Evelyn Farkas

Foreign Policy & Global Trends Expert, Executive Director of the McCain Institute, and MSNBC National Security Contributor
Evelyn  Farkas
  • Advised three US Secretaries of Defense and was considered the Pentagon’s top Russia expert
  • Aiding in the advancement of character-driven leadership as the Executive Director of the McCain Institute
  • One of the nation’s premier authorities on American foreign policy and geopolitics
  • Outspoken voice on how America ought to respond to foreign allies and adversaries to secure a more peaceful and prosperous future

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Dr. Evelyn Farkas is one of the nation’s premier voices on American foreign policy and geopolitics, and one of the nation’s most-trusted experts on U.S.-Russia relations. As Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia/Ukraine/Eurasia, she was the Department of Defense’s top Russia expert under President Obama. Farkas advised three Secretaries of Defense during her tenure at the Pentagon and was responsible for policy toward Russia and the surrounding region. She is an outspoken voice on how America ought to respond to adversaries and manage aggressors, ranging from Russia to North Korea to Iran and China. Expertly positioned to discuss the at times tenuous intersection of foreign objectives and domestic priorities, Dr. Farkas appears regularly on CNN, MSNBC, BBC, and other networks. She currently serves as the executive director of the McCain Institute, and her op-eds are regularly featured in leading publications. She discusses how America’s position abroad is shifting under the current presidential administration, and the global gamut of national security challenges

Dr. Farkas’s government experience is impressive and wide-ranging, and she has served alongside some of the biggest names in Washington and abroad. She has a deep understanding of how major foreign policy decisions are made, having worked for about a decade in Congress and another decade for the Department of Defense. She skillfully dissects international disarray and its implications on businesses globally. Specific areas of focus have included foreign and defense policy in Asia Pacific and Latin America, special operations and counterterrorism, foreign military assistance, peace and stability operations, homeland defense, export control, and more. Former posts include: Senior Advisor for Public-Private Partnership to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe/Commander, U.S. European Command; Special Advisor for the Secretary of Defense for the NATO Summit; Executive Director of the Graham-Talent Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism; and senior staffer for the Senate Armed Services Committee.

From 2008-2009, Dr. Farkas served as Executive Director of the congressionally mandated bipartisan Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, which published its report “World at Risk” in 2008. Before that, she served for 7 years as a Professional Staff Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, conducting policy and budget oversight for over $20 billion of the Department of Defense policy office and military commands—including the U.S. Pacific Command, Special Operations Command, Southern Command, Northern Command, and U.S. Forces Korea. She also served in Bosnia in the 1990s as a Human Rights Officer for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and as an election observer in Bosnia and Afghanistan. She is a former Senior Fellow at the American Security Project, where she focused on stability and special operations, counterproliferation, and U.S.-Asia policy.

Dr. Farkas was a professor of international relations at the U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College, Marine Corps University. Her writing has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and The Boston Globe and on sites including The Daily Beast, Politico, and Foreign Policy. Her commentary has been featured on MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, and more, and she is the author of Fractured States and U.S. Foreign Policy: Iraq, Ethiopia, and Bosnia in the 1990s.

She obtained her MA and Ph.D. from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. She speaks fluent Hungarian and German, and has studied French, Spanish, Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian, Russian and Hindi. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, sits on several non-profit boards including Project 2049 Institute and previously served on the Board of Trustees of Franklin and Marshall College, and the Leadership Council-Women in National Security (LC-WINS.board. She has received several Department of Defense and foreign awards and has an honorary doctorate from Franklin & Marshall College.

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Speaker Video

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Evelyn Farkas: Time Investigates Syria's "White Helmets"

The State of US Foreign Affairs. Dr. Farkas draws on her deep and wide-ranging policy experience to take a look at the entire gamut of foreign policy and national security challenges facing the United States. The international order appears to be in disorder—Russia and China are challenging the rules of the road and states such as North Korea continue to develop new nuclear weapons capability. Meanwhile, Radical Islamic terrorists continue to fight for control of territory in Iraq, Syria, Libya, parts of Africa, and elsewhere and to execute deadly attacks worldwide.

How will this all play out? What can the United States do to secure a more profitable and peaceful future? What does this all mean for American interests domestically and abroad? This speech examines the greatest challenges and opportunities facing America today, and proposes approaches to prioritizing and managing geopolitical relationships in order to create a more stable and hopeful future.

The Perils Of Putin’s Russia: Why America Needs To Counter Russia & How. Dr. Evelyn Farkas is one of America’s top experts on US-Russia relations today and one of the foremost, credible voices on how to manage relations with Russia. A Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia under President Obama and three US Secretaries of Defense, she was responsible for crisis management in the aftermath of Russian military interventions in Europe and Syria, and for crafting policy towards Russia, the Black Sea, Caucasus, and the Balkans and on conventional arms control. Since she left government, she’s remained in the middle of the debates about US-Russia relations and the 2016 US presidential election.

With this talk, she looks at the impact Russian President Vladimir Putin has had on Russia, America, and the world. Dr. Farkas reviews the Kremlin’s main objectives over the last decade, as well as the problematic and shocking means they have used to advance this agenda. Touching on everything from Russian intelligence operations, military interventions and occupations, and violations of international treaties to election meddling, propaganda, and fake news, Dr. Farkas argues for a firm American response to curb Putin’s influence now and in the future. This talk is an invaluable tool for anyone seeking to better understand the true threat posed by Russia.

The Lunatic Fringe? North Korea, Platform Shoes, & The Bomb. North Korea has been seeking nuclear weapons for decades, and the international community has been trying to stop them since the 1990s. From the 1990s to the Obama administration, US policy oscillated between putting pressure on Pyongyang and offering incentives for diplomatic progress. The Obama administration opted to focus on compelling North Korea to forfeit their program through sanctions and a refusal to reward repeated nuclear and missile tests with assistance and negotiations. The speech reviews that approach as well as current options for managing the North Korean threat. This eye-opening speech is coupled with vivid observations from a 2008 trip as head of a Senate staff delegation to North Korea, including a visit to the nuclear facility in Yongbyon.

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