Charles Kupchan: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

charles kupchan

Headshot Charles Kupchan

Charles Kupchan is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations whose specialties are the European Union, NATO, Europe and Eurasia, Security Alliances, and International Relations.

He worked for President Barack Obama and President Bill Clinton, both Democrats, and is a fervent critic of President Donald Trump’s foreign policies, such as on trade.

In 2015, Kupchan was present at an event in which “representatives of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations met with Obama Administration officials…delivering a letter to the President calling for the U.S. government to play a greater role in delivering aid to the millions in Ukraine in dire need of humanitarian assistance as the season’s freezing temperatures set in.” President Obama named him as part of “a Presidential Delegation to attend the Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the Babyn Yar Massacre on September 29, 2016 in Kyiv, Ukraine.”

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Kupchan Worked on European Affairs for Both the Obama & Clinton Administrations

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, Charles Kupchan is a senior fellow there who is also a professor of international affairs in the Walsh School of Foreign Service and Department of Government at Georgetown University.

From 2014 to 2017, the council’s bio for him says, Kupchan “served as special assistant to the president and senior director for European Affairs on the staff of the National Security Council (NSC) in the Obama administration.”

The bio adds: “He was also director for European Affairs on the NSC during the first Clinton administration. Before joining the Clinton NSC, he worked in the U.S. Department of State on the Policy Planning Staff.”

You can watch C-Span videos featuring Kupchan here.

2. Kupchan, an Author, Is a Former Professor of Politics From Princeton, University Who Has Written Articles Critical of President Donald Trump

Previously, Charles Kupchan was assistant professor of politics at Princeton University.

He is the author of the following books:

No One’s World: The West, the Rising Rest, and the Coming Global Turn (2012)
How Enemies Become Friends: The Sources of Stable Peace (2010)
The End of the American Era: U.S. Foreign Policy and the Geopolitics of the Twenty-first Century (2002)
Power in Transition: The Peaceful Change of International Order (2001)
Civic Engagement in the Atlantic Community (1999)
Atlantic Security: Contending Visions (1998)
Nationalism and Nationalities in the New Europe (1995)
The Vulnerability of Empire (1994)
The Persian Gulf and the West (1987)

You can read some of Kupchan’s articles here. Some of them are strongly critical of President Donald Trump. For example, in 2018, he wrote an article headlined, “Trump Is Poised to Do Irreparable Harm to World Trade. Here’s what other countries can do to stop him.”

“That we breathe a sigh of relief at NATO’s mere survival reveals just how low the bar has sunk during the Trump era,” the article, for Foreign, states.

In 2017, he wrote an article for the same publication headlined, “The Damage Limitation Presidency: Can Congress and the Adults Box in Trump?” In 2019, he wrote, “By rushing out of Syria now, the Trump administration is ceding the field to Russia, Turkey, and Iran, all but guaranteeing another regional conflagration in the near future.”

3. Kupchan Graduated From Harvard & Oxford Universities

According to his Council biography, Kupchan “received a BA from Harvard University and MPhil and DPhil degrees from Oxford University.”

He has “served as a visiting scholar at Harvard University’s Center for International Affairs, Columbia University’s Institute for War and Peace Studies, the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, the Centre d’Étude et de Recherches Internationales in Paris, and the Institute for International Policy Studies in Tokyo,” the bio states.

“During 2006–2007, he was the Henry A. Kissinger scholar at the Library of Congress and was a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. During 2013–2014, he was a senior fellow at the Transatlantic Academy.”

The following affiliations were also listed by the Council:

Academic Exchange, executive committee of academic board
American Council on Germany, board member
Foreign Policy, occasional writer
Georgetown University, professor of international affairs
La Stampa, occasional writer
Le Monde, occasional writer
Suddeutsche Zeitung, occasional writer

4. Kupchan Has Accused Conservatives of Leading an ‘Unprecedented’ Attack on Civil Servants

H.R. McMaster wife, Kathleen Trotter McMaster, HR McMaster married

H.R. McMaster is married to Kathleen Trotter McMaster. (Getty)

Kupchan told Foreign Policy the alt-right led an “unprecedented” attack on civil servants, labeling the “systematic hostility” against the “deep state” as “misplaced” and “dangerous.” The article was headlined “Trump’s Trolls Are Waging War on America’s Civil Servants” and “Alt-right bloggers are singling out government employees deemed hostile to the president’s agenda.”

Kupchan defended Eric Ciaramella, then an assistant to National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, whom he believed was being unfairly maligned at that time. Eric Ciaramella’s former boss, Kupchan told Foreign Policy that Ciaramella is one of the “worker bees of the federal government. They want to serve the nation, and they care deeply about the issues they’re working on.”

Kupchan said Ciaramella asked to work on Ukraine, but “he did such an impressive job, I asked him to help share the burden on the counter-ISIL portfolio.”

5. Kupchan Once Called President Obama ‘Cautious to a Fault’

The conservative Daily Caller website recalled a speech Kupchan gave in which he made comments critical of Barack Obama.

“Obama is deliberate and cautious to a fault and landed in an uncomfortable ‘no-man’s land,’” he said, according to the site.

“He picked the middle ground between what the foreign policy establishment was telling him and where he wanted to go. He possessed an uncanny ability to avoid spirals. At times when he needed to escalate, he failed to do so. Sometimes you need to develop a reputation for holding your ground. Libya is a perfect example of that. Syria is a perfect example of that. Afghanistan is a perfect example of that.”

He was critical of Trump in the same talk, saying, “Trump will do too little and too much. He will do little to protect the international institutions we’ve built since WWII and too much in engaging us with new problems.”

He was on the guest list for Obama’s final state dinner.