Robert Kagan (; born September 26, 1958) is an American neoconservative
scholar and critic of U.S. foreign policy and a leading advocate of liberal interventionism
A co-founder of the neoconservative Project for the New American Century
he is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution
and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations
. Kagan has been a foreign policy adviser to U.S. Republican presidential candidates as well as Democratic administrations via the Foreign Affairs Policy Board
. He writes a monthly column on world affairs for ''The Washington Post
'' and is a contributing editor at ''The New Republic
''. During the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign
, Kagan left the Republican Party
due to the party's nomination of Donald Trump
and endorsed the Democratic
candidate, Hillary Clinton
, for president.
Personal life and education
Robert Kagan was born in Athens
. His father, historian Donald Kagan
, a Sterling Professor
of Classics and History Emeritus at Yale University
and a specialist in the history of the Peloponnesian War
, is of Lithuanian Jewish
descent. His brother, Frederick
, is a military historian and author. Kagan has a BA in history (1980) from Yale
, where in 1979 he had been Editor in Chief of the ''Yale Political Monthly
'', a periodical he is credited with reviving. He later earned an MPP
from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government
and a PhD
in American history from American University
in Washington, D.C.
Kagan is married to the American diplomat Victoria Nuland
, who served as Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs
in the Barack Obama
administration. Nuland held the rank of Career Ambassador
, the highest diplomatic rank in the United States Foreign Service
. She is noted for her criticism of Russian policies.
Ideas and career
In 1983, Kagan was foreign policy advisor to New York Republican Representative Jack Kemp
. From 1984 to 1986, under the administration of Ronald Reagan
, he was a speechwriter for Secretary of State George P. Shultz
and a member of the United States Department of State
Policy Planning Staff. From 1986 to 1988, he served in the State Department Bureau of Inter-American Affairs.
In 1997, Kagan co-founded the now-defunct neoconservative think tank Project for the New American Century
with William Kristol
Through the work of the PNAC, from 1998, Kagan was an early and strong advocate of military action to "remove Mr. Hussein and his regime from power". In January 2002, Kagan and Kristol claimed in a ''Weekly Standard
'' article that Saddam Hussein
was supporting the "existence of a terrorist training camp in Iraq
, complete with a Boeing 707
for practicing hijackings, and filled with non-Iraqi radical Muslims". Kagan and Kristol further alleged that the September 11
hijacker Mohamed Atta met with an Iraqi intelligence official
several months before the attacks. The allegations were later shown to be false.
From 1998 until August, 2010, Kagan was a Senior Associate with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
. He was appointed senior fellow in the Center on United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution
in September 2010.
During the 2008 presidential campaign he served as foreign policy advisor to John McCain
, the Republican Party's nominee for President of the United States
in the 2008 election
Since 2011, Kagan has also served on the 25-member State Department's Foreign Affairs Policy Board
under Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton
and John Kerry
referred to Kagan as "the chief neoconservative foreign-policy theorist" in reviewing Kagan's book ''The Return of History and the End of Dreams''.
A profile in ''The Guardian
'' described Kagan as being "uncomfortable" with the 'neocon' title, and stated that "he insists he is 'liberal' and 'progressive' in a distinctly American tradition".
In 2008, Kagan wrote an article titled "Neocon Nation: Neoconservatism, c. 1776" for ''World Affairs
'', describing the main components of American neoconservatism as a belief in the rectitude of applying US moralism to the world stage, support for the US to act alone, the promotion of American-style liberty and democracy in other countries, the belief in American hegemony, the confidence in US military power, and a distrust of international institutions. According to Kagan, his foreign-policy views are "deeply rooted in American history and widely shared by Americans".
In 2006, Kagan wrote that Russia
are the greatest "challenge liberalism faces today": "Nor do Russia and China welcome the liberal West's efforts to promote liberal politics around the globe, least of all in regions of strategic importance to them. ... Unfortunately, al-Qaeda may not be the only challenge liberalism faces today, or even the greatest." In a February 2017 essay for Foreign Policy
, Kagan argued that U.S. post-Cold War
retrenchment in global affairs has emboldened Russia and China, "the two great revisionist powers," and will eventually lead to instability and conflict.
In October 2018, Kagan said: "Unless are you willing to punish" Saudi Arabia
for the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi
, "then they own you."
Kagan is a columnist for ''The Washington Post
and a contributing editor at ''The New Republic
'' and ''The Weekly Standard
''. He has also written for ''The New York Times
'', ''Foreign Affairs
'', ''The Wall Street Journal
'', ''World Affairs
'', and ''Policy Review
Regarding Kagan's opinion piece "Problem with Powell" (''Washington Post'' July 23, 2000), scholar Guy Roberts states that "the PNAC co-founder Robert Kagan sought to explain core differences" between the positions of the neoconservatives and those of Colin Powell
. In that piece, Kagan wrote,
has described Kagan as blaming Powell "for Saddam Hussein remaining in power" in the ''Washington Post'' piece.
In a subsequent opinion piece "Spotlight on Colin Powell" (''The Philadelphia Inquirer
'', February 12, 2002) Kagan praised Powell for "
ticulately defending the new Bush Doctrine" and declaring "his support for 'regime change' in Iraq".
In 2003, Kagan's book ''Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order'', published on the eve of the US invasion of Iraq
, created something of a sensation through its assertions that Europeans tended to favor peaceful resolutions of international disputes while the United States takes a more "Hobbesian" view in which some kinds of disagreement can only be settled by force, or, as he put it: "Americans are from Mars and Europe is from Venus." ''New York Times'' book reviewer, Ivo H. Daalder wrote:
Kagan's book ''Dangerous Nation: America's Place in the World from its Earliest Days to the Dawn of the Twentieth Century'' (2006) argued forcefully against what he considers the widespread misconception that the United States had been isolationist since its inception. It was awarded a Lepgold Prize from Georgetown University.
Kagan's essay "Not Fade Away: The Myth of American Decline" (''The New Republic
'', February 2, 2012) was very positively received by President Obama. Josh Rogin reported in ''Foreign Policy
'' that the president "spent more than 10 minutes talking about it...going over its arguments paragraph by paragraph." That essay was excerpted from his book, ''The World America Made'' (2012).
John Bew and Kagan lectured on March 27, 2014, on Realpolitik
and American exceptionalism
at the Library of Congress
Criticism of Donald Trump
In February 2016, Kagan publicly left the Republican party (referring to himself as a "former Republican") and endorsed Democrat Hillary Clinton
for president and argued that the Republican Party's "wild obstructionism" and an insistence that "government, institutions, political traditions, party leadership and even parties themselves" were things meant to be "overthrown, evaded, ignored, insulted, laughed at" set the stage for the rise of Donald Trump
. Kagan called Trump a "Frankenstein monster" and also compared him to Napoleon
In May 2016, Kagan wrote an opinion piece in ''The Washington Post'' regarding Trump's campaign entitled "This Is How Fascism Comes to America".
Kagan has said that "all Republican foreign policy professionals are anti-Trump."
* A Twilight Struggle: American Power and Nicaragua, 1977-1990.
* Present Dangers: Crisis and Opportunity in America's Foreign and Defense Policy
', with William Kristol (2000)
* ''Of Paradise and Power
: America and Europe in the New World Order.'' (2003)
* Dangerous Nation: America's Place in the World from its Earliest Days to the Dawn of the Twentieth Century.
* The Return of History and the End of Dreams.
* ''The World America Made
*''The Jungle Grows Back
: America and Our Imperiled World.'' (2018)
*Stop Trump movement
"Toward a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy"
by William Kristol and Robert Kagan
Articles at Commentary MagazineArticles at Washington PostArticles at New RepublicArticles at Weekly StandardArticles at Carnegie EndowmentArticles at BrookingsArticles at Foreign Policy InitiativeLunch with the FT: Robert KaganForeign Policy Folly
by Willian Ruger
Book Review of "Dangerous Nation"
by Michael Lind
A Neocon by any other name
by Peter Beaumont
The Decline of the West
by Charles Kupchan
The Duplicity of the Ideologues
by Andrew J. Bacevich
Superpowers don't retire, but Robert Kagan should
by Tom Switzer
Robert Kagan’s Big Wrong Idea
by Michael Lind
Category:20th-century American writers
Category:21st-century American writers
Category:American political scientists
Category:American University alumni
Category:John F. Kennedy School of Government alumni
Category:Greek emigrants to the United States
Category:The Washington Post people
Category:The Weekly Standard people
Category:Yale College alumni
Category:20th-century American male writers
Category:Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs