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

To Cash In On Kushner Influence Saudis Must Sell Their Agenda To America

by Markos Kounalakisvia Miami Herald
Thursday, March 22, 2018

Foreign royalty comes to America to experience the grandeur of the nation, its natural wonders, the success of its industry, the vast complexity of its society, and, ultimately, to do a little shopping.

Analysis and Commentary

Punish Russia For Skripal Murder, Or Prepare To Face Bolder Putin Attacks

by Markos Kounalakisvia Sacramento Bee
Thursday, March 15, 2018

Global spy games just got a little more dangerous with the byzantine poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in the medieval-era UK city of Salisbury.

Analysis and Commentary

‘Great Firewall Of China’ Neuters Internet Dissent So Xi Can Rule For Life

by Markos Kounalakisvia Star-Telegram
Thursday, March 8, 2018

Dictators hate a challenge to their rule. That’s why China uses its vast policing and advanced technological resources both to arrest individuals and to disappear from public view any protest words, phrases, images or symbols that might be seen as threatening the state. The kinds of things that, if unchecked, can potentially overthrow a regime. One of the high-priority targets of China’s security systems today? Winnie the Pooh.

Analysis and Commentary

Trump’s Awful Phone Diplomacy Boosts Russian Meddling In Mexico Vote

by Markos Kounalakisvia Miami Herald
Thursday, March 1, 2018

Phone calls are not President Trump’s best tool for international charm offensives. He hung up on Australia’s prime minister a year ago, nearly changed U.S. policy toward Taiwan and China in another conversation when he was president-elect, and, this week, further offended Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto.

Analysis and Commentary

Trump’s Ideal America: More Norwegians, Less Norway

by Markos Kounalakisvia McClatchy DC
Thursday, February 22, 2018

Donald Trump admires “winners” and his favored immigrant group, the Norwegians, are winning so much at the Winter Olympics that they are probably getting tired of hauling around medals. If the president were to take a closer look at the Scandinavian nation, however, there is little else beyond athletic success he would personally find appealing.

Analysis and Commentary

Pentagon Invests In High Tech, Then It’s Stolen. What’s The Point?

by Markos Kounalakisvia Sacramento Bee
Thursday, February 15, 2018

Technology born and bred in the USA has been copied and deployed by Iran against Israel. Crossing into Israeli airspace from Syria last weekend, a trespassing unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV, aggressively swept across Israel’s border, only to be tracked and blown out of the air by one of the Israeli Defense Force’s American-made Apache helicopters.

Analysis and Commentary

Tillerson Nod To Venezuela Coup Smart, Touting Monroe Doctrine Not So Much

by Markos Kounalakisvia McClatchy DC
Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Sometimes it takes an oilman to undermine an oilman. Reminiscent of J.R.’s tactics to edge out brother Bobby from the family Ewing Oil company in the fictional 80s “Dallas” TV show, America’s chief diplomat and Exxon oilman extraordinaire is upping the pressure on Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro. One possibility? A little military coup. 

Analysis and Commentary

Cowering For Profits: US Firms In China Sell Out America By Bending To Beijing

by Markos Kounalakisvia Sacramento Bee
Thursday, February 1, 2018

American technology companies operating in China had a secret weakness, one that is not so concealed anymore. Not after an apparently bad miscalculation in which Intel gave the Chinese government an incredible security advantage that the tech giant withheld from the U.S. government. Oops.

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Statues of Limitation

by Markos Kounalakisvia Hoover Digest
Friday, January 26, 2018

How do the countries of the former Iron Curtain deal with their inconvenient monuments? Sometimes by painting a tank pink, or swapping a Stalin for a Steve Jobs. 

Analysis and Commentary

Hostile Turkey Warns U.S.-Backed Kurds, Aims To Sideline Washington

by Markos Kounalakisvia News and Observer (NC)
Thursday, January 18, 2018

Simmering for years, the full outbreak of hostilities between American-backed forces and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Turkey is now finally at a boil. Turkey, an unreliable NATO ally at best, has again made clear that the U.S. is not welcome in the neighborhood.