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Nicholas Burns

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Littauer 374
John F. Kennedy School of Government
79 JFK St.
Cambridge, MA, 02138

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Nicholas Burns

Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics, Harvard Kennedy School

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

Contact:
Telephone: 617-495-2495
Email: nicholas_burns@hks.harvard.edu
Website: http://www.twitter.com/rnicholasburns

 

Experience

Nicholas Burns is Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.  He is Director of the Future of Diplomacy Project and Faculty Chair for the Programs on the Middle East and on India and South Asia. He serves on the Board of Directors of the School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and is a Faculty Associate at Harvard’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.

He is Director of the Aspen Strategy Group, Senior Counselor at the Cohen Group, and serves on the Board of Directors of Entegris, Inc.  He writes a biweekly column on foreign affairs for the Boston Globe.

Burns serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations, including the Council on Foreign Relations, Special Olympics, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, the Richard Lounsbery Foundation, the Atlantic Council, American Media Abroad, the Association of Diplomatic Studies and Training, the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, and the Gennadius Library.  He is Vice Chairman of the American Ditchley Foundation and serves on the Panel of Senior Advisors at Chatham House: the Royal Institute of International Affairs.  He is a member of the Committee on Conscience of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. He is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Trilateral Commission, the Order of Saint John, and Red Sox Nation.

Professor Burns served in the United States government for twenty-seven years.  As a career Foreign Service Officer, he was Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs from 2005 to 2008; the State Department’s third-ranking official when he led negotiations on the U.S.–India Civil Nuclear Agreement; a long-term military assistance agreement with Israel; and was the lead U.S. negotiator on Iran’s nuclear program. He was U.S. Ambassador to NATO (2001–2005), Ambassador to Greece (1997–2001) and State Department Spokesman (1995–1997).  He worked for five years (1990–1995) on the National Security Council at the White House where he was Senior Director for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia Affairs and Special Assistant to President Clinton and Director for Soviet Affairs in the Administration of President George H.W. Bush. Burns also served in the American Consulate General in Jerusalem (1985–1987) where he coordinated U.S. economic assistance to the Palestinian people in the West Bank and before that, at the American embassies in Egypt (1983-1985) and Mauritania (1980 as an intern).

Professor Burns has received twelve honorary degrees, the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award, the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service from Johns Hopkins University, the Boston College Alumni Achievement Award and the Jean Mayer Global Citizenship Award from Tufts University. He has a BA in History from Boston College (1978), an MA in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (1980), and earned the Certificat Pratique de Langue Francaise at the University of Paris-Sorbonne (1977). He was a visiting Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in summer 2008.

 

 

By Date

 

2014

April 24, 2014

"Obama’s longer-term foreign policy challenges"

Op-Ed, Boston Globe

By Nicholas Burns, Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics, Harvard Kennedy School

Barack Obama finds a series of daunting global crises filling his Oval Office in-box. His foreign-policy legacy will depend on how successfully he tackles the longer-term global challenges on the horizon. Professor Burns details four that will test Obama--and his successors--in the years ahead: balancing partnership and competition with China; closing two landmark free-trade agreements — the Trans-Pacific Partnership in Asia and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union; restoring close ties with Delhi and Brasilia; and finding courage on climate change.

 

 

AP

April 10, 2014

"Playing to Putin’s end game"

Op-Ed, Boston Globe

By Nicholas Burns, Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics, Harvard Kennedy School

Recent ethnic Russian demonstrations in Eastern Ukraine and fistfights in the Ukrainian parliament are more dramatic displays in the ongoing saga of a country unraveling. Furthermore, Putin's words--Crimea ibeing his last territorial demand--and actions--moving thousands of troops to to the Ukrainian border--aren't matching up.

Professor Burns writes about the need for a strong reponse from the U.S. and Europe. He suggests two options: imposing tough economic sanctions and moving NATO forces to the Baltics and Poland. Our allies, as well as Putin, are looking to see if Washington will display confidence, toughness, and leadership in the most serious security crisis in Europe since the Cold War’s end.

 

 

March 31, 2014

"Assessing threats to Asian peace"

News

By Nicholas Burns, Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics, Harvard Kennedy School

Professor Nicholas Burns sat down with FinanceAsia on the sidelines of the March 2014 Credit Suisse annual Asian investor conference in Hong Kong to discuss the intersection of geopolitics and globalisation.

 

 

AP

March 26, 2014

"Three myths about Putin’s Russia"

Op-Ed, Boston Globe

By Nicholas Burns, Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics, Harvard Kennedy School

Professor Burns writes that President Putin's "extraordinarily powerful, provocative, acerbic, and self-pitying" March 18 speech to the Duma reveals three myths about his rule and ambitions: 1) Russians as victims of history; 2) Misguided U.S. policies forced Putin to react; and 3) Putin’s on a roll, and we can’t stop him.

Porfessor Burns believes that, as in the Cold War, the United States should stick to its defense of freedom and wait out Putin. Further, NATO and the EU are stronger than the Russian dictator in right and might as well as spirit.

 

 

March 17, 2014

"Putin’s long-term strategy"

News

By Nicholas Burns, Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics, Harvard Kennedy School

The debate over Crimean independence has grown more heated as Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to insist that citizens in the majority ethnic-Russian region of Ukraine should determine their own political fate. He points to yesterday’s limited Crimean vote favoring joining Russia as evidence, and has also endorsed Crimean independence, at least in the short term. But many other world leaders disagree, arguing that Ukraine’s national sovereignty is being violated and that Putin is simply exercising a power grab.

 

 

Igor Zehl (CTK via AP Images)

March 13, 2014

"In Ukraine, the end of Act One"

Op-Ed, Boston Globe

By Nicholas Burns, Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics, Harvard Kennedy School

Putin's invasion of Ukraine is nearing the end of Act One. Professor Nicholas Burns expands on key points and questions as the saga continues: 1) Putin's strategy is crystal clear; 2) Europe and America are divided; 3) Obama didn't cause the problem; Putin did; 4) Power rules: Putin took Crimea because he could; 5) NATO is back; 6) The battle for a “democratic peace” in Europe has resumed; and 7) Putin is threatening great power peace with his land grab in Europe.

 

 

March 4, 2014

Putin's clever game of chess

Op-Ed, Boston Globe

By Nicholas Burns, Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics, Harvard Kennedy School

Ambassador Nicholas Burns compares Vladimir Putin to a chess grandmaster and asks how President Obama and his European allies can counter his moves in Ukraine. This is the supreme test of Obama's remaining years in office, Burns writes.

 

 

AP

March 2, 2014

"The US and EU have options to outmanoeuvre Russia"

Op-Ed, Financial Times

By Nicholas Burns, Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics, Harvard Kennedy School

Ambassador Nicholas Burns advances a diplomatic strategy to outmanoeuvre the Russian threat to Ukraine, which he labels the most serious threat to European security since the Cold War.

 

 

AP

February 26, 2014

Cold War passions in Ukraine

Op-Ed, Boston Globe

By Nicholas Burns, Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics, Harvard Kennedy School

"Strong US leadership in the Ukraine crisis is vital to preserve the democratic peace in Europe."

 

 

February 17, 2014

"What does it take to be a U.S. ambassador?"

In the News

By Nicholas Burns, Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics, Harvard Kennedy School

Gaffes made by a fresh crop of ambassadorial nominees—several of them donors—have raised questions about Obama’s selection process. Obama, according to the American Foreign Service Association, has the highest proportion of political picks since Ronald Reagan.

Gwen Ifill talks to former Foreign Service officer Nicholas Burns and Walter Russell Mead of The American Interest.

 

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