Markos Kounalakis

Visiting Fellow

Markos Kounalakis, Ph.D. is a Visiting Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and a Senior Fellow at the Center on Media, Data, and Society at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary.

He is an award-winning, nationally-syndicated foreign affairs columnist, author, and scholar. Wars and revolutions are where he cut his teeth as a foreign correspondent.

His columns appear weekly in the McClatchy chain of 30 newspapers from Sacramento, California to Miami, Florida. His work is in global syndication and read worldwide from South Korea to the Middle Eastern Gulf states. In 2018, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists recognized “Kounalakis’s world affairs columns not only offer strong prose and strong opinions, they offer an education.”

Newsweek and NBC-Mutual News posted him as a foreign correspondent in news bureaus in Italy, Austria, Czechoslovakia and the USSR. Both in superpower capitals and regional outposts, Kounalakis covered dramatic political and military developments at the end of the 20th century – from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the street protests in Budapest, the Velvet Revolution in Prague, revolutionary movements in Bulgaria, and the violent overthrow of the Romanian regime. He was present at the Warsaw Pact meeting where the organization was dissolved. He covered the early phases of Yugoslavia’s civil war and went to Afghanistan with the Soviets to cover the last stages of their military occupation and rise of the Mujahedin.

Dr. Kounalakis later became the president and publisher of the Washington Monthly magazine and host of the POTUS ’08 satellite-distributed program “Washington Monthly on the Radio.” Earlier in his journalism career he co-produced and co-hosted the weekly syndicated radio program, “Spotlight on World Affairs.” He is currently a co-host of the public broadcasting “World Affairs” program. He frequently appears on television as a foreign affairs analyst.

Books he has authored are wide-ranging – from the Silicon Valley’s global technological revolution to America’s geopolitical struggles with China and Russia. His latest book, “Spin Wars & Spy Games: Global Media and Intelligence Gathering”, was published by the Hoover Institution Press in 2018.

Dr. Kounalakis earned his Political Science Ph.D. summa cum laude in the International Relations subfield from Central European University, MSc at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, and his Political Science BSc at the University of California, Berkeley. As an International Journalism Fellow at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School, he studied and researched in Guatemala and Cuba and at El Colegio de México in Mexico City. He was a Robert Bosch Foundation Fellow in Europe, studying at both the Bundesakademie für öffentliche Verwaltung in Bonn, Germany, and the École Nationale d'Administration in Paris.  

In 2017, President Barack Obama appointed Dr. Kounalakis to the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Dr. Kounalakis is married to Eleni Kounalakis, the former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary and current Lt. Governor of the State of California, making him California’s “Second Partner.” The family has two teenaged boys anagrammatically named Neo and Eon.

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Recent Commentary

Analysis and Commentary

The Political Spouse: It’s Not A Job Just For Women Anymore

by Markos Kounalakisvia Miami Herald
Thursday, December 12, 2019

Women on the world stage are increasingly playing lead roles. Whether New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern, the newest all-female Finnish government’s cabinet led by 35-year old Prime Minister Sanna Marin or the record number of American women who ran and won in the 2018 midterm elections, women are moving on up. Get used to it.

Analysis and Commentary

Presidential Candidates Are Rarely Judged On Their Knowledge Of Foreign Policy

by Markos Kounalakisvia Miami Herald
Thursday, December 5, 2019

Presidential candidates are rarely judged on their knowledge of foreign policy. They’re often governors or from states where engagement in world affairs is limited to the trade promotion of state products or produce. They’re both salespeople and promoters of their states’ workers, goods and environment, pitching their local and regional corporate interests in global markets.

Is President Trump Imperious? Definitely. Is He Infallible? Absolutely Not!

by Markos Kounalakis
Thursday, November 21, 2019

Distinguishing a monarchy from a republic is a civics lesson once taught in school. Our education system dumped civic literacy a while back, so it might be time for a national refresher course. We all need it, especially he of self-proclaimed “great and unmatched wisdom” — Trump the Infallible.

Analysis and Commentary

The Liberal Reagan You Never Hear About

by Markos Kounalakisvia Washington Monthly
Monday, November 11, 2019
In the early 2000s, as advanced Alzheimer’s disease continued to take its toll on Ronald Reagan’s cognitive faculties, a dedicated group of conservative ideologues and anti-tax proselytizers were working overtime to define a cohesive narrative of his presidency and establish a permanent anti-tax Reagan legacy in the collective memory.

Power-hungry Rudy Giuliani Tripped Over His Own Ego And Fell Hard | Opinion

by Markos Kounalakis
Thursday, November 7, 2019
Rudy Giuliani was a shoo-in for attorney general or to head up the Department of Homeland Security in a nascent Trump administration. Not only was Giuliani “America’s Mayor” following his command of the situation on 9/11, he was a former federal prosecutor, presidential candidate and an early validator — if late endorser — of Donald J. Trump.
Analysis and Commentary

When It Comes To Bearing Brunt Of War’s Brutality, It’s Women And Children First

by Markos Kounalakisvia Miami Herald
Thursday, October 31, 2019

Sex and gender decide our fate more than some like to admit. Men and money make the world go ‘round, after all, and grown men are mostly responsible for society’s most critical decisions surrounding war and peace. Children don’t vote, and women often don’t have a voice.

Analysis and Commentary

Have We Gone Too Far In Making Animals The Beasts Of Our Burdens?

by Markos Kounalakisvia Miami Herald
Thursday, October 24, 2019

The majestic eagle is the latest animal to arrive to save our bacon. Since as recently as 2017, the French military has been experimenting with the use of America’s national bird to defend the Élysée Palace against hostile drones. Soaring and swooping, these powerful birds are trained to take down the buzzing tech-copters that could pick off a president.


Markos Kounalakis: US-China Relations: Reflections On A Gathering Storm

by Markos Kounalakisvia WorldAffairs
Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Marko Konalakis interviews David Lampton concerning how Beijing and Washington could diffuse the disruptive tensions of this growing rivalry.


Markos Kounalakis: British Parliament Stalls Brexit Plan

interview with Markos Kounalakisvia CBS News
Saturday, October 19, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Markos Kounalakis discusses U.K. lawmakers voting to withhold approval of a full British withdrawal from the European Union, as well as whether this is a big setback for Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Putin, Assad, Erdoğan And Khamenei — The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse 2.0 | Opinion

by Markos Kounalakis
Thursday, October 17, 2019

Texas tornadoes are potentially caused by the “flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil” according to the Butterfly Effect theory. Determining the ultimate cause and effects in weather is a tough call, however, given how many random physical factors ultimately come into play. But it’s fascinating to think that a distant and peacefully fluttering butterfly has so much potential power.