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Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry


Karl Eikenberry is the William J. Perry Fellow in International Security at the Center for International Security and Cooperation and a distinguished fellow with the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University. He served as the US ambassador to Afghanistan from May 2009 until July 2011 and had a thirty-five-year career in the US Army, retiring with the rank of lieutenant general. He is a graduate of the US Military Academy, has earned master’s degrees from Harvard University in East Asian studies and Stanford University in political science, was awarded an Interpreter’s Certificate in Mandarin Chinese from the British Foreign Commonwealth Office, and earned an advanced degree in Chinese history from Nanjing University. Ambassador Eikenberry serves as a trustee for the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Asia Foundation, and the National Committee on American Foreign Policy and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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Recent Commentary

US-China Relations

China’s Place In U.S. Foreign Policy

by Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry
Tuesday, June 9, 2015

China is a peculiar combination of a domestic status quo power and a rising international power. An effective U.S. China policy is best built on a thorough assessment of the context in which Sino-American relations exist and operate.

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Toward A National Security Strategy

by Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberryvia Defining Ideas
Thursday, June 4, 2015

We need to consider what our institutions are capable of before declaring foreign policy goals. 

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A Grand Strategy for Failed States

by Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberryvia Defining Ideas
Tuesday, February 17, 2015

How should the United States handle threats posed by countries like Yemen, Syria, and Nigeria? 

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Thoughts on Unconventional Threats and Terrorism

by Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberryvia Analysis
Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The term “unconventional threat” has often been an imprecise classification tool and has led to a focus on tactics at the expense of strategy in the U.S. struggle against transnational terrorists groups like Al Qaeda.  Combating transnational terrorism requires properly evaluating the threat terrorism poses, a deep understanding of geopolitical context surrounding a transnational terrorist group, and a willingness to be flexible in the tools used to mitigate risk, including focusing on improving countermeasures in the homeland. 

Thucydides Trap

by Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberryvia American Review
Monday, August 4, 2014

Don’t presume that tensions between China, a rising state, and the United States, the status quo power, will lead to conflict

A Framework for Thinking about Domestic Foundations

by Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberryvia Analysis
Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Ambassador Karl Eikenberry provides a framework for understanding the domestic foundations of American power and its relevance to foreign policy. Strategy, he says, is the art of applying means to desired ends and a successful strategy must therefore involve a clear assessment of the domestic sources of those means.

Thoughts on U.S. Strategy

by Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberryvia Analysis
Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Karl Eikenberry examines the country’s past national security strategies and finds that their articulation of American interests has been consistent since the early days of the Cold War. What has changed is the underlying set of assumptions about U.S. economic strength and the domestic foundations of power that allow us to pursue those interests.