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Derek Chollet

Former Senior Fellow


Derek Chollet is the Counselor of the U.S. Department of State, where he serves at the rank of Under Secretary as a senior policy advisor to the Secretary of State on a wide range of issues and conducts special diplomatic assignments as directed by the Secretary.

Previously, he was executive vice president and senior advisor for security and defense policy at The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF), a visiting fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perry World House, an adjunct senior research scholar at Columbia University’s Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies, and an advisor to Beacon Global Strategies.
Chollet is author, co-author, or co-editor of seven books on U.S. foreign policy, including The Long Game: How Obama Defied Washington and Redefined America’s Role in the World (PublicAffairs, 2016), America Between the Wars: From 11/9 to 9/11, co-authored with James Goldgeier (PublicAffairs, 2008), and The Unquiet American: Richard Holbrooke in the World, co-edited with Samantha Power (PublicAffairs, 2011). His forthcoming book, The Middle Way: How Three Presidents Shaped America’s Role in the World, explores the shared foreign policy legacy of Dwight Eisenhower, George H.W. Bush and Barack Obama and will be published in 2021 by Oxford University Press.
From 2012-2015, Chollet was the U.S. assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, where he managed U.S. defense policy toward Europe (including NATO), the Middle East, Africa, and the Western Hemisphere.  In that role, he was a senior advisor to two secretaries of defense, Leon Panetta and Chuck Hagel. Prior to joining the Pentagon, Chollet served at the White House as special assistant to the president and senior director for strategic planning on the National Security Council Staff.  From 2009 to 2011, he was the principal deputy director of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Policy Planning Staff. During the Clinton Administration, Chollet served as chief speechwriter for UN Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, and as special adviser to Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott.
He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the U.S. Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the U.S. Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service, and the U.S. State Department Superior Honor Award.