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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

AP

July 31, 2014

"Stronger sanctions are needed to stop Putin"

Op-Ed, Boston Globe

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

VLADIMIR PUTIN has broken all the rules of geopolitics in Ukraine over the last five months. He finally had to pay for his actions this week. The coordinated list of tougher financial, military, and energy sanctions announced by the United States and European Union is a potential turning point. But is it enough to convince Putin to turn back from his determination to split Ukraine effectively in two?

 

 

AP

July 17, 2014

"A Cold War lesson for Iran"

Op-Ed, Boston Globe

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

In tribute to former Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze who died last week, Nicholas Burns reflects on the admirable and successful diplomacy by veteran diplomats of former rivals -- the U.S. and U.S.S.R. -- to bring a peaceful end to the Cold War. From this seemingly unlikely and remarkable outcome, he draws lessons on how we might proceed on another Cold War — our 35-year struggle with Iran, now at a critical juncture.

 

 

AP

July 3, 2014

"The Middle East at a tipping point"

Op-Ed

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

Professor Burns points out the tragic irony of an unraveling Middle East just a month after President Obama proclaimed at West Point's commencement that "the decade of war" was behind us. At a pivitol moment in the history of the Middle East, ISIS's declaration of a radical caliphate spanning northern Syria and western Iraq could destabilize the region for years to come.

 

 

AP

June 19, 2014

Ready for Hillary Clinton?

Op-Ed, Boston Globe

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

The seismic shocks rocking the Middle East this week — renewed war in Iraq, an emerging radical Sunni Caliphate, and a possible independent Kurdistan — remind us anew that, before politicians jump into the race to succeed President Obama, they better have serious foreign policy credentials.

 

 

National Archives and Records Administration

June 5, 2014

"D-Day's meaning"

Op-Ed, Boston Globe

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

From the Freedom and Solidarity Forum in Caen, France where he is a speaker, Professor Burns reflects on one of the most successful and meaningful military interventions in US history--the D-Day landings on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France 70 years ago. Today, deciding when to intervene and when not to has become one of the most difficult and complex international challenges for global leaders. Professor Burns discusses some recent scenarios.

 

 

May 29, 2014

Professor Burns reflects on major global events in the past year

News

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

With the academic year coming to an end, the HKS student newspaper, The Citizen, invited Professor Nicholas Burns to offer his thoughts on global affairs.

 

 

AP

May 22, 2014

Obama needs to reset his international strategy

Op-Ed, Boston Globe

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

President Obama has the chance to lay out a creative foreign policy plan for the end of his second term.

 

 

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.

 

 

AP

May 8, 2014

"Where’s the US on Ukraine?"

Op-Ed, Boston Globe

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

Nick Burns discusses why Putin's aggression in Ukraine matters to America's vital interests, and how the American and European response — weak, disjointed, and ineffective — has his colleagues around the world wondering, Where is American power and leadership when the world needs it most?.

 

 

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.

 

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