National Security & Energy Policy
Elliott Abrams has served three Republican presidents in various critical national security and policy roles including, most recently, United States Special Representative to Iran and Venezuela. In this speech, Abrams discusses the critical issues shaping U.S. foreign policy in these regions, including energy security, sanctions, and the risks of volatility.
U.S. Foreign Policy Challenges Ahead
The U.S. faces many adversaries in the Middle East and in the Islamic world, among them terrorist groups who have access to modern military technology, including WMDs and the means to deliver them. From the conflicts in Gaza to Iran’s nuclear program to the war in Syria, this region remains a source of instability and danger. Mr. Abrams offers a timely and important contribution to the discussion of U.S. foreign policy and the directions that must be taken to keep America safe. He draws upon an acute understanding of American history and his own senior-level experience making foreign policy in the Reagan and Bush (43) administrations.
Inside the Middle East
Drawing on his years as a top White House adviser on Middle Eastern issues, Mr. Abrams blends historical context with keen insight to address the most up-to-date developments in this troubled region. His thoughtful analysis of the obstacles ahead will leave audiences with an insider's perspective on the conflicts and prospects for peace.
Elliott Abrams in the news
Elliott Abrams’ new book on foreign policy in the Middle East receives high praise
Renowned foreign affairs expert ELLIOTT ABRAMS has released a critically acclaimed new book, Realism and Democracy: American Foreign Policy after the Arab Spring. Drawing on four decades of experience as an American official and Middle East expert, Abrams takes us inside his work with leaders like Scoop Jackson, Pat Moynihan, George Shultz and Ronald Regan, to reveal a personal story of the development of U.S. human rights policy. With careful, sharp analysis of America’s record in the Middle East and beyond, Realism and Democracy presents an argument, both “realist” and principled, for supporting the expansion of democracy in the Middle East. Praise for the book has poured in from America’s most trusted foreign policy experts: “Elliott Abrams has done the country another important service. This outstanding book reminds us that the enduring power of America is that, at our best, we see our interests as our values, and our values as our interests. Now more than ever, Americans and their leaders need to understand that support for human rights has been, and should remain, a key pillar of U.S. foreign policy. This book could not be more timely or more significant” (Senator John McCain); “Elliott Abrams gives us a brilliant review of the fight for freedom, showing with clarity what works and what does not. But even more, he highlights the possibilities for progress that may be gained from a determined, long-term strategy advocating democracy and human rights” (The Honorable George P. Shultz). Delivering remarks on the book at Georgetown University’s Andrew H. Siegel Memorial Lecture, The Alexander Hamilton Society, and Freedom House, Abrams brings his tremendous breadth of experience and powerful argument to life for any audience.Watch Abrams discussing Realism and Democracy >>
Blog on Council on Foreign Relations
Elliott Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.Read more...
Elliott Abrams is senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in Washington, DC. He served as deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor in the administration of President George W. Bush, where he supervised U.S. policy in the Middle East for the White House, and as Special Representative for Iran and Venezuela in the administration of Donald Trump.
Abrams was educated at Harvard College, the London School of Economics, and Harvard Law School. After serving on the staffs of Senators Henry M. Jackson and Daniel P. Moynihan, he was an assistant secretary of state in the Reagan administration and received the secretary of state's Distinguished Service Award from Secretary George P. Shultz. In 2012, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy gave him its Scholar-Statesman Award.
Abrams was president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, DC, from 1996 until joining the White House staff. He was a member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom from 1999 to 2001 and chairman of the commission in the latter year, and served a second term as a member of the Commission in 2012-2014. From 2009 to 2016, Abrams was a member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, which directs the activities of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. He is a member of the board of the National Endowment for Democracy, and teaches U.S. foreign policy at Georgetown University's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.
Abrams joined the Bush administration in June 2001 as special assistant to the president and senior director of the National Security Council for democracy, human rights, and international organizations. From December 2002 to February 2005, he served as special assistant to the president and senior director of the National Security Council for Near East and North African affairs. He served as deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor for global democracy strategy from February 2005 to January 2009, and in that capacity supervised both the Near East and North African affairs and the democracy, human rights, and international organizations directorates of the National Security Council.
Abrams rejoined the State Department in January 2019 as Special Representative for Venezuela, and in August 2020 took on the additional position of Special Representative for Iran. He left the Department in January 2021.
Abrams is the author of five books: Undue Process, Security and Sacrifice, Faith or Fear: How Jews Can Survive in a Christian America, Tested by Zion: The Bush Administration and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, and most recently Realism and Democracy: American Foreign Policy After the Arab Spring. He is the editor of three more, Close Calls: Intervention, Terrorism, Missile Defense and "Just War" Today; Honor Among Nations: Intangible Interests and Foreign Policy; and The Influence of Faith: Religious Groups and U.S. Foreign Policy.
He is fluent in French and Spanish.