Karl W. Eikenberry

Karl Eikenberry
Trustee

Karl Eikenberry is a former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan and Lieutenant General, U.S. Army (retired).  He is a senior advisor to the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Defense on its defense and military transformation plan.  He is also a faculty member of Schwarzman College, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China.

From 2011-2019 he was the Director of the U.S.-Asia Security Initiative at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, Stanford University.  He was also an affiliate with the Stanford University Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies' Center for International Security and Cooperation; Center for Democracy, Development, and Rule of Law; and The Europe Center.

Prior to his arrival at Stanford, he served as the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan from 2009 until 2011.  Before appointment as Chief of Mission in Kabul, Ambassador Eikenberry had a thirty-five year career in the United States Army, retiring with the rank of lieutenant general.  His military operational posts included as commander and staff officer with mechanized, light, airborne, and ranger infantry units in the continental U.S., Hawaii, Korea, Italy, and as the Commander of the American-led Coalition forces in Afghanistan.  He held various policy and political-military positions, including Deputy Chairman of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Military Committee in Brussels, Belgium; Director for Strategic Planning and Policy for U.S. Pacific Command at Camp Smith, Hawaii; U.S. Security Coordinator and Chief of the Office of Military Cooperation in Kabul, Afghanistan; Assistant Army and later Defense Attaché at the United States Embassy in Beijing, China; Senior Country Director for China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Mongolia in the Office of the Secretary of Defense; and Deputy Director for Strategy, Plans, and Policy on the Army Staff.

He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, has earned master’s degrees from Harvard University in East Asian Studies and Stanford University in Political Science, and was a National Security Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.  Ambassador Eikenberry earned an Interpreter’s Certificate in Mandarin Chinese from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office while studying at the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence Chinese Language School in Hong Kong and has an Advanced Degree in Chinese History from Nanjing University in the People’s Republic of China.

His military awards include the Defense Distinguished and Superior Service Medals, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Ranger Tab, Combat and Expert Infantryman Badges, and master parachutist wings.  He has received the Department of State Distinguished, Superior, and Meritorious Honor Awards, Director of Central Intelligence Award, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joint Distinguished Civilian Service Award.  He is also the recipient of the George F. Kennan Award for Distinguished Public Service and Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Centennial Medal.  Ambassador Eikenberry has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters Degree from North Carolina State University, an Honorary Doctorate of Laws Degree from Ball State University, and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters Degree from the University of San Francisco.

His foreign and international decorations include the Canadian Meritorious Service Cross, French Legion of Honor, Afghanistan’s Ghazi Amir Amanullah Khan and Akbar Khan Medals, and the NATO Meritorious Service Medal.

Ambassador Eikenberry is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, co-directs the Academy’s project on civil wars, violence, and international responses, and serves on the Academy’s Committee on International Security Studies.  He is member of the Task Force on Prevention and Fragility mandated by the United States Congress, and of the Task Force on U.S. Policy Toward China sponsored by the Asia Society and University of California San Diego 21st Century China Program.

He belongs to the boards of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue in Geneva, The Asia Foundation, American Councils for International Education, Asia Society of Northern California, National Bureau of Asian Research, and National Committee on American Foreign Policy; is a Non-Resident Fellow at the Liechtenstein Institute for Self-Determination, Princeton University; serves on the United States Institute of Peace’s Flag Officer Advisory Group; and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and American Academy of Diplomacy.  He was previously the President of the Foreign Area Officers Association and a board member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

His articles and essays on U.S. and international security issues have appeared in Foreign AffairsThe Washington QuarterlyThe American InterestAmerican Foreign Policy InterestsLawfare, The New York TimesThe Washington PostLawfare, Foreign PolicySurvivalDædalus, The Financial Times, Parameters, and Military Review.

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