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Meghan L. O'Sullivan

Mailing address

Littauer 329A
79 JFK Street
Mailbox 53
Cambridge, MA, 02138

Meghan L. O'Sullivan

Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Member of the Board, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Contact:
Telephone: 617-496-4308
Fax: 617-495-8963
Email: meghan_osullivan@ksg.harvard.edu

 

Experience

Meghan L. O’Sullivan is the Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs and Director of the Geopolitics of Energy Project at Harvard University’s Kennedy School. Her expertise includes the geopolitics of energy, decision making in foreign policy, nation-building, counterinsurgency, and the Middle East. From July 2013-December 2013, she served as the vice chair of the All Party Talks in Northern Ireland, which sought to resolve on-going obstacles to peace. Between 2004 and 2007, she was special assistant to President George W. Bush and Deputy National Security Advisor for Iraq and Afghanistan during the last two years of her tenure. There, she helped run two strategic policy reviews: one on Afghanistan in the summer of 2006 and one on Iraq in late 2006 and early 2007, which led to the “surge” strategy. She spent two years in Iraq, most recently in the fall of 2008 to help conclude the security agreement and strategic framework agreement between the United States and Iraq. 

Prior to this, Dr. O'Sullivan was senior director for strategic planning and Southwest Asia in the NSC; political advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority administrator and deputy director for governance in Baghdad; chief advisor to the presidential envoy to the Northern Ireland peace process; and a fellow at the Brookings Institution. She has published several books and articles on American foreign policy, including Shrewd Sanctions: Statecraft and State Sponsors of Terrorism (2003) and edited volume (with Richard Haass) Honey and Vinegar: Incentives, Sanctions, and Foreign Policy (2000).

Dr. O'Sullivan is an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, a consultant to the National Intelligence Council, and a strategic advisor to John Hess, the Chairman and CEO of Hess Corporation, an American independent oil and gas company.  She is also a foreign affairs columnist for Bloomberg View as well as a member of the Council of Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, and the Aspen Strategy Group.  Dr. O’Sullivan serves as a trustee of the German Marshall Fund, a director of the board of TechnoServe, a member of the Advisory Board to the Women’s Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute, and a member of the board of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard.

She has been awarded the Defense Department's highest honor for civilians, the Distinguished Public Service Medal, and three times been awarded the State Department's Superior Honor Award. In 2008, Esquire Magazine named her one of the most influential people of the century.

Dr. O'Sullivan received a B.A. from Georgetown University, a masters of science in Economics and doctorate in Politics from Oxford University.

 

 

By Date

 

2014

AP Images

November 14, 2014

"New China-Russia Gas Pact Is No Big Deal"

Op-Ed, Bloomberg View

By Meghan L. O'Sullivan, Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

The latest China-Russia gas deal, declared on the arrival of Russian President Vladimir Putin in Beijing this week, got far more attention than it deserved.  Eager to add fuel to the narrative of an emerging strategic relationship between Beijing and Moscow, commentators pronounced the deal as a game-changer, a symbol of a new partnership between long-estranged countries.  Yet, a look beyond the words of Russian gas executives (always a good idea) suggests that there is much more hype than substance here. The deal seems to be little more than an effort to ensure that Putin did not leave China empty-handed, particularly in the wake of a big U.S.-China declaration on climate.

 

 

2013

"The Entanglement of Energy, Grand Strategy, and International Security"

Book Chapter

By Meghan L. O'Sullivan, Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Americans are pleasantly surprised about how their energy fate appears to have changed, in such a short time, with little notice or anticipation. Within the last five years, both actual US production of oil and gas and projections for future American production have changed dramatically. Whereas in the mid-2000s, experts predicted that the US should anticipate a future of severe dependence on imported natural gas, in 2012 Washington is debating the pros and cons of becoming an exporter of this resource. Even more quietly, domestic production of oil has increased, in large part due to the development of the tight oil in the Bakken formation in North Dakota and the Eagle Ford in Texas.

 

 

The U.S. Army

August 8, 2014

"Can Obama Rise to the Moment in Iraq?"

Op-Ed, Bloomberg View

By Meghan L. O'Sullivan, Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

To many, President Barack Obama’s authorization of airstrikes in Iraq -- and their commencement a few hours ago -- appears to be a major shift in U.S. posture. Certainly, this is the hope of millions of Kurds, tens of thousands of Yezidis, and countless other Iraqis desperate to stave off further gains by the radical fighters of the Islamic State in the Levant. Undoubtedly, it was a tough decision for the president, who has long been reluctant to use force in the Middle East and has prided himself on having "ended" the war in Iraq.

But is the shift as consequential as it seems? Obama's rhetoric on Thursday suggests we should be cautious in over-interpreting the turn of events, and very concerned about the sustainability of American engagement.

 

 

thecollegeconservative.com

July 9, 2014

"Future of Oil Hangs on Iraqi Politics"

Op-Ed, Bloomberg View

By Meghan L. O'Sullivan, Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Fears that events in Iraq will send global oil prices soaring have abated. Yet, the crisis has potentially huge implications for oil. Under any conceivable outcome to the current situation, oil production from Iraq will fail to meet recent expectations. The reason for this dire prognosis is that politics – not security or logistics – will be the biggest determinant of Iraq’s oil trajectory in the years ahead.

 

 

AP Images

June 30, 2014

Meghan O'Sullivan Reflects on U.S. Hesitation in Iraq

News

By Meghan L. O'Sullivan, Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

U.S. hesitation on Iraq creates opportunities for Iran

 

 

Nick Knupffer/Intel/Flickr

June 22, 2014

In Iraq, Obama Has Two Terrible Choices

Op-Ed, Politico

By Meghan L. O'Sullivan, Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

In his efforts to save Iraq, President Obama is right to demand more power-sharing and other political reforms from Iraqi leaders before the United States offers more military assistance. But Obama should not think he can hold off offering such assistance until he secures those reforms—not if he wants to prevent the bloody breakup of the country and a wider regional war. As sensible as a conditional approach seems, the president simply doesn’t have that option open to him.

 

 

AP Images

May 31, 2014

"North American Energy Remakes the Geopolitical Landscape"

Discussion Paper

By Meghan L. O'Sullivan, Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Thanks to the boom in American unconventional oil and gas production, the United States is swapping its long-suffered vulnerability to imported energy in favor of a new strategic asset. Even if the technology behind this energy renaissance remains limited to the American space, its geopolitical consequences will go beyond American shores.

 

 

AP Images

May 20, 2014

"Putin Sees China as a Gas-Hungry Ally"

Op-Ed, Bloomberg View

By Meghan L. O'Sullivan, Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping are likely to find they have more in common than ever as they meet this week, starting today in Shanghai for a Sino-Russian summit and later in St. Petersburg for an economic forum. Both men are coming under sharp criticism from the West: Putin for his annexation of Crimea and Xi for his forays into the contested waters of the South China Sea. For all the fascinating and potentially consequential strategic conversations that may take place between these two men, the one to look out for will be whether they conclude a much-delayed energy deal to pipe huge amounts of Russian natural gas to China starting in 2018.

 

 

May 16, 2014

"Challenges to U.S. Global Leadership"

Event Report

By Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard Kennedy School, Nicholas Burns, Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics, Harvard Kennedy School, David Ignatius, Senior Fellow, Future of Diplomacy Project and Meghan L. O'Sullivan, Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

In a Harvard Kennedy School IDEASpHERE session titled "Challenges to US Global Leadership," Graham Allison, Nicholas Burns, David Gergen, David Ignatius, and Meghan O’Sullivan discussed challenges as well as opportunities facing the United States. Burns moderated the session.

Challenges include the rise of China and the future of the U.S.-China relationship, the crises taking place around the world, and the reputation of the U.S. worldwide. An unexpected opportunity is the increase in available energy sources in the United States.

 

 

Photo by Martha Stewart

May 16, 2014

"America's Unconventional Energy Boom and How It Is Changing the Way the World Works"

Event Report

By Meghan L. O'Sullivan, Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School and Holly Morrow, Fellow, The Geopolitics of Energy Project

Geopolitics of Energy Director Meghan O’Sullivan joined Geopolitics of Energy Fellow Holly Morrow for an IDEASpHERE event titled “America’s Unconventional Energy Boom and How It Is Changing the Way the World Works.”

 

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