< Back

Ellen Laipson

Ellen Laipson is the director of the International Security program at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. She joined GMU from the Stimson Center, where she was president and CEO (2002-2015) and continues as president emeritus and distinguished fellow. Her tenure at Stimson followed a quarter century of government service. She serves on a number of academic and other non-governmental boards related to international security and diplomacy, and is a weekly columnist for worldpoliticsreview.com. Her last post in government was vice chair of the National Intelligence Council (1997-2002). She also worked on the State Department’s policy planning staff, the National Security Council staff and the Congressional Research Service. A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, she currently serves on the advisory councils of the International Institute of Strategic Studies, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy and the Notre Dame International Security Center, and on the board of the Diplomacy Center Foundation. From 2003 to 2015, she was a member of the board of the Asia Foundation. She was a member of the CIA External Advisory Panel from 2006-2009, President Obama’s Intelligence Advisory Board from 2009-2013, and on the Secretary of State’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board 2011-2014. Laipson has an MA from the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University and an AB from Cornell University.

Articles By Ellen Laipson

How to Unlock the Iran Nuclear Stalemate By Ellen Laipson - Dec 25, 2021

There’s no sign of a breakthrough in restoring the 2015 Iran nuclear deal repudiated by President Donald Trump in 2018. The agreement, which restricted many of Iran’s nuclear enrichment activities, has been slowly undermined by the US withdrawal and Iran’s creeping violations of its provisions. Seven rounds of talks in Vienna under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency have not … Continue reading “How to Unlock the Iran Nuclear Stalemate”

Recalibrated US Policy Offers Little Hope to Hungry Afghans By Ellen Laipson - Dec 17, 2021

Now that the horrific scenes of desperate people trying to flee Kabul have faded from the news cycle, it’s time to consider whether the US has found a new clarity of purpose in dealing with the aftermath of the withdrawal from Afghanistan. The escalating humanitarian crisis in the country reflects failures of policy on many levels, certainly not all … Continue reading “Recalibrated US Policy Offers Little Hope to Hungry Afghans”

Fall of Kabul: Why Afghanistan’s Security Forces Collapsed So Quickly to the Taliban By Ellen Laipson - Aug 17, 2021

Before the dust settles on the collapse of the government in Kabul, the blame game has begun. There are many and varied reasons for this calamitous end to the US project in Afghanistan, from the April decision of the current US president, to strategic blunders of several of Biden’s predecessors. And while some are offended … Continue reading “Fall of Kabul: Why Afghanistan’s Security Forces Collapsed So Quickly to the Taliban”

Why Tunisia Is in Crisis By Ellen Laipson - Aug 5, 2021

Tunisia is in a deep political crisis. If president Kais Saied lives up to his promise of restoring the fledgling democracy’s political system within one month, it will be a miracle. In such turbulent situations, positions can harden and the conditions that would permit lifting the suspension of normal political functions are rarely met. Add … Continue reading “Why Tunisia Is in Crisis”

North Africa Needs More American Attention, But Will It Get It? By Ellen Laipson - Jul 6, 2021

For decades, North Africa has been a second tier of US policy interests in the Middle East, neither vital for the Israel-Palestine peace process, nor big players in the security challenges of the Gulf. From Morocco to Libya, the countries of North Africa (Egypt excepted) usually are an afterthought in American strategy. But with Russia … Continue reading “North Africa Needs More American Attention, But Will It Get It?”