David J. Kramer
David J. Kramer
|Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor|
March 21, 2008 – January 20, 2009
|President||George W. Bush|
|Preceded by||Barry Lowenkron|
|Succeeded by||Michael H. Posner|
David J. Kramer was United States Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor from 2008 to 2009. He was President of Freedom House from October 2010 to November 2014. He is currently a non-resident fellow at the McCain Institute.
Life and career
David J. Kramer was born in Malden, Massachusetts in December 1964 to Jewish parents. He grew up in Middleborough, Massachusetts where he studied Russian in high school. He was educated at Tufts University, receiving his B.A. in Soviet Studies and Political Science in 1986. His advisor there was Sally Terry. Kramer then went on to get his M.A. in Soviet Studies in 1988 at Harvard University.
After university, Kramer was a Lecturer in Russian Studies at Clark University, a Teaching Fellow for Adam Ulam at Harvard University, and a consultant for Arthur D. Little in Cambridge, Massachusetts. During the collapse of the Soviet Union, he was an analyst for The Christian Science Monitor Network.
In 1990 Kramer, his brother Mark Kramer, Nicholas Daniloff, Natalie Rumer, and other associates from the Russian Research Center at Harvard opened a consulting business called the Cambridge East-West Consulting Group Inc.. The business did not last long, however. Kramer moved to Washington, D.C., and began working at the Center for Strategic and International Studies for Stephen Sestanovich in 1993, on Ulam's recommendation. He followed Sestanovich to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, becoming Associate Director of the Russian and Eurasian Program there, and setting up the Carnegie Moscow Center.
He worked briefly as a Senior Fellow at the Project for the New American Century, before joining the United States Department of State as Executive Director of the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy in April 2000. He next served as Special Advisor to the Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky, from June 2001 to October 2003. Kramer then became a professional staff member for the Policy Planning Staff. From July 2005 to March 2008, he was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs under Dan Fried. While there Kramer worked on issues related to Belarus, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, and nonproliferation.
In 2008, President of the United States George W. Bush nominated Kramer as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, and, after Senate confirmation, he held this office from March 21, 2008 to January 20, 2009. While there he led the resumption of the human rights dialogue with the Chinese, traveling to Beijing in May 2008. He spent much of his time at this post traveling to places like Hanoi, Vietnam, twice to Ethiopia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia, among others.
Kramer left his position at the State Department during the transition in January 2009, and became a Senior Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund. He went on to become executive director of Freedom House on October 4, 2010. On June 18, 2014 Freedom House announced that Kramer planned to resign that fall. On October 1, 2014 Freedom House announced that Mark P. Lagon would replace him in 2015.
In February 2013, Kramer caused controversy at the bicentennial North American Invitational Model United Nations, when Kramer's opening keynote speech, which was rife with incrimination of the Chinese citizenry for obsequiousness towards the Chinese government and Communist Party, incited a walkout of 300 Chinese visitors, prompting Kramer to cut the much-advertised speech short. Kramer has since pushed back on the backlash, suggesting that the Chinese students who were invited to the event are close to the Chinese political elite, and that their walkout only reinforced the point of his remarks. Later, Kramer suggested that students close to authoritarian power groups should not have been invited to an event focused on the promotion of peace and diplomacy.
Mr. Kramer currently serves as a member of the board of directors of the Halifax International Security Forum and a Member of the Advisory Council for the George W. Bush Presidential Center's Human Freedom Project, as well as a member of the International Advisory Council at the Center for European Policy Analysis.
In his book, Back to Containment, published in 2017, Kramer excoriated various elder statesmen of the United States, such as Henry Kissinger, for undertaking hybrid back-channel efforts to re-approach Russia, accusing them of naivete and violation of the Logan Act. Kramer contends that these actions undermined American security vis-a-vis Russia and the region, citing Kissinger's inclusion into Myrotvorets, Ukraine's semi-official blacklist.
In 2018, he was on a list of Americans to be questioned by the Russian government. David Kramer, the then-Sen. John McCain aide who leaked the Christopher Steele dossier on President Trump, testified in a libel case that he spread to journalists the contents of the Steele dossier during the presidential transition. Kramer was identified as the source of the dossier in a recently unsealed deposition related to the libel case brought by Russian businessman Aleksej Gubarev against Buzzfeed.
In two separate op-eds for Politico Magazine in 2016 and 2021, Kramer called for the most edgewise brinkmanship in tailoring new policy towards Russia, especially on the domestic side. While Kramer argued in his first op-ed that all employees of Russian propaganda outlets should be expelled from the United States, his second op-ed expanded this argument in favor of expulsion of "all Russian nationals even very tangentially, indirectly connected to the Russian oligarchy or the hostile Russian state".
- "David J. Kramer". McCain Institute. November 2014. Archived from the original on 15 December 2014. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
- "Cambridge East-West Consulting Group, Inc". opencorporates.com. Retrieved 2019-07-01.
- "Leading Expert on Ukraine Appointed to Head Freedom House". U.S.-Ukraine Business Council. 16 September 2010. Archived from the original on 27 September 2013. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
- "Freedom House Announces Search for New President". freedomhouse.org. 2014-06-18. Retrieved 2019-07-01.
- "Mark P. Lagon to Become President of Freedom House". freedomhouse.org. 2014-10-01. Retrieved 2019-07-01.
- "McCain Institute Welcomes David J. Kramer as Senior Director for Human Rights and Human Freedom". McCain Institute. Retrieved 2019-07-01.
- "David J. Kramer; Senior Director for Human Rights and Democracy". McCain Institute. Archived from the original on December 15, 2014. Retrieved July 31, 2016.
- "Our Freedom of Speech". Huffington Post. February 28, 2013. Retrieved 2 March 2014.
- "Board of Directors". Halifax International Security Forum. Retrieved 2019-07-01.
- "Our mission". Ukraine Today. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
- David J. Kramer (28 April 2016). "The Best Ways to Help Ukraine". The American Interest. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
- Kramer, David J. (2017). Back to Containment. Phoenix, AZ: McCain Institute. p. 72. ISBN 9781370363766.
- "Trump to Invite Putin to Washington as Top Advisers Seek Details of Their Summit Talks". Retrieved 2018-07-20.
- "John McCain associate farmed steele dossier to Journos (but was shocked that it was actually published for some reason)".
- https://www.politico.eu/article/russia-sanctions-obama-putin-trump-gop-turn-up-heat/[bare URL]
- https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2021/09/04/us-president-putin-russia-democracy-504417[bare URL]
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- State Department Profile
- KFC: North American Invitational Model United Nations: NAIMUN 50 - February 18, 2013
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- January 2011 Interview