Markos Kounalakis

Visiting Fellow

Markos Kounalakis, Ph.D. is a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and a senior fellow at the Center for Media, Data and Society at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary. He is a presidentially appointed member of the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

He is president and publisher emeritus of the Washington Monthly and writes a foreign affairs column for the The Sacramento Bee and McClatchy-Tribune News.  He is currently writing a book on the geopolitics of global news networks.

A political scientist in the international relations subfield, Dr. Kounalakis has developed an interdisciplinary specialization in global media effects on foreign policy.  His research bridges theories of communications, soft power, neoclassical realism and rising powers. He earned his BA with honors from the University of California, Berkeley (1978, Political Science), MSc at Columbia University (1988, Journalism), and his Ph.D., Summa Cum Laude, at Central European University (2016, Political Science/International Relations).

Dr. Kounalakis was a Robert Bosch Foundation Fellow in Europe (1988-89), studying at both the Bundesakademie für öffentliche Verwaltung in Bonn, Germany, and the École Nationale d'Administration in Paris (1989). As an international journalism graduate fellow at the University of Southern California (1995-96), he spent time at El Colegio de Mexico in Mexico City (1996), Guatemala (1995), and Cuba (1996), and was awarded a Master’s level international journalism certificate.  A frequent Media Fellow at the Hoover Institution (2003-2009), he returned to work as a Visiting Fellow in 2013.

Professionally, Kounalakis is a veteran print and network broadcast journalist and author who covers wars and revolutions, both civil and technological. 

In the 1980s & 1990s, he reported the overthrow of communism for Newsweek in East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria and the outbreak of ethnic strife and war in Yugoslavia. He was based in Rome, Vienna and ran the magazine’s Prague bureau.

After Newsweek, he worked in the U.S.S.R. as the NBC Radio and Mutual News Moscow correspondent covering the fall of the Soviet Union as well as the war in Afghanistan. Kounalakis has written for The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, the International Herald-Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Dallas Morning NewsThe Miami Herald, and many other regional and international newspapers and magazines. 

He has written three books, Defying Gravity: The Making of Newton (Beyond Words Publishing, 1993), Beyond Spin: The Power of Strategic Corporate Journalism (coauthor, Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1999), and Hope is a Tattered Flag: Voices of Reason and Change for the Post-Bush Era (PoliPointPress, 2008).  Reflections 1989-1992 (Ernst Galeria Press, 2012)

Dr. Kounalakis serves on the Board of Councilors at the University of Southern California’s (USC) Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism; and the Board of Advisors at USC’s Center on Public Diplomacy (CPD).  He is a former member of the Board of Advisors at Georgetown College; a former member of the Wilson Council at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (WWICS); a former member of the Board of Directors at the Center for National Policy (CNP); and former vice chairman of the Board of Advisers for the Southeast Europe Project at WWICS.

He served as chairman of Internews Network (2002-4); vice chairman of the California State World Trade Commission (2001-3); member of the Board of Trustees of the Western Policy Center (2001-5); member of the Board of Trustees and Executive Committee of the World Affairs Council of Northern California (2006-8); and member of the National Governing Board of Common Cause (2006-8). In June 2003, he chaired a multinational reconstruction conference in Athens, Greece, at which Iraq’s media laws were drafted.

Dr. Kounalakis is married to Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis, the lovely and talented mother of his two sons, Neo and Eon, and the former US ambassador to the Republic of Hungary. 

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Recent Commentary

Analysis and Commentary

Harvey And Irma Were Hard. But Most Of The World’s Disasters Are Ignored.

by Markos Kounalakisvia The Island Packet
Thursday, September 14, 2017

What a disastrous few weeks. Historic hurricanes, massive earthquakes, and large-scale wildfires have all simultaneously struck the Americas, grabbing headlines and inspiring telethons. The reporting has been extensive and the outpouring of generous homegrown support seems endless.

Analysis and Commentary

Asia Pivot 2.0

by Markos Kounalakisvia Miami Herald
Thursday, September 7, 2017

Characterizing himself as “America’s first Pacific president,” Barack Obama tried to shift America’s focus, strategic commitments and resources to Southeast Asia. Hillary Clinton was all for it, too, authoring a 2011 vision for an Asia-focused foreign policy titled “America’s Pacific Century.”

Analysis and Commentary

Can An America First Nation Get The World’s Help After Harvey?

by Markos Kounalakisvia McClatchy Newspapers
Thursday, August 31, 2017

Natural disasters know no political boundaries. And that’s why international humanitarian relief flows so quickly, and in such great and humbling quantities, when hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis strike. But today, with Houston suffering as Mother Nature’s latest victim, will the world’s giving nations step-up and step-in to help American relief efforts? Or are things in an America First world different?

Analysis and Commentary

Trump Preps Afghan War For Sale To India

by Markos Kounalakisvia Herald Sun (NC)
Thursday, August 24, 2017

Fighting his instincts, reneging on campaign promises, and disregarding his anti-globalist advisers, President Trump told America he changed his mind about Afghanistan. It is the kind of reversal he hates because it dilutes his brash brand.

Analysis and Commentary

Confederate Monuments Deserve Soviet Treatment

by Markos Kounalakisvia Miami Herald
Thursday, August 17, 2017

Budapest’s Freedom Square hosts a prominent and controversial Soviet war memorial. Hungarians regularly argue for its removal, but it remains unmoved and guarded. It is an exception.

Analysis and Commentary

Trump Won’t Blink In North Korea Standoff. But China Might.

by Markos Kounalakisvia Miami Herald
Wednesday, August 9, 2017

In the 1960s, John F. Kennedy was facing the threat of nuclear weapons within striking distance of the United States. The Soviet forward-deployment forced America to stop Russia’s advance, just 90 miles from the homeland. Brinksmanship brought Kennedy “eyeball to eyeball” with Nikita Khrushchev. It was the Soviet president who blinked.

Analysis and Commentary

America Forgot Afghanistan. Donald Trump’s Chief Of Staff Has Not.

by Markos Kounalakisvia Charlotte Observer
Thursday, August 3, 2017

Americans may have lost sight of the Afghan war, but Donald Trump’s new chief of staff, General John F. Kelly, has not. He sacrificed his son to that war. He knows that what happens in Afghanistan does not stay in Afghanistan. Now, if he can focus West Wing minds, he may bring Afghanistan back to the public consciousness, where it belongs.

Analysis and Commentary

This Is Steve Bannon’s Nightmare

by Markos Kounalakisvia McClatchy Newspapers
Thursday, July 27, 2017

Docked alongside Greek fish taverns and cafes, multi-flagged naval vessels unload their human cargo, and their crews’ depleted spirits, onto this postcard-perfect island. Muslim migrants and refugees flow onto Greece’s shores, fleeing troubles at home and looking for a better, European future.

Analysis and Commentary

Trump’s Friend Putin Urges Americans To Question More

by Markos Kounalakisvia McClatchy Newspapers
Thursday, July 20, 2017

Marketing to Americans, the Kremlin-sponsored global television network – Russia Today – challenges viewers to "Question More." That award-winning slogan is at the top of its website and appears on billboard ads in major markets, asserting that there is always more to uncover beneath the surface of every story.

Analysis and Commentary

Don’t Cheer China’s Climate Progress Until It’s For Real

by Markos Kounalakisvia Sacramento Bee
Thursday, June 1, 2017

America’s abandonment of global leadership during the Trump administration does not mean that Americans are ready to give up the fight for a safe and peaceful future. In fact, President Trump’s retreat from challenges to the global commons brings more attention to Gov. Jerry Brown’s efforts to act on climate change.