R. Clarke Cooper
R. Clarke Cooper
|19th Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs|
May 2, 2019 – January 20, 2021
|Preceded by||Puneet Talwar|
|Succeeded by||Jessica Lewis|
|Born||New Mexico, U.S.|
|Spouse||Michael J. Marin|
|Alma mater||Florida State University (B.Sc)|
R. Clarke Cooper is an American diplomat and combat veteran who served as the 19th Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs from 2019 to 2021. Cooper is currently a Nonresident Senior Fellow with the Atlantic Council focusing on the Middle East.
Early life and career
Cooper was born in New Mexico when his late father was assigned to the White Sands Missile Range. He was raised in North Florida where he attained the rank of Eagle Scout and served as student body president of Leon High School in Tallahassee, Florida. He earned a Bachelor of Science in history from Florida State University. There, he was senior class president, president of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, and rowed for the men's heavy weight crew.
Immediately following graduation from FSU in 1994, Cooper joined the Washington, D.C. legislative staff of Florida Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. He then worked with her husband, former U.S. Attorney Dexter Lehtinen, as an agent for the Miccosukee Tribe. During these years, Cooper become involved in Republican Party politics and campaigns including serving as a national committeeman for the Young Republicans.
Cooper served as a field coordinator for former Florida Governor Jeb Bush's successful 1998 gubernatorial campaign against Buddy MacKay, and was appointed deputy director of the State of Florida's Washington Office. There he advanced state interests before the United States Congress and federal agencies. Cooper served on the state's negotiating team for the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) alongside Governor Bush, Secretary of Environmental Protection David Struhs, and Everglades Czar, J. Allison DeFoor
While serving Governor Bush, Cooper was recruited into the U.S. Army Reserve. Cooper accepted an officer commission in August 2001 at Fort Meade, Maryland. He graduated from the U.S. Army Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia and the Intelligence School at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. In 2004 he deployed to Iraq on active duty with Combined Joint Task Force-7 and later Multi-National Force Iraq (MNF-I). In Iraq, Cooper served as Aide-de-Camp to the late Major General Charles H. Davidson IV. While Aide to Davidson, Cooper was known for actively advocating for the protection of archeological sites and artifacts, particularly the ancient city of Babylon.
In 2013, Cooper returned to active military service with Special Operations Command Africa. While serving in East Africa in 2015 as the Senior Intelligence Analyst for Combined Joint Task Force- Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), Cooper was recruited for service in Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). Cooper returned to the United States, and joined JSOC in 2016. It was during a 2018 JSOC rotation in the Middle East when Cooper was formally nominated for senior diplomatic appointment.
George W. Bush Administration
In 2001, Cooper joined the ranks of Bush appointees as an assistant director of the National Park Service, where he advocated for greater access to public lands and was part of Interior Secretary Gale Norton's efforts to challenge Clinton Administration executive orders restricting use and access of public lands. During the first term of the Bush Administration, Cooper was soon called to active military duty by the United States Department of Defense. During the second term, Cooper served several diplomatic postings including United States Embassy in Baghdad, where as an advisor to Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, often travelled with members of Congress in the Middle East region. His final Department of State posting was at the United States Mission to the United Nations where he served as Counselor for United Nations Management & Reform and as an Alternate Representative to the United Nations Security Council. At the UN, Cooper worked with like-minded member states on mandate review, advocated for accountability of peace keepers, and pressed for performance measures for peace keeping operations.
Donald Trump Administration
In 2018, President Trump nominated Cooper to be the Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs. Upon his return to service at the United States Department of State, Cooper candidly addressed great power competition and was an advocate in promoting America as the global "partner of choice" and as the "preferred partner" for security cooperation and defense trade. During his tenure, he implemented reforms to streamline arms export licensing and improve government support to American defense industry.
At Cooper's 2019 ceremonial swearing-in on the 230th anniversary celebration of the founding of the State Department, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo noted, “…with his two decades of experience in both military and diplomatic roles, I'm confident that Clarke is the right person for the job.”
Among enabling bilateral security partnerships, and advocacy for burden sharing to counter shared threats, Cooper was also known for his longtime advocacy of performance measures across UN peacekeeping missions, women in active peacekeeping roles, and accountability measures for troop and police contributing countries.
In 2021, Cooper and several colleagues were awarded the Superior Honor Award for the Political-Military Bureau's interagency coordination and implementation of the security cooperation elements of the Abraham Accords in support of the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Bahrain, and the Kingdom of Morocco normalizing relations with the State of Israel.
Other Notable Civic Work
In 2010, Cooper was elected executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans. At the time, former Governor Jeb Bush noted, "During my administration, Clarke was part of an excellent team that built improved relations with the federal government that benefited the citizens of Florida. He proved himself to be hardworking and results driven and a genuine public servant."
Cooper advocated the need for open service before the Congress securing Republican votes while concurrently leveraging the U.S. Supreme Court case of Log Cabin Republicans v. United States. In 2011, some social conservatives took issue when Cooper was invited to join the Republican National Committee's finance committee.
From March 2012 through December 2012, Cooper was a guest op-ed columnist for The Washington Times, writing a column called "Politics and Pride," focusing on political issues from a conservative LGBT perspective.
In 2013, Cooper was the featured conservative in Timothy Greenfield-Sanders' HBO Documentary "The Out List," and was among notable Republicans who were signatory to an amicus curiae brief submitted to the United States Supreme Court in support of same-sex marriage during the Hollingsworth v. Perry case.
Awards and decorations
- Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal with Three Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal with Three Oak Leaf Clusters, National Defense Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal with Two Stars, Global War On Terrorism Expeditionary Medal with Two Stars, Global War On Terrorism Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Mobilization Medal with Hour Glass and M Device, Combat Action Badge, Parachutist Badge
- Superior Honor Award, Officer of the Venerable Order of St. John, HM Queen Elizabeth II, Eagle Scout, Boy Scouts of America
Cooper belongs to the Church of the Ascension and Saint Agnes in Washington, D.C. During his time in Iraq, Cooper was known to work with The Reverend Canon Andrew White, the Vicar of St. George's Parish in Baghdad and the Archbishop of Canterbury's Representative in Iraq. During his childhood, Cooper's mother was active in the charismatic renewal movement within the Episcopal Church of the United States.
- "CREC" (PDF). www.gpo.gov. 2000.
- Grist, Charles M. (24 March 2007). "American Ranger: The Gold Convoy".
- C-SPAN, Congressional Delegation in Iraq http://www.c-spanvideo.org/clarkcooper
- https://www.un.org/Docs/sc/appendices08.pdf[dead link]
- https://www.un.org/Docs/sc/appendices09.pdf[dead link]
- United Nations, Statement before Economic & Social Council "Statement by R. Clarke Cooper, U.S. Representative, on Coordination, Programme and Other Questions, at the ECOSOC General Segment, July 21, 2008". Archived from the original on 2010-10-08. Retrieved 2010-09-22.
- United Nations, Statement at closing of the 62nd General Assembly "Statement by R. Clarke Cooper, Counselor and U.S. Representative, at the close of the 62nd General Assembly on the Millennium Summit Resolution". Archived from the original on 2010-10-08. Retrieved 2010-09-22.
- "Trump names former Log Cabin chief to senior State Dept. post". 28 June 2018.
- "President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Personnel to Key Administration Posts". whitehouse.gov – via National Archives.
- "R. Clarke Cooper | C-SPAN.org".
- "America as the Partner of Choice: A Conversation with Assistant Secretary Clarke Cooper | Meridian International Center".
- "FDD | America as Preferred Partner: Arms Sales and Great Power Competition in the Indo-Pacific". 2 October 2020.
- @SecPompeo (29 July 2019). "Thrilled to swear in Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs R. Clarke Cooper. With his tw…" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- "We apologize for the inconvenience".
- "We apologize for the inconvenience".
- "We apologize for the inconvenience".
- "Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs R. Clarke Cooper Travels to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Israel".
- https://www.facebook.com/statedept/videos/307735933638176/[user-generated source]
- @Israel_MOD (14 January 2021). "The Joint Political-Military Group discussion co-chaired by POL-MIL Dir. Zohar Palti, @AsstSecPM Cooper & Asst. Sec…" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- @AsstSecPM (12 January 2021). "Proud to continue our steadfast #SecurityCooperation with #Israel. @StateDeptPM @Israel_MOD @IsraelMFA @IsraelinUSA" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- @SecPompeo (7 January 2021). "Proud that our Political-Military Affairs bureau has secured not one, not two, but SEVEN security cooperation / bur…" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- @USAinUAE (16 November 2020). "We are thrilled to welcome @AsstSecPM R. Clarke Cooper to Abu Dhabi, where he will meet with key partners on expand…" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- "News Details".
- "Joint Statement of the 47th U.S.-Israel Joint Political-Military Group".
- "Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs R. Clarke Cooper Briefing on FY 2020 Arms Sales Figures and Regional Security in the Middle East".
- R. Clarke Cooper Named New LCR Executive Director: "Log Cabin Republicans Announces R. Clarke Cooper as New National Executive Director - - Log Cabin Republicans -". Archived from the original on 2012-08-04. Retrieved 2012-05-01.
- Advocate, Interview with New Executive Director Cooper "King of the Cabin | Politicians | the Advocate". Archived from the original on 2010-10-25. Retrieved 2010-09-22.
- CNN, Gays, lesbians and the GOP https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3T3wQtiXFs
- Army Times, Gay GOP group fights Don't Ask, Don't Tell http://www.armytimes.com/news/2010/10/ap-gop-dadt-rights-clarke-cooper-102210/
- Fox News, Court Orders Immediate Halt to DADT http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/07/06/court-orders-immediate-halt-to-gay-military-ban/
- "Manning's defense dishonors gay GIs". Stars and Stripes.
- Washington Times, Politics & Pride Column http://communities.washingtontimes.com/staff/r-clarke-cooper/
- Avlon, John (28 February 2013). "The Pro-Freedom Republicans Are Coming: 131 Sign Gay Marriage Brief". The Daily Beast – via www.thedailybeast.com.
- "Order of St John | The Gazette". Archived from the original on 2019-11-16.
- "R. Clarke Cooper". U.S. Department of State. Archived from the original on 2019-05-07. Retrieved 2019-05-08.
- "Our Supporters" (PDF). Meridian International Center. 2017-08-31. Retrieved 2019-05-08.