Markos Kounalakis

Visiting Fellow
Biography: 

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

Be Outraged About Kids In Cages. But Save Some Ire For The Worst Refugee Offender: China

by Markos Kounalakisvia McClatchy DC
Thursday, June 21, 2018

Caging kids at the U.S. border is reprehensible. But as first ladies, governors, celebrities, and citizens of all political stripes line up and strike out against the inhumane practice of separating children from parents seeking refuge, everyone should save some ire and outrage for one of the world’s greatest offenders and dissemblers of refugee rights: China.

Analysis and Commentary

Guess Who's Coming To A White House Dinner? Dictators And Despots

by Markos Kounalakisvia McClatchy DC
Thursday, June 14, 2018

Kim Jong Un just got one of the most coveted invitations for any foreign leader — a White House visit. If the Singapore Summit delivers results and continues to serve President Trump politically, that door will stay open and the invitation will remain valid. That would make Kim the latest in a string of despots and dictators who over the years get to pose for an Oval Office grip and grin.

Analysis and Commentary

Angry About U.S. Primary Results? Be Thankful It's Not A Venezuelan-Style Sham Election

by Markos Kounalakisvia McClatchy DC
Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Election day in America reinforces our democratic values and reminds us that power resides in the hands of the people. Depending on your party preference and perspective, the meaning of this week’s regional U.S. elections vary.

Analysis and Commentary

Hawaii Volcano And China Sea Islands Alter World's Geography

by Markos Kounalakisvia McClatchy DC
Thursday, May 24, 2018
Kilauea’s volcanic lava flows are not only burning down Hawaiian homes on their path towards the Pacific Ocean but also creating new territory, adding landmass to the American state and making the Big Island even bigger.

Trump Moves Fast And Breaks Things To Disrupt World

by Markos Kounalakis
Thursday, May 17, 2018

Hang out in any Silicon Valley café and the word “disruption” is sure to be uttered at a nearby table. It is the keyword to unlock funding for forward-leaning ideas and the approach toward cutting out the middle man in transactions, leaving behind the inefficiencies in mediation, and burying the slow-to-change and inertia-bound in industry. Disruption is everything and everyone wants a piece of it. Including the American people.

Analysis and Commentary

Deal Or No Deal? America Wants A New Iran

by Markos Kounalakisvia McClatchy DC
Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The rift between America and Iran is currently as unbridgeable as the Persian Gulf. Iran and the United States are in a full-fledged battle to exert more influence over the Middle East, control the flow and price of energy, and to effect Israel’s status and survival. With President Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, the next phase of this battle has just begun.

The Other White House Correspondents Dinner – Russia Edition

by Markos Kounalakis
Thursday, May 3, 2018

On the banks of the Moscow River, standing tall, a gleaming white edifice, the site of the 1991 Russian resistance, where Boris Yeltsin climbed atop a tank and stood up against a Soviet military coup, is the Russian White House - the “Bely Dom” on the Krasnopresnenskaya Embankment.

Analysis and Commentary

Kanye West Can Help Trump Recognize The Armenian Genocide

by Markos Kounalakisvia McClatchy DC
Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Armenia is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Kanye West and the Kardashians. Truth is, however, Kanye has always cared and sang about justice and his wife's Armenian-American family has always felt strongly about the need to recognize one of the world's greatest crimes and injustices — the Armenian genocide.

Analysis and Commentary

First Lady Barbara Bush Made A Difference. Can Melania?

by Markos Kounalakisvia McClatchy DC
Wednesday, April 18, 2018

First ladies since Eleanor Roosevelt have developed over the years to do more than serve merely as White House hostess-in-chief. Barbara Bush took on an issue, applied her passion, and tried to move the needle on literacy. It’s now time to deploy Melania Trump where she can potentially make a difference. It’s time for her to visit her Central European home region to try and bring those countries back to the American fold.

Analysis and Commentary

Journalists Need To Watch Out For Turkey

by Markos Kounalakisvia McClatchy DC
Thursday, April 12, 2018

Working as a Middle East correspondent can be hazardous to your health. Freelance journalist Austin Tice is approaching the six year mark since his kidnapping in Syria. Reporter Marie Colvin was tracked and targeted for lethal attack by the Assad regime.

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