Robert G. Kaufman


Robert G. Kaufman is  Robert and Katheryn Dockson Professor at Pepperdine University's School of Public Policy.  He is the author of four books, including his most recent, Dangerous Doctrine: How Obama's Grand Strategy Weakened America', which University Press of Kentucky Published in May 2016.  He has written extensively for scholarly journals and for opinion pages, including The Wall Street Journal, Fox, The Daily Caller, The New York Times, and the Washington Times.  

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Revisiting Past Mistakes: A Revival of the Iranian Nuclear Deal

by Robert G. Kaufmanvia Strategika
Monday, August 2, 2021

Samuel Johnson described a second marriage as a triumph of hope over experience. This adage sums up the Biden administration’s determination to revive Obama’s dangerous doctrine in the Middle East that failed dismally the first time around. Worse, this reprise of past mistakes threatens to undo the significant though provisional progress the Trump administration achieved in the region by doing exactly the opposite of its predecessor.

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Will The Covid-19 Pandemic Confound Or Enable China’s Strategic Ambitions?

by Robert G. Kaufmanvia Strategika
Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Will China’s negligence unleashing the coronavirus and mendacity exploiting it catalyze a reckoning with the PRC, comparable in significance to the Czech Coup of 1948? And will it crystallize long-term American determination to contest China’s scheme to supplant the United States as the world’s preeminent power? 

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The Prudence and Limits of President Trump’s Strategy of Recalibrating American Engagement in the Middle East

by Robert G. Kaufmanvia Strategika
Friday, January 10, 2020

For too long, the Middle East has dominated American foreign policy agenda to the detriment of addressing the nation’s most significant long-term challenges. The Trump Administration’s National Security Strategy has begun prudently to correct that, recalibrating America’s ranking of interests and threats to reflect geopolitical realities.

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The Virtues, Vices, and Limits of Embargoes and Sanctions

by Robert G. Kaufmanvia Strategika
Friday, December 20, 2019

Economic embargoes and targeted sanctions have a long but mixed legacy as tools of statecraft. The first major American attempt to employ sanctions dates back as far as the Embargo Act of 1807, which intended to punish Great Britain and France for interfering with American shipping during the Napoleonic phase of the wars of the French Revolution. Economic sanctions have become increasingly popular as a way of achieving a variety of goals—deterrence, coercion, the protection of human rights, raising the cost of aggression, bolstering allies, virtue-signaling or choosing the least bad means for addressing an international threat when the alternatives of doing nothing or resorting to force appear worse. The United States now employs sanctions of varying comprehensiveness and severity against more than thirty countries and terrorist entities, including Russia, Syria, Iran, Cuba, and North Korea. 

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Nyet to the Reset

by Robert G. Kaufmanvia Strategika
Friday, February 15, 2019

Any reset with Putin’s increasingly illiberal and expansionist Russia is a triumph of hope over experience. Unrealistic realists underestimate the importance of ideology and regime type in assessing Russia’s calculus of its ambitions and interest.

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Urging More From Our NATO Allies

by Robert G. Kaufmanvia Strategika
Thursday, January 17, 2019

The United States should never expect to achieve full burden-sharing with the European members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Even in the most balanced alliances, the most powerful member will pay some premium for ensuring its credibility and effectiveness. The United States can strive plausibly to minimize but not eliminate the massive degree of free riding and strategic incoherence that has become politically untenable and strategically unwise. 

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Two First Quarter Cheers For Trump’s Principled Realism

by Robert G. Kaufmanvia Strategika
Thursday, September 28, 2017

The content and trajectory of Donald Trump’s foreign policy have defied the expectations of many of his supporters as well as his critics across the political spectrum. The President has moved a long way from his campaign positions of denigrating the value of America’s democratic alliances and renouncing America’s role as the world’s default power essential to deterring hegemonic threats in vital geopolitical regions. 

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Why NATO Matters And How to Revive It After Brexit

by Robert G. Kaufmanvia Hoover Institution Press
Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A robust NATO remains a vital interest of the United States.  The greatest threat to its credibility comes not from Brexit, but the dangerous erosion of American power and purpose eight years of President Obama's Dangerous Doctrine has wrought. The restoration of American military power is the single most important measure the United States can take to ensure that NATO serves its essential purpose of keeping Putin out of Central Europe, keeping Germany pro-Western, and keeping the United States engaged as the default power in Europe and globally.  Paradoxically, Donald Trump's Presidency may spell the revival of NATO if he follows through on his commitment to increase defense spending substantially and sheds his illusions about Putin.