Atlantic Council

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Atlantic Council
Formation 1961; 57 years ago (1961)
Type International affairs think tank
Headquarters 1030 15th Street, NW
12th floor
Washington, DC
Jon Huntsman, Jr.
President & CEO
Frederick Kempe

The Atlantic Council is an American think tank in the field of international affairs. Founded in 1961, it provides a forum for international political, business, and intellectual leaders. It manages ten regional centers and functional programs related to international security and global economic prosperity. It is headquartered in Washington, D.C.. It is a member of the Atlantic Treaty Association.


The Atlantic Council was founded with the stated mission to encourage the continuation of cooperation between North America and Europe that began after World War II. 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.[1]

Although the Atlantic Council did publish policy papers and monographs, Melvin Small of Wayne State University wrote that, especially in its early years, the Council's real strength lay 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".[1]

The Atlantic Council also works outside Europe and the U.S. It was among the first organizations advocating an increased Japanese presence in the international community. Its Asian programs have expanded since 2001 as a consequence of the war in Afghanistan leading to the opening of its South Asia Center and Program on Asia. Climate change, and coordinating with India and China on these issues, were also a factor in this development.[1][2]

In February 2009, James L. Jones, then-chairman of the Atlantic Council, stepped down in order to serve as President Obama's new National Security Advisor and was succeeded by Senator Chuck Hagel.[3] In addition, other Council members also left to serve the administration: Susan Rice as ambassador to the UN, Richard Holbrooke as the Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, General Eric K. Shinseki as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and Anne-Marie Slaughter as Director of Policy Planning at the State Department. Four years later, Hagel stepped down to serve as US Secretary of Defense. Gen. Brent Scowcroft served as interim chairman of the organization's Board of Directors until January 2014, when former ambassador to China and governor of Utah Jon Huntsman, Jr.[4] was appointed.

Former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen called the Council a "pre-eminent think tank" with a "longstanding reputation",[5] and former U.S. Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) noted that the Council is "held in high esteem within the Atlantic community".[6]

In September 2014, The Atlantic Council hired Call of Duty: Black Ops series director Dave Anthony as a nonresident senior fellow.[7]

In 2017, Tom Bossert, previously a Nonresident Zurich Cyber Risk Fellow at the Atlantic Council's Cyber Security Initiative, was appointed Homeland Security Advisor to the Trump administration.

Connections and funding[edit]

The Atlantic Council has, since its inception, stated it is a nonpartisan institution, with members "from the moderate internationalist wings of both parties" in the United States.[8] Despite its connections, the Council is by charter independent of the U.S. government and NATO, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.[9]

In September 2014, The New York Times reported that since 2008, the organization has received donations from more than twenty-five governments outside of the United States, including $5 million from Norway. The New York Times accused foreign governments of buying influence.[10] Concerned that scholars from the organization could be covertly trying to push the agendas of foreign governments, legislation was proposed in response to The New York Times report requiring full disclosure of witnesses testifying before Congress.[11]

The Atlantic Council has worked with FedEx to promote a free trade agreement FedEx hoped will help its business. FedEx funded a report commissioned by the Atlantic Council on the agreement which led The New York Times to accuse it of buying influence.[12]

In 2015 and 2016, the three largest donators (each giving $1 million USD or more) were businesswoman Adrienne Arsht, Lebanese billionaire Bahaa Hariri (whose brother is the present Prime Minister of Lebanon), and the United Arab Emirates.[13][14]


The Atlantic Council creates a meeting place for heads of state, military leaders, and international leaders from both sides of the Atlantic. Recently, the Council hosted former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen's first major U.S. speech, in which he discussed issues such as Afghanistan, Russia, and the broader transatlantic relationship.[15] Members of the U.S. Congress have also appeared, including Senator Richard Lugar and Secretary of State John Kerry.[16][17] The Council hosts events with sitting heads of state and government, including former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili,[18] Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk,[19] and former Latvian President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga.[20]

The Council has hosted military leaders from both sides of the Atlantic as well. The Brent Scowcroft Center 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.[21] As part of the Commanders Series, American military leaders such as former General George Casey[22] and former Admiral Timothy Keating[23] and European leaders like former French Chief of Defense General Jean-Louis Georgelin[24] and Dutch Lieutenant General Ton van Loon[25] have spoken on issues such as Iraq, Afghanistan, and security threats in Asia and Africa.

Its annual events include the Distinguished Leadership Awards in Washington, DC; the Future Leaders Summit;[26] the Global Citizen Awards in New York City; the Freedom Awards in Wroclaw, Poland; and the Atlantic Council Energy & Economic Summit in Istanbul, Turkey.

Programs and centers[edit]

Launched at the 2008 Bucharest summit, 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.[27]

The Young Atlanticist Network also manages the Future Leaders program. The Council hosted the 2014 Future Leaders Summit on the side-lines of the NATO 2014 Wales summit. This Future Leaders Summit connected emerging leaders from NATO member countries with one another, the Alliance's current leaders, people from the international security sphere, and a global network of peers.[27]

The Program on Transatlantic Relations promotes dialogue on the major issues that will affect the evolution of the transatlantic relationship. It believes that a healthy transatlantic relationship is an essential prerequisite for a stronger international system. The Council seeks to identify areas of potential cooperation and build the personal networks and mutual understanding that form the basis for an effective partnership.[28]

The Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center 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.[29]

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 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.[30]

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 itself 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.[31]

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 increased capital, technology and know-how in the energy and water supply sectors.[32]

The Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center fosters dialogue among regional leaders, as well with counterparts from key neighbors and global leaders. Combining an understanding of Eurasia's history with knowledge of politics, economics and energy, the Center provides research and advice to governments and businesses. It seeks to promote an agenda of regional cooperation and integration based on shared values and common interest in a free, prosperous and peaceful future.[33]

The Africa Center was established in September 2009 with a mission to help transform U.S. and European policy approaches to Africa by emphasizing the building of strong geopolitical partnerships with African states and strengthening economic growth and prosperity on the continent.[34]

George W. Bush at the Atlantic Council 2018

The Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East seeks to produce analysis of the forces transforming the region, as well as policy recommendations for the United States and Europe about how to promote closer and more productive relations with the region.[35]

The Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center promotes a stronger partnership between Latin America, the United States, and Europe based on shared values and common strategic interests, and engages its network of political, business, and NGO entrepreneurs to develop ideas for policy and business leaders seeking solutions to regional and global challenges.[36]

The Adrienne Arsht Center for Resilience is the Council's newest center and was established in April of 2017. The Center works to build resilience – the ability to prepare for, absorb, and recover from potential challenges – into our societies and our systems. It develops pragmatic recommendations to put ideas into practice – helping governments, cities, businesses and other leaders to identify and address challenges before they become crises.[37]


Jon Huntsman, Chairman
Fred Kempe, President


The Atlantic Council produces publications and issue briefs about global policy issues ranging from NATO's global role to energy security.[39]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Small, Melvin (1 June 1998). "The Atlantic Council--The Early Years" (PDF). NATO. Retrieved 15 November 2015. 
  2. ^ "Admiral Timothy Keating Event Transcript". Atlantic Council. Retrieved 15 November 2015. 
  3. ^ Allen, Mike (11 February 2009). "Politico Playbook - Exclusive: Senator Hagel succeeds Gen. Jones at Atlantic Council". Politico. Retrieved 15 November 2015. 
  4. ^ Howell, Tom (16 January 2014). "Jon Huntsman tapped as Atlantic Council chairman". The Washington Times. Retrieved 16 January 2014. 
  5. ^ [1] Archived November 24, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ [2] Archived June 6, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ Drennan, Justine (September 22, 2014). "Call of Duty: Star Video Game Director Takes Unusual Think Tank Job". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 15 November 2015. 
  8. ^ Melvin Small, "The Atlantic Council — The Early Years," page 21 (Wayne State University: June 1, 1998)
  9. ^ "Confronting Far-Right Extremism in Europe", Atlantic Council. March 22, 2016. Retrieved 9 feb 2017
  10. ^ Lipton, Eric; Williams, Brooke; Confessore, Nicholas (6 September 2014). "Foreign Powers Buy Influence at Think Tanks". New York Times. Retrieved 31 January 2015. 
  11. ^ "Proposal Would Require Think Tanks to Disclose Funding by Foreign Governments", Eric Lipton. New York Times. September 17, 2014. Retrieved 9 feb 2017
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Honor Roll of Contributors" for 2015, Atlantic Council
  14. ^ "Honor Roll of Contributors" for 2016, Atlantic Council
  15. ^ NATO Secretary General Rasmussen: First Major U.S. Speech Archived September 28, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., Atlantic Council, 28 September 2009
  16. ^ Senator Richard Lugar: Congressional Perspective on the Future of NATO Archived September 28, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., Atlantic Council, 28 September 2009
  17. ^ Kerry and Hagel Unveil Atlantic Council's Pakistan Report Archived July 18, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., Atlantic Council, 25 February 2009
  18. ^ Council Hosts Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili Archived February 15, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., Atlantic Council, 24 September 2008
  19. ^ Webcast: Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Atlantic Council, 12 March 2014
  20. ^ Young Atlanticist Discussion with President Vaira Vike-Freiberga Archived July 18, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., Atlantic Council, 3 May 2007
  21. ^ Commanders Series Archived October 5, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., Atlantic Council
  22. ^ General Casey: Complex Operations and Counterinsurgency Archived July 17, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., Atlantic Council, 28 May 2009
  23. ^ Admiral Timothy Keating: Asia-Pacific Security Challenges Archived July 18, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., Atlantic Council, 29 June 2009
  24. ^ General Jean-Louis Georgelin: France in NATO Archived July 17, 2010, at the Wayback Machine., Atlantic Council, 10 September 2009
  25. ^ Ton van Loon: Taliban Have Lost the War Archived July 19, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., Atlantic Council, 5 June 2007
  26. ^
  27. ^ a b "Young Atlanticist Program". Atlantic Council. Archived from the original on 2 December 2014. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  28. ^ "Transatlantic Relations Program". Atlantic Council. Archived from the original on 2 December 2014. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  29. ^ "Brent Scowcroft Center". Atlantic Council. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  30. ^ "Global Business and Economics". Atlantic Council. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  31. ^ "South Asia Center". Atlantic Council. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  32. ^ "Energy and Environment". Atlantic Council. Archived from the original on 24 November 2014. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  33. ^ "Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center". Atlantic Council. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  34. ^ "Africa Center". Atlantic Council. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  35. ^ "Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East". Atlantic Council. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  36. ^ "Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center". Atlantic Council. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  37. ^ "Adrienne Arsht Center for Resilience". Atlantic Council. Retrieved 29 March 2018. 
  38. ^ "Healey, Jason". Retrieved 2014-04-22. 
  39. ^ "Publications". Atlantic Council. The Atlantic Council. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 

External links[edit]