nuclear bomb. As Ignatius wrote in The Quantum Spy, “In a world where everything is written in zeroes and ones, nothing can be trusted.”

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Assessing Risk in a Disrupted World

We are at a global inflection point and a new economic and political order has disrupted the world and the risks for the United States and its allies are increasing. As the U.S. wanes from an era of unparalleled economic growth it is entering another structure whose rules and rewards aren’t yet clear. And in an economy where confidence leads to investment — and political instability undermines confidence, there is a likelihood that burgeoning political instability across the world will slow down investment and economic growth. The next five years will see rising tensions within and between countries. In this speech, David Ignatius draws from over 40 years of on-the-ground reporting on foreign affairs, Capitol Hill, global politics, and economics to address the forces at play in a disrupted world, and analyze the implications of growing uncertainty and risk.

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Videos

David Ignatius on his new spy thriller ‘The Tao of Deception’
David Ignatius
David Ignatius Live Q&A: 2020 National Book Festival
David Ignatius
Secretary Blinken's moderated conversation with Washington Post columnist David Ignatius
David Ignatius
Diane Rehm Book Club: A Conversation With David Ignatius
David Ignatius

Articles

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In fight over satellite array, tiny Liechtenstein roars back at China
The Washington Post
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Gen. Milley's resignation leaves behind big shoes to fill
The Washington Post
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President Biden should not run in 2024
The Washington Post
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China Sows Disinformation About Hawaii Fires Using New Techniques
New York Times
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Raimondo finds a China facing a reality check
The Washington Post
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For the U.S. and Vietnam, the road to reconciliation is paved by the personal
The Washington Post
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The Space Force needs to get bigger
The Washington Post
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Blinken and Biden are building a foreigh policy framework to last
The Washington Post
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My grandkids introduced me to 'Bluey.' It's so good I watch it on my own.
The Washington Post
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With oil production cut, the Saudis send a message to the U.S.
The Washington Post
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Why artificial intelligence is now a primary concern for Henry Kissinger
The Washington Post
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What if the United States loses the AI race against China?
The Washington Post
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The U.S. warms to a role for China in resolving the Ukraine war
The Washington Post
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The Tao of Deception | Part 1
The Washington Post
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The moment when Putin turned away from the West
The Washington Post
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The leaked documents on the Ukraine war are chilling
The Washington Post
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The Iranian regime has never faced a movement like this one
The Washington Post
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Sometimes the story is about the spies who aren't there
The Washington Post
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Israel's incursion into Jenin is a bitter taste of things to come
The Washington Post
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In Vienna, the U.S.-China relationship shows signs of hope
The Washington Post
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How Ukraine’s offensive changes the equation for Putin and Zelensky
The Washington Post
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How China is heralding the beginnings of a multipolar Middle East
The Washington Post
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Here's the real lesson from the showy Xi-Putin meeting
The Washington Post
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China is becoming the cult of President Xi Jinping
The Washington Post

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