Robert Kagan (/ˈkeɪɡən/; born September 26, 1958) is a neoconservative American historian and foreign-policy commentator. Kagan, however prefers the term "liberal interventionist" to describe himself. Some have characterized his approach to international relations theory as realist.
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. Kagan left the Republican Party in 2016 due to what he described as Donald Trump's fascism, and endorsed Hillary Clinton.
Kagan in 2008
|Born|| September 26, 1958
|Alma mater||Yale University
Robert Kagan is the son of historian Donald Kagan, who is Sterling Professor of Classics and History at Yale University and a specialist in the history of the Peloponnesian War. 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 that 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. She held the rank of Career Ambassador, the highest diplomatic rank in the United States Foreign Service. She is noted for being critical of Russian policies.
In 1983, Robert Kagan was foreign policy advisor to New York Republican Representative Jack Kemp. From 1984–86, 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 1986–1988 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". The US achieved that goal in 2003, through the Iraq war.
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. He is also a member of the board of directors for the neoconservative think tank The Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI).
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 and China 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.
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, Commentary, 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,
The problem with Powell is his political and strategic judgment. He doesn’t believe the United States should enter conflicts without strong public support, but he also doesn't believe that the public will support anything. That kind of iron logic rules out almost every conceivable post-Cold War intervention.
In a subsequent opinion piece "Spotlight on Colin Powell" (The Philadelphia Inquirer, February 12, 2002) Kagan praised Powell for "[a]rticulately 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:
When it comes to setting national priorities, determining threats, defining challenges, and fashioning and implementing foreign and defense policies, the United States and Europe have parted ways, writes Mr. Kagan, concluding, in words already famous in another context, 'Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus.'
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).
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."
Robert Kagan... Co-founder with William Kristol of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC)
Robert Kagan is co-founder with William Kristol of the Project for the New American Century.