Colin Kahl

Colin Kahl

Colin Kahl
Associate Professor, Georgetown University

Associate Professor, Georgetown University; Senior Fellow and Director, Middle East Security Program, Center for a New American Security; Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East


Colin Kahl

Colin Kahl is an associate professor in the Security Studies Program in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, where he teaches courses on international relations, international security, the geopolitics of the Middle East, American foreign policy, and civil and ethnic conflict. He is also a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), a Washington, DC-based think tank.

Current research projects include assessments of the geopolitical implications of Iranian nuclearization and a separate study of the evolution of U.S. counterinsurgency practices during the Iraq war.

He has published articles on U.S. foreign and defense policy in the Middle East in Al-Monitor, Defense One, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, International Security, the Los Angeles Times, Middle East Policy, the National Interest, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Washington Quarterly and has published several reports for CNAS.

His previous research analyzed the causes and consequences of violent civil and ethnic conflict in developing countries, focusing particular attention on the demographic and natural resource dimensions of these conflicts. His book on the subject, States, Scarcity, and Civil Strife in the Developing World, was published by Princeton University Press in 2006, and related articles and chapters have appeared in International Security, the Journal of International Affairs, and various edited volumes.

He is a regular consultant for the Department of Defense and the intelligence community.

From February 2009 to December 2011, Prof. Kahl was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East at the Pentagon. In this capacity, he served as the senior policy advisor to the Secretary of Defense for Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel and the Palestinian territories, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen, and six other countries in the Levant and Persian Gulf. He was responsible for strategy development and policy oversight of the responsible drawdown of U.S. forces from Iraq, the Department’s efforts to counter Iran’s nuclear and destabilizing activities, security enhancements to support Israeli security and facilitate the Middle East Peace Process, efforts to build an integrated regional security architecture in the Persian Gulf, and U.S. responses to the Arab Spring. In June 2011, he was awarded the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service by Secretary Robert Gates.

From 2000-2004 and 2006-2007, he was an assistant professor of political science at the University of Minnesota. In 2005-2006, Prof. Kahl was a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, where he worked on issues related to counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, and responses to failed states. In 1997-1998, he was a National Security Fellow at the John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University.