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Nicholas Burns        

Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy & International Politics, Harvard Kennedy School

Ambassador R. Nicholas Burns is one of the country’s most articulate spokespeople on globalization and U.S. foreign policy, earning respect as a nonpartisan expert on public diplomacy and world affairs. Over the course of his illustrious, 27-year career, he played a leadership role in U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East and Asia and was the nation’s top career diplomat as under secretary of state for political affairs from 2005–2008. He served three presidents: George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. Burns speaks with candor and passion about his position at the forefront of American foreign relations and policy and offers a big-picture perspective of our country’s position on the world stage.

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.

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).

Burns has received twelve honorary degrees, the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award, the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service from the 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.

Speech Topics


Egypt and the Middle East

Current turmoil in the Middle East will no doubt impact American interests. Ambassador Nicholas Burns discusses potential strategies for mitigating the risk. A prolonged crisis in Egypt could affect the price of oil, overall stability in the Middle East, Israeli security, and U.S. trade and investment. The emergence of a radical Islamist Egyptian government in the future would change the entire calculus of our policy. The revolts that have spread in the Arab world – from Tunisia and Egypt to Yemen and Jordan – will provide the most critical potential point of change in the politics, economics, and business interests of the Middle East in decades. Burns has been repeatedly interviewed by Fox, CNN, BBC, CBS, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, and other media on what these events mean for the business community in terms of trade, investment, energy markets, national security, and American interests in general. In this presentation, Burns address the crisis, its originations, and how the resulting changes will affect American business and security.

The Economic Crisis: Its Impact on U.S.

Competitiveness and Our World Standing. Wall Street’s collapse and the recent economic crisis affected people around the world. How should the Obama Administration and Congress react to this crisis and lead the way toward an eventual recovery? How should the U.S. act to protect our global economic interests? Nicholas Burns outlines how Americans must make an international economic recovery our overriding national goal. He makes a strong case that the new U.S. administration must continue to support American exports, resist protectionism, and work to restructure many of the leading international institutions to make them more effective in responding to current global challenges. Finally, he argues passionately that the U.S. must remain engaged in the world as an active and strong global leader and thus resist the twin illusions of isolationism and unilateralism.

The Future of America's National Security

As recovery from the global financial crisis continues, one of the central challenges for world leaders moving forward is deciding how to create effective international actions to contain and overcome it. No nation can hope to address the financial and economic challenges alone but must instead work with the IMF, World Bank, and other international institutions to coordinate recovery efforts. In addition, the leading world powers must consider creation of new institutions to regain economic stability. As China, India, Brazil and other emerging market countries rise in power, they will also want greater leadership roles in existing institutions. How should the U.S. work to promote more effective global governance? Can President Obama keep the U.S. in a leadership position but also open the door to greater involvement by the rising powers? What are the implications of the rise of China, India and the other countries for America's long-term security? Will we be able to work with Russia effectively at a difficult time in our bilateral relationship? These are among the most important questions for America as we look to the future. Nicholas Burns addresses these vital issues and their implications.

Remarks by Nicholas Burns

Nicholas Burns will speak to a wide variety of global issues.

Topic areas include:

· Global Politics and U.S. Foreign Policy · Diplomacy in the 21st Century

Global Crises Outlook

What are the global crises that will affect U.S. businesses and markets? Topics include the Russia/Ukraine Crisis, the Iran Nuclear Negotiations, the Syria Civil War, Chinese territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas and North Korea.

The President's Foreign Policy In-Box

What are the major global challenges facing the United States for the long-term and how should the U.S. respond to them? In this speech Nick will discuss the extraordinary range of complex challenges we face from Iran and North Korea to cyber threats, climate change, international crime and drug cartels to terrorism and proliferation. He will chart how Americans can succeed in confronting them by rejecting isolationism and maintaining a lead U.S. role in the world. He will also discuss why there are reasons for us to be hopeful about our national strengths and the future.

The Burning Middle East

Nick will discuss the many challenges we face in just one region of the world--The Middle East. As a former U.S. negotiator on Iran's nuclear program, he can speak in detail about how the U.S. should respond. He also covers our complicated relationship with Egypt, the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, Syria and the threat of terrorism in the region.

The Future of Foreign Policy

Ambassador Burns provides unparalleled expertise in his presentations on topics ranging from globalization and America’s future in global leadership to how India and China’s rise to power affects the global economy. He believes that America’s prosperity and security depend on our taking into account the world’s concerns; delivering a positive, hopeful image; participating constructively in international organizations (emphasizing multilateralism); and becoming a more energized, enlightened, and effective global leader.

News


Harvard Professor and Former Ambassador Nicholas Burns joins ...

“We are especially proud to have Nick Burns join GlobalPost,” said GlobalPost ... Johns Hopkins University, and the Boston College Alumni Achievement Award.

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