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Hal Brands

Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor


Hal Brands is the Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor of Global Affairs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and a Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA). He is also a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion. He is the author or editor of several books, including American Grand Strategy in the Age of Trump (2018), Making the Unipolar Moment: U.S. Foreign Policy and the Rise of the Post-Cold War Order (2016), What Good is Grand Strategy? Power and Purpose in American Statecraft from Harry S. Truman to George W. Bush (2014), Latin America’s Cold War (2010), From Berlin to Baghdad: America’s Search for Purpose in the Post-Cold War World (2008), and The Power of the Past: History and Statecraft (co-edited with Jeremi Suri, 2015). His newest book is The Lessons of Tragedy: Statecraft and World Order, co-authored with Charles Edel.

Hal served as Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Strategic Planning from 2015 to 2016, and has been a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow. He has also consulted with a range of government offices and agencies in the intelligence and national security communities and served as lead writer for the Commission on the National Defense Strategy for the United States.

Hal received his BA from Stanford University (2005) and his PhD from Yale University (2009). He previously worked at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy and the Institute for Defense Analyses. He lives in Maryland with his wife and two children.



  • American Defense Policy
  • American Foreign Policy
  • Domestic Influences On Foreign Policy
  • Grand Strategy
  • History
  • International Relations
  • Latin American Security and Diplomacy
  • Nuclear Policy and Proliferation
  • Strategic and Security Issues
  • U.S. Congress and Foreign Policy
  • U.S. Presidency and Foreign Policy

In the News

America needs to keep some Trumpism in foreign policy.

Hal Brands wrote in Bloomberg Opinion, 11/11

Trump delivered three foreign policy triumphs.

Hal Brands in Bloomberg Opinion, 10/27

Pentagon’s new plan to fight China and Russia in the gray zone.

Hal Brands wrote in Bloomberg Opinion, 10/21

Ten lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Francis J. Gavin and Hal Brands cited in New Statesman, 10/21

SAIS professors discuss how the pandemic will shape U.S. foreign policy.

Francis J. Gavin and Hal Brands quoted in Johns Hopkins News-Letter, 10/19

America’s soft-power outage can be fixed.

Hal Brands wrote in Bloomberg Opinion, 10/15

Should U.S. foreign policy focus on great-power competition?

Nora Bensahel, Hal Brands, Ho-Fung Hung, Vali Nasr, and Mary Elise Sarotte surveyed in Foreign Affairs, 10/13

Little war in the Caucasus has big lessons for U.S. and Russia.

Hal Brands wrote in Bloomberg Opinion, 10/8

Trump thinks America should go it alone. Americans disagree.

Hal Brands wrote in Bloomberg Opinion, 9/30

Washington needs to change how it thinks about the Middle East.

Hal Brands quoted in The Jerusalem Post, 9/30

Should America boycott China’s 2022 Olympics?

Hal Brands wrote in Bloomberg Opinion, 9/24

An Asian NATO? The U.S. has better options for its allies.

Hal Brands wrote in Bloomberg Opinion 9/23