James Dobbins

Photo of James Dobbins
Senior Fellow; Distinguished Chair in Diplomacy and Security
Washington Office


B.S. in international affairs, Georgetown School of Foreign Service

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email media@rand.org.

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Ambassador James Dobbins is a senior fellow and distinguished chair in Diplomacy and Security at the RAND Corporation. He has held State Department and White House posts including assistant secretary of State for Europe, special assistant to the president for the Western Hemisphere, special adviser to the president, secretary of State for the Balkans, and ambassador to the European Community. Dobbins has served on numerous crisis management and diplomatic troubleshooting assignments as special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Kosovo, Bosnia, Haiti, and Somalia for the administrations of Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. In 2013 he returned to the State Department to become the Obama administration's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, returning to RAND in 2014. Dobbins is author of the memoir, Foreign Service: Five Decades on the Frontlines of American Diplomacy.

Previous Positions

Assistant Secretary of State for Europe; Special Assistant to the President for the Western Hemisphere; Special Adviser to the President and Secretary of State for the Balkans; Ambassador to the European Community; Clinton administration's Special Envoy for Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo; Bush administration's first Special Envoy for Afghanistan; Bush administration's representative to the Afghan opposition in the wake of September 11, 2001

Selected Publications

James Dobbins et al., Choices for America in a Turbulent World, RAND Corporation (RR-1114), 2015

James Dobbins, Ending Afghanistan's Civil War, RAND Corporation (CT-271), 2007

James Dobbins et al., The Beginner's Guide to Nation-Building, RAND Corporation (MG-557), 2007

James Dobbins et al., America's Role in Nation-Building: From Germany to Iraq, RAND Corporation (MR-1753), 2005

James Dobbins et al., The UN's Role in Nation-Building: From the Congo to Iraq, RAND Corporation (MG-304), 2005

James Dobbins, Foreign Service: Five Decades on the Frontlines of American Diplomacy, Brookings Institution, 2017

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: ABC; Afghanistan International; Al-Ahram Weekly; Al Arabiya; Al-Watan, Egypt; Associated Press TV; BBC; Bloomberg; CBC Radio One; CBS; Channel News Asia; Chicago Tribune; Christian Science Monitor; The Cipher Brief; CNBC; CNN; Copley News Service; Cox News Service; CRI Online Portuguese; The Crisis Next Door; C-SPAN; Financial Times; Foreign Affairs; Foreign Policy; Fox News; The Globe and Mail; Houston Chronicle; Huffington Post; International Herald Tribune; Irish Times; KCBS Radio Blogs; KCRW-FM; Knight Ridder; NBC; Newsday; NPR; PBS; Philadelphia Inquirer; Pravda; Radio Free Afghanistan; Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty; RealClearPolitics; Reuters; Rossiya Segodnya - Russia Today; The Rubin Report; South China Morning Post; Voice of America; WAMU, The Diane Rehm Show; Washington Post; WBUR-FM Online; WWL-AM

Commentary: The Cipher Brief; The Diplomat; Financial Times; Foreign Affairs; Foreign Policy; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung; The Hill; International Herald Tribune; The Mark News; New York Times; Orange County Register; Politico; United Press International; USA Today; U.S. News & World Report; Washington Post