Danielle Pletka

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Danielle Pletka
Born (1963-06-12) June 12, 1963 (age 57)
NationalityUnited States
Australian until 1994
Alma materSmith College (B.A.)
Johns Hopkins University (M.A.)
OccupationSenior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute
Spouse(s)Stephen Rademaker

Danielle Pletka is an American conservative commentator. She is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a conservative think tank, and the former vice president for foreign and defense policy at AEI. She concurrently holds the Andrew H. Siegal Professorship in American Middle Eastern Foreign Policy at Georgetown University's Center for Jewish Civilization. From 1992 to 2002, Pletka was a senior professional staff member at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, working for Republican Jesse Helms.

A neoconservative, Pletka staunchly supported the Iraq War, holds hawkish views on Iran, defends the use of torture, and rejects the scientific consensus on climate change.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Australia, Pletka grew up in Boston[2] and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1994.[3]

Pletka earned her B.A. (history major) at Smith College in 1984[4] and her M.A. at Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of the Johns Hopkins University.[5]


Pletka was editorial assistant with the Los Angeles Times and Reuters, working in Jerusalem from 1984 to 1985. She worked as a staff writer for Insight on the News.[6]

Pletka worked as Senior Professional Staff Member for the Near East and South Asia at the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, for Republican Chairman (and ranking member) Senator Jesse Helms from 1992–2002.[7][8][9][10]

In March 2002 Pletka was hired by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a conservative Washington, DC think tank, as vice president for foreign and defense policy.[11][12] At the time of her hiring, The Washington Post described her as "a staunch conservative with a caustic manner."[11] According to Howard J. Wiarda, the fact that Pletka was not a scholar herself created some tension within AEI after she took over the role from Jeane Kirkpatrick, who had a Ph.D and was a full professor at Columbia University.[13] Pletka stepped down as vice president for foreign and defense policy in January 2020, but remains a senior fellow at the institute.[7] She is also the Andrew H. Siegel Professor on American Middle Eastern Foreign Policy at Georgetown University's Walsh School of Foreign Service.

Pletka co-hosts, with Marc Thiessen, the AEI podcast What the Hell is Going On?[14]


Pletka has been described as a prominent neoconservative by Eli Lake,[15] although Howard J. Wiarda described her as not a neoconservative.[13] In a 2008 commentary, Jacob Heilbrunn said that, "Pletka has been closely identified with neocon positions on Iraq and Iran. But now there is tremendous hostility toward her among neocons, who allege that, as a former staffer for Jesse Helms, who embodied more traditional Republican foreign-policy precepts, she is out to extirpate neocon influence at AEI."[16]

Pletka strongly supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq.[17][15] Pletka was a strong supporter of controversial Iraqi opposition leader Ahmed Chalabi, who was the subject of a U.S. government investigation into allegations that he turned over highly classified information to the Iranian government (allegations that Chalabi denied).[6] Pletka acknowledged that Chalabi was "close to the Iranian government" and had "questionable" associates, but nonetheless asserted that Chalabi saying had been "shoddily" treated and that CIA and U.S. State Department personnel had fought "a rear guard" action against him.[18] She supported the Iraq War troop surge of 2007, crediting it as a successful counterinsurgency strategy,[19] and criticized President Obama's withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011.[20] In a 2013 retrospective, Pletka stated that she did not regret her support for the 2003 invasion or her opposition to the 2011 withdrawal, although she acknowledged that the U.S. had made mistakes in Iraq.[15]

Pletka has argued that the U.S. should adopt a policy of regime change toward Iran, although not through military intervention.[8] In testimony in 2019 before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Pletka argued that the U.S. should seek "to provide sufficient support, incentives and disincentives to ensure the limitation of Iranian reach" in Iraq, and to "end all involvement" of Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Forces militias in the Iraqi government.[21] Pletka opposed the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran reached during the Obama administration,[22] but opposed President Trump's move to withdraw the U.S. from the agreement, writing that "dumping the nuclear agreement in Congress's lap may be the worst possible option."[23]

Pletka rejects the scientific consensus on global warming.[24] She has argued that there is "hysteria" over the topic of climate change and that mainstream media narratives fail to account for "global cooling". Pletka falsely claimed that 2016 and 2017 were the two coldest years on record over a 100-year period; in fact, climate data show those two years to be among the warmest years.[24] In a November 2018 appearance on the Sunday morning talk show Meet the Press, Pletka cast doubt on the scientific validity behind a recently released report by the U.S. government on projected economic damages caused by climate change; NBC's invitation to Pletka to appear on the show was criticized by Jon Allsop, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review, and Jack Holmes, politics editor at Esquire magazine.[17][25][26]

In 2005, Pletka described herself as "not a big fan of torture" but suggested its use was justifiable under certain circumstances in wartime, when "if it is absolutely imperative to find something out at that moment."[27] In 2014, Pletka criticized the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture, which condemned the CIA for engaging in torture techniques. Pletka described the report as "Feinstein's partisan screed" and argued that the CIA techniques provided actionable intelligence and were legally allowed by the Justice Department.[28]

In 2020, she wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that she "may be forced to vote for" incumbent Republican President Donald Trump because "he wears his sins on the outside" while Pletka feared that the Democratic nominee Joe Biden "would begin an assault on the institutions of government that preserve the nation’s small 'd' democracy."[29] This op-ed was lampooned by Washington Post columnist Alexandra Petri in a piece entitled "I can’t believe you’re forcing me to vote for Trump, which I definitely didn’t already want to do."[30]

Personal life[edit]

Pletka is married to Stephen Rademaker, who was Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation (including head of the Bureau of Arms Control) in the George W. Bush presidential administration.[31][32][11]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ National Journal (1999), Vol. 31, p. 1804.
  3. ^ Danielle Pletka, The Most Special Nation, American Enterprise Institute (July 2, 1992).
  4. ^ "People News". Smith College. August 28, 2018. Retrieved 2020-04-26. Danielle Pletka ’84 is co-author of “Partnership in Peril: The Populist Assault on the Transatlantic Community,” published by the Center for American Progress. Pletka, who is senior vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, majored in history at Smith.
  5. ^ "Danielle Pletka". UCLA Burkle Center. UCLA. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  6. ^ a b Roston, Aram (2008). The Man Who Pushed America to War: The Extraordinary Life, Adventures and Obsessions of Ahmad Chalabi. New York: Nation Books. pp. 33–34, 154. ISBN 9781568583532.
  7. ^ a b Profile: Danielle Pletka, Senior Fellow, American Enterprise Institute (last accessed March 2, 2020).
  8. ^ a b Pollack, Kenneth (2014). Unthinkable: Iran, the Bomb, and American Strategy. Simon & Schuster. pp. 158–59. ISBN 9781476733937.
  9. ^ Collier, Peter (2012). Political Woman: The Big Little Life of Jeane Kirkpatrick. New York: Encounter Books. pp. 204–205. ISBN 9781594036040.
  10. ^ Podhoretz, John (1994-12-04). "Helms: A Contrarian Who Never Forgets, or Forgives". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-04-20.
  11. ^ a b c "Overtaxed Underwear and the Toll of Tariffs". Washington Post. 26 March 2002. ProQuest 409241450.
  12. ^ Achenbach, Joel (18 April 2004). "A Firm Show Of 'Resolve'". Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-04-20.
  13. ^ a b Wiarda, Howard J. (2009). Conservative Brain Trust: The Rise, Fall, and Rise Again of the American Enterprise Institute. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books. p. 300. ISBN 9780739133057.
  14. ^ What the Hell Is Going On, American Enterprise Institute.
  15. ^ a b c Lake, Eli (March 18, 2013). "Few Regrets As Neoconservative Advocates For Iraq Invasion Look Back". The Daily Beast.
  16. ^ Jacob Heilbrunn, Flight of the Neocons, National Interest (December 19, 2008).
  17. ^ a b "Meet The Press Booking a Denier to Discuss Climate Change Is a Portrait of Our Dangerously Dumb Times". Esquire. 2018-11-26. Retrieved 2018-11-27.
  18. ^ Elisabeth Bumiller, Conservative Allies Take Chalabi Case to the White House, New York Times (May 29, 2004).
  19. ^ Danielle Pletka, Gauging merits of Iraqi withdrawal, Philadelphia Inquirer (March 8, 2009).
  20. ^ Danielle Pletka, We got out of Iraq too soon, USA Today (December 27, 2011).
  21. ^ Danielle Pletka, Testimony: Assessing US policy priorities in the Middle East, U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs (April 3, 2019).
  22. ^ Danielle Pletka, Iran deal misses the point, CNN (July 14, 2015)
  23. ^ Danielle Pletka, President Trump's Failing Leadership on Iran, New York Times (October 6, 2017).
  24. ^ a b John Kruzel (November 28, 2020). "Recent cold spells irrelevant to climate change big picture". PolitiFact.
  25. ^ Jon Allsop. "The press won't let Trump bury climate change. But it is still complicit". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  26. ^ "Climate change coverage — 'How a free press can die' — Shine's Fox payout — Joe and Mika wed". POLITICO Media. Retrieved 2018-11-27.
  27. ^ Dan Isaacs, US suspects 'face torture overseas', BBC News (June 14, 2005).
  28. ^ Danielle Pletka, The C.I.A. Report Is Too Tainted to Matter The New York Times, December 9, 2014.
  29. ^ Pletka, Danielle. "Opinion | I never considered voting for Trump in 2016. I may be forced to vote for him this year". Washington Post.
  30. ^ Petri, Alexandra. "Opinion | I can't believe you're forcing me to vote for Trump, which I definitely didn't already want to do". Washington Post.
  31. ^ "The Washington Note," May 2005 http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/2005/05/
  32. ^ Silverstein, Ken (2 January 2015). "How the Iraq War Financed a Beltway Real Estate Boom". The Intercept. Retrieved 8 May 2017.

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