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Eric Edelman

Roger Hertog Distinguished Practitioner-in-Residence at the Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies


Ambassador Eric S. Edelman retired as a career minister from the US Foreign Service on May 1, 2009. He has served in senior positions at the Departments of State and Defense as well as the White House, where he led organizations providing analysis, strategy, policy development, security services, trade advocacy, public outreach, citizen services, and congressional relations. As undersecretary of defense for policy (August 2005-January 2009), he was DoD's senior policy official, overseeing strategy development with global responsibility for bilateral defense relations, war plans, special operations forces, homeland defense, missile defense, nuclear weapons and arms control policies, counterproliferation, counternarcotics, counterterrorism, arms sales, and defense trade controls. He served as US ambassador to Finland in the Clinton administration and Turkey in the Bush administration and was Vice President Cheney's principal deputy assistant for national security affairs. He was chief of staff to Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, special assistant to Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Robert Kimmitt, and special assistant to Secretary of State George Shultz. His other assignments included the State Department Operations Center, Prague, Moscow, and Tel Aviv, where he was a member of the US Middle East delegation to the West Bank/Gaza autonomy talks. Ambassador Edelman has been awarded the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joint Distinguished Civilian Service Award, the Presidential Distinguished Service Award, and several Department of State Superior Honor Awards. In 2010, he was named a knight of the French National Order of the Legion of Honor. He received a B.A. in history and government from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in U.S. diplomatic history from Yale University. He is a distinguished fellow at the Center of Strategic and Budgetary Assessment and a senior associate of the international security program at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University. He also serves on the National Defense Panel, on the bipartisan board of directors of the United States Institute of Peace, and on the board of the Foreign Policy Initiative.



  • American Defense Policy
  • American Foreign Policy
  • Nuclear Policy and Proliferation
  • Strategic and Security Issues

In the News

Why the bad guys are winning.

Eliot A. Cohen and Eric Edelman interviewed Anne Applebaum on the Shield of the Republic podcast, 01/04

Public opinion and foreign policy.

Eliot A. Cohen and Eric Edelman hosted Shield of the Republic podcast, 12/08

Three dangerous men.

Eliot A. Cohen and Eric Edelman hosted Shield of the Republic podcast, 11/24

There is nothing for you here.

Eliot A. Cohen and Eric Edelman hosted Shield of the Republic podcast, 11/09

Woodrow Wilson and the Great War.

Eliot A. Cohen and Eric Edelman hosted Shield of the Republic podcast, 10/26

"A strategic failure": The war in Afghanistan.

Eric Edelman interviewed Carter Malkasian on Shield of the Republic podcast, 10/08

Secretary of the American century.

Eric Edelman wrote in The Dispatch, 02/08

Defense secretaries' letter warning Trump was signed by all in only two days.

Eliot A. Cohen and Eric Edelman cited on ABC News, 01/05

Defense secretaries worried about a Trump power grab.

Dean Eliot A. Cohen quoted and Eric Edelman cited in Foreign Policy, 01/04

The SecDefs speak out.

Dean Eliot A. Cohen and Eric Edelman cited in Slate Magazine, 01/04

All former living secretaries support Biden’s claims of Pentagon stonewalling.

Dean Eliot A. Cohen and Eric Edelman cited in U.S. News & World Report, 01/04

Extraordinary warning to Trump by 10 former Pentagon chiefs.

Eric Edelman cited in Associated Press, 01/04