The Atlantic Council
is a Washington, D.C. think tank and public policy group whose mission is to "promote constructive U.S. leadership and engagement in international affairs based on the central role of the Atlantic community in meeting the international challenges of the 21st century."
The Atlantic Council was founded in 1961, with the mission to encourage the continuation of cooperation between North America and Europe that began in the immediate post-war years. In its early years its work consisted largely of publishing policy papers and polling Europeans and Americans about their attitudes towards transatlantic and international cooperation. In these early years its primary focus was on economic issues – mainly encouraging free trade between the two continents, and to a lesser extent to the rest of the world – but it also did some work on political and environmental issues.
Although the Atlantic Council did publish policy papers and monographs, Prof. Melvin Small of Wayne State University
Wayne State University is a public research university located in Detroit, Michigan, United States, in the city's Midtown Cultural Center Historic District. Founded in 1868, WSU consists of 13 schools and colleges offering more than 400 major subject areas to over 32,000 graduate and...
wrote that, especially in its early years, the Council's real strength lie in its connections to influential policy makers. The Council early on found a niche as "center for informal get-togethers" of leaders from both sides of the Atlantic, with members working to develop "networks of continuing communication."
From its inception, the Atlantic Council has worked on issues in regions other than North America and Europe, with Asia figuring prominently in the Council's work. The Atlantic Council was among the first organizations advocating for an increased Japanese presence in the international community, and in recent years has expanded its focus with the opening of its South Asia Center and Program on Asia. Its Asian programs have expanded in recent years due to the ongoing war in Afghanistan and the new challenge of coordinating with India and China on climate change efforts.
In February 2009, James L. Jones
James Logan Jones, Jr. is the former United States National Security Advisor and a retired United States Marine Corps General....
, former chairman of the Atlantic Council, stepped down in order to serve as President Obama's new National Security Advisor
The Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, commonly referred to as the National Security Advisor , serves as the chief advisor to the President of the United States on national security issues...
. In addition, Council member Susan Rice left to serve as the administration's ambassador to the UN, Richard Holbrooke
Richard Charles Albert Holbrooke was an American diplomat, magazine editor, author, professor, Peace Corps official, and investment banker....
became the Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, General Eric K. Shinseki became the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and Anne-Marie Slaughter
Anne-Marie Slaughter was the Director of Policy Planning for the U.S. State Department from January 2009 until February 2011. She is the Bert G...
became Director of Policy Planning at the State Department.
The Atlantic Council has earned praise from across the international community, with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Anders Fogh Rasmussen is a Danish politician, and the 12th and current Secretary General of NATO. Rasmussen served as Prime Minister of Denmark from 27 November 2001 to 5 April 2009....
calling the Council a "pre-eminent think tank" with a "longstanding reputation," and US Republican Senator Richard Lugar noting that the Council is "held in high esteem within the Atlantic community."
The Atlantic Council has, since its inception, been a nonpartisan institution with members "from the moderate internationalist wings of both parties." Its current leadership and board of directors reflect a center-left political orientation. At the State Department, Dean Acheson
Dean Gooderham Acheson was an American statesman and lawyer. As United States Secretary of State in the administration of President Harry S. Truman from 1949 to 1953, he played a central role in defining American foreign policy during the Cold War...
once said that "it was not always necessary to support the government but instead to do things that were sensible." Despite its connections, the Council is independent of the US government and NATO.
The Atlantic Council has traditionally been a meeting place for heads of state, military leaders, and international leaders from both sides of the Atlantic. Recently, the Council hosted NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen's first major US speech, in which he discussed issues such as Afghanistan, Russia, and the broader transatlantic relationship. Prominent members of the US Congress have also appeared, including Senators Richard Lugar and John Kerry
John Forbes Kerry is the senior United States Senator from Massachusetts, the 10th most senior U.S. Senator and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party in the 2004 presidential election, but lost to former President George W...
. The Council often hosts events with sitting heads of state and government, including Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili
Mikheil Saakashvili is a Georgian politician, the third and current President of Georgia and leader of the United National Movement Party.Involved in the national politics since 1995, Saakashvili became president on 25 January 2004 after President Eduard Shevardnadze resigned in a November 2003...
, Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko
Viktor Andriyovych Yushchenko is a former President of Ukraine. He took office on January 23, 2005, following a period of popular unrest known as the Orange Revolution...
, and Latvian President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga
Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga was the sixth President of Latvia, the first female President of Latvia and the first female leader in eastern Europe. She was elected President of Latvia in 1999 and re-elected in 2003.Dr...
The Council has hosted many military leaders from both sides of the Atlantic as well. The Program on International Security has since January 2007 held periodic events known as the Commanders Series where it invites military leaders from the United States and Europe to speak about conflicts of interest to the Atlantic community. As part of the Commanders Series, American military leaders such as George Casey and Admiral Timothy Keating and European leaders like French Chief of Defense General Jean-Louis Georgelin
Jean-Louis Georgelin is an Army General . Great Chancellor of the French national order of the Legion of honnor from the 9 June 2010...
and Dutch Major General Ton van Loon
Ton van Loon is a commander from the Netherlands. He is a Lieutenant General employed by NATO who took control of the International Security Assistance Force , Regional Command South on November 1, 2006 until May 1, 2007. As of April 13, 2010, he commands I. German/Dutch Corps...
have spoke on issues as diverse as Iraq, Afghanistan, and security threats in Asia and Africa.
Programs and centers
The Program on Transatlantic Relations promotes dialogue on the major issues that will affect the evolution of the transatlantic relationship. At the heart of the program is the conviction that a healthy transatlantic relationship is an essential prerequisite for a stronger international system. The Council seeks to strengthen the transatlantic relationship by addressing specific areas of policy differences by identifying areas of potential cooperation and by building the personal networks and mutual understanding that form the basis for an effective partnership.
The Council’s Program on International Security examines U.S. relationships with allies and adversaries in an effort to build consensus around policies that contribute to a more stable, secure and well-governed world.
The Global Business and Economics Program works to build upon and strengthen the already deep economic integration between Europe and the United States as well as promote Transatlantic leadership in the global economy. Bringing together top business leaders, government policy makers, and economic experts, the program explores transatlantic and global issues of importance to the U.S. and European business community.
The Atlantic Council's Program on Asia seeks to encourage U.S. leadership and engagement in the Asia-Pacific region to: promote prosperity, security and stability, enhance U.S. cooperation with Asian states on regional issues and global challenges and encourage European-American cooperation on Asian issues.
Under the leadership of Shuja Nawaz, the South Asia Center is the Atlantic Council’s focal point for work on Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan as well as on relations between these countries and China, Central Asia, Iran, the Arab world, Europe and the U.S. As part of the Council's Asia program, the Center seeks to foster partnerships with key institutions in the region to establish iself as a forum for dialogue between decision makers in South Asia, the U.S. and NATO. These deliberations cover internal and external security, governance, trade, economic development, education and other issues.
The Energy and Environment program explores the economic and political aspects of energy security and supply, as well as international environmental issues. It promotes open access and clean air and offers policy recommendations to meet developing countries’ needs through the increased flow of capital, technology and know-how in the energy and water supply sectors.
The Eurasia Energy Center serves as the Atlantic Council’s focal point for work related to Black Sea, Caspian, and Central Asian energy issues, such as pipeline politics, the East-West energy corridor, and east and southeast European energy policies. Security concerns throughout the wider Eurasia region, gas crises, and the continued debate over proposed pipelines into Europe make the Center’s efforts increasingly urgent. The Center works closely with the Atlantic Council’s Energy and Environment Program to provide innovative analysis on regional and international energy geopolitics.
Launched at the 2008 NATO Summit in Bucharest, the Young Atlanticist Network brings together a community of emerging leaders who share a vision of closer Euro-Atlantic cooperation based on common values. Through online tools and regular events, the Young Atlanticist Network serves as a forum for open dialogue between young Atlanticists so they can exchange their views on a range of international issues. As a meeting place, the Network serves as a stage for global leaders to address the next generation and to share the perspective on current issues.
The British-North American Committee (BNAC) is a group of leaders from business, labor, and academia in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada committed to constructive relations among the three countries and their citizens. Its members meet regularly to discuss major economic, scientific and policy issues of mutual concern with top policymakers, scientists and business leaders. The Daily Telegraph has called the Committee "influential" and "highly respected," and its research "authoritative."
Leadership, members, and scholars
- Chuck Hagel, Chairman
- Brent Scowcroft, Chairman of the Atlantic Council International Advisory Board
- Frederick Kempe, President and CEO
- Fran Burwell, Vice President, Director of Transatlantic Relations
- Banning Garrett, Director of Program on Asia
- James Joyner, Managing Editor
- John Lyman, Director of Energy & Environment
- Alexei Monsarrat, Director of Global Business & Economics
- Shuja Nawaz, Director of South Asia Center
- Anna Eliasson Schamis, Anna Eliasson Schamis, Vice President, Development and External Relations
- Damon Wilson, Executive Vice President, Director of International Security
- Robert Abernethy
Robert Abernethy was an Australian swimmer specialising in freestyle sprint events. He is best known for winning the bronze medal at the inaugural 1993 FINA Short Course World Championships in Palma de Mallorca, Spain...
- Timothy D. Adams
Timothy Dees Adams , usually referred to as Tim Adams, became the Under Secretary for International Affairs at the United States Department of the Treasury on August 2, 2005. He submitted his resignation via letter to George W...
- Ralph Bahna
- Wesley K. Clark
- Paula Dobriansky
Paula Jon Dobriansky is an American foreign policy expert who has served in key roles as a diplomat and policy maker in the administrations of five U.S. presidents, both Democrat and Republican. She is a specialist in the areas of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union as well as...
- Henry Kissinger
Heinz Alfred "Henry" Kissinger is a German-born American academic, political scientist, diplomat, and businessman. He is a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. He served as National Security Advisor and later concurrently as Secretary of State in the administrations of Presidents Richard Nixon and...
- Judith Miller
Judith Miller is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist, formerly of the New York Times Washington bureau. Her coverage of Iraq's alleged Weapons of Mass Destruction program both before and after the 2003 invasion generated much controversy...
- Alexander Mirtchev
- James Schlesinger
- David A. Wilson
- Maciej Witucki
- R. James Woolsey
- Dov S. Zakheim
- Anthony C. Zinni