Kiron K. Skinner

W. Glenn Campbell Research Fellow

Kiron K. Skinner is the W. Glenn Campbell Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution.  She is a member of three Hoover Institution projects:  the Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy; the working group on the Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict; and the Arctic Security Initiative. At Carnegie Mellon University, she is the founding director of the Center for International Relations and Politics; founding director of the Institute for Strategic Analysis; university adviser on national security policy; associate professor of political science in the Department of Social and Decision Sciences; associate professor by courtesy in the Institute for Software Research, a department of the School of Computer Science; and a distinguished fellow in Cylab, a major cyber-security research center within the College of Engineering. Her areas of expertise are international relations, international security, US foreign policy, and political strategy.

Skinner’s coauthored books, Reagan, in His Own Hand and Reagan, a Life in Letters, were New York Times best sellers. Reagan, in His Own Hand won Hoover Institution’s Uncommon Book Award; Reagan, a Life in Letters was named one of the best books of 2003 by the Los Angeles Times. The Strategy of Campaigning: Lessons from Ronald Reagan and Boris Yeltsin, coauthored with Serhiy Kudelia, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, and Condoleezza Rice, was excerpted on the opinion page of the New York Times.  Skinner is a contributing writer to

Skinner’s government service includes membership in the US Defense Department’s Defense Policy Board as an adviser on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (2001–7); the Chief of Naval Operations’ Executive Panel (2004–present); the National Academies Committee on Behavioral and Social Science Research to Improve Intelligence Analysis for National Security (2009–11); and the National Security Education Board (2004–11). In 2010, Skinner was appointed to the advisory board of the George W. Bush Oral History Project. She was a foreign policy surrogate for the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign in 2004, a senior foreign policy adviser to Speaker Newt Gingrich during his presidential campaign in 2011–12, and a foreign policy surrogate during the final stretch of Governor Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. In 2012, Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett appointed Skinner to his Advisory Commission on African American Affairs.

Skinner is a lifetime director on the board of the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City. 

Skinner holds MA and PhD degrees in political science from Harvard University and undergraduate degrees from Spelman College and Sacramento City College. She received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Molloy College, Long Island.

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Carnegie Mellon’s Dietrich College To Create New Institute For Politics And Strategy

by Kiron K. Skinnervia Carnegie Mellon News
Thursday, April 2, 2015

Carnegie Mellon University’s Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences will open a new Institute for Politics and Strategy (IPS), effective July 1.

Featured Commentary

U.S. Universities Going Global Is Vital To Society

by Mark S. Kamlet, Kiron K. Skinnervia New York Times
Monday, January 19, 2015

Setting up international campuses and programs require great care as cultures, political systems and levels of economic development, of course, differ. Finding ways to bridge these differences is not only one of the challenges but one of the important opportunities. Establishing basic research and teaching initiatives abroad, when feasible, provides unique ways to encourage mutual respect, understanding and growth.

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Red, White And Peaceful: Advancing U.S. Security Through Peaceful Means

by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, Kiron K. Skinnervia National Interest
Monday, December 15, 2014

National security and environmental well-being can go hand in hand with solving major disputes without the use of force. America can help make this happen.

Featured Commentary

A Secretary Of Defense With A Doctrine Could Help Obama

by Kiron K. Skinnervia New York Times
Sunday, November 30, 2014

Many Defense Department observers are saying that the next Pentagon leader should be either an intense political infighter or someone who is able to be conciliatory with the president and his White House team.

US flag on military helmet
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Strategika: “Planning for Defeat” with Kiron Skinner

by Kiron K. Skinnervia Strategika
Friday, August 15, 2014

The dangerous distance between means and ends in Barack Obama’s foreign policy.

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Airstrikes, Sure; but What About a Strategy in Iraq?

by Kiron K. Skinnervia Room for Debate (New York Times)
Friday, August 8, 2014

It has been a tragically spectacular year for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has taken control of numerous towns in Iraq and Syria, seized energy assets, targeted religious minorities, unleashed murderous rampages against those who do not subscribe to its tenets, and declared a caliphate.

Poster Collection, US 1153, Hoover Institution Archives.
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The U.S. Cannot Wish Away Its Present Security Concerns

by Kiron K. Skinnervia Strategika
Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Grand strategy requires states to have a long-term plan. It also requires that means and ends be clearly articulated and calibrated to each other. The Obama administration’s long-term plan appears to shift U.S. economic and military assets away from the Middle East and toward Asia. The Middle East, however, shows no signs of relinquishing its role as the world’s central battleground. Furthermore, means and ends are mixed together as priorities under the Obama doctrine.

Podcast: Strategika: “Planning for Defeat” with Kiron Skinner
US flag on military helmet
Featured Commentary

Honor The Sacrifice of Our Troops

by Kiron K. Skinnervia Room for Debate (New York Times)
Monday, June 16, 2014

According to the Obama Doctrine, making a lighter footprint around the world and ending the wars inherited from President George W. Bush will improve U.S. global standing and encourage other states to take greater responsibility for their own peace, security, political liberalization and prosperity.

Ronald Reagan
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The Most Misunderstood And Least Appreciated Aspect Of Ronald Reagan's Legacy

by Kiron K. Skinnervia Forbes
Sunday, June 8, 2014

The tenth anniversary of President Reagan’s death, observed on June 5, is a fitting time to review the most misunderstood and underappreciated aspect of his legacy.

Vladimir Putin
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As Putin's Confidence Grows, Cold War Concerns Gain Credibility

by Kiron K. Skinnervia Forbes
Monday, May 26, 2014

Concerns about reigniting a Cold War gain credibility as President Putin continues his militarism in Ukraine and draws his country into the on-going crisis in Egypt.  Thus, it is time to look back at the Reagan administration’s strategy that helped end the Cold War by breaking with long-held policies enshrined in US-Soviet détente of the 1970s.