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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

Secret trip to China transformed the Cold War.

Hal Brands wrote in Bloomberg Opinion, 07/18

Afghanistan was a limited war with limited success.

Hal Brands wrote for Bloomberg Opinion, 07/08

Latin America is slipping back into strongman rule.

Hal Brands wrote in Bloomberg Opinion, 06/30

What does ‘the West‘ really mean any more?

Hal Brands wrote in Bloomberg Opinion, 06/27

The return of geopolitics: Latin America and the Caribbean in an era of strategic competition.

Hal Brands wrote for Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy, 06/17

Biden wants a 'predictable' Russia. That helps Putin.

Hal Brands wrote in Bloomberg Opinion, 06/15

Win or lose, U.S. war against China or Russia won’t be short.

Hal Brands wrote in Bloomberg Opinion, 06/14

The Pentagon’s flatlining budget is good news for China.

Hal Brands wrote in Bloomberg Opinion, 06/06

Belarus hijacking showed the fraying of America’s world.

Hal Brands wrote in Bloomberg Opinion, 05/28

Pentagon’s special forces need to go back to the future.

Hal Brands wrote in Bloomberg Opinion, 05/24

There’s a right way for a superpower to cut and run.

Hal Brands wrote in Bloomberg Opinion, 05/10

Europe needs to embrace China's threat to the world.

Hal Brands wrote in Bloomberg Opinion, 04/29