Robert Kaplan

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Robert Kaplan is a writer for The Atlantic, a Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), to which he came from serving as the Class of 1960 Distinguished Visiting Professor in National Security at the United States Naval Academy. At CNAS, he is working on a book on the future of the Indian Ocean region and its importance for the future of energy supplies, national security and global primacy in the 21st century.[1] He is on the Defense Policy Board and the board of advisers of the Foreign Policy Research Institute.

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman calls Kaplan among the four “most widely read” authors defining the post-Cold War era (along with Francis Fukuyama, the late Harvard Professor Samuel Huntington, and Yale Professor Paul Kennedy). He is the recipient of the 2001 Greenway-Winship Award for Excellence in international reporting and in 2002, and he received the United States State Department Distinguished Public Service Award.

World and regional politics

For the Foreign Policy Research Institute, he was rapporteur of a symposium on "The New Balance of Power." [2] He had returned from a trip with India, and commented that there was little concern there with the Iraq War, but intense interest in Pakistan and China: it was all about "Asian balance-of-power politics. India and China, which share a long land border and therefore have to maintain stable relations, are inexorably coming into competition with each other." He defined the role of Europe and NATO, in an "Asian century", as challenged by a vision of "militaries as suited for peacekeeping and other non-combat related duties. And yet because of its economic power, Europe will continue to be a military power in the future... If the U.S. is going to be in strategic competition with China and is going to quietly, subtly leverage countries like India and Japan, or South Korea and Australia, against China, the U.S. will continue to need a partnership with Europe. NATO may not be able to do everything the U.S. hoped it would, Kaplan acknowledged, but it is still the better option than the U.S. going it alone."

He sees the U.S. military as having to maintain flexibility and not overemphasize counterinsurgency, even though CNAS is a center that focuses on counterinsurgency." The U.S.will increasingly depend on its air force and navy to patrol large spaces around the world, while the army and marine corps experiment at the unconventional edges of conflict. The air force and navy are going to have no choice but to utilize coalition-building and alliances with other air forces and navies around the world." In particular, he said, that India would "like to dominate the Indian Ocean from Mozambique all the way to Indonesia...But they cannot do that except as part of an alliance with the U.S. navy and air force. One major military development of the past year was an exercise off the coast of India in which India and the U.S. and also the navies and air forces of Japan and Australia took part, sort of the Malabar exercises of democracy. The Chinese took umbrage at this, seeing it for what it was: a group of countries balancing against them. But America cannot assume that it can crudely lever two democracies, India and Japan, against China, because China is the largest trading partner for both those countries."


He has discussed the role of the bazaari class in the politics of Iran specifically, but also in the Muslim Brotherhood."[3]

In the "new geopolitics", "The U.S. has to find a way gradually, with carrots and sticks, to open up Iran and have some sort of normalized relationship with that country. The rest of the world is not going to wait the U.S. out, but is moving closer to Iran and Russia, because crude oil petroleum prices are going to continue to go up over the long run because of the growth of middle classes around the world."[2]


Recently, he wrote about the Obama Administration "losing patience with Israel", and moving to a more realist position. [4]


"Africa represents the last untapped global food market in the world, because commodity prices are going to gradually go up, too, for basic foodstuffs, again because of the growth of the middle class in the developing world. And so we have China investing in Africa more and more." Even if India and China are eliminated, Africa had higher GDP growth than Asia. [2]