Stephen J. Flanagan

Photo of Stephen Flanagan
Senior Political Scientist
Washington Office


Ph.D. in international relations, Fletcher School, Tufts University; A.B. in political science, Columbia University

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

More Experts


Stephen J. Flanagan is a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation. He served in several senior positions in government, most recently as special assistant to the president and senior director for defense policy and strategy at the National Security Council (NSC) Staff from April 2013 to September 2015. Between 1989 and 1999 he served as special assistant to the president and senior director for Central and Eastern Europe, at the NSC Staff; associate director and member of the State Department's Policy Planning Staff; and national intelligence officer for Europe. Early in his career, he was a professional staff member of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. He held the Kissinger Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) from 2007 until 2013, where he also served as senior vice president and director of the International Security Program. From 2000 to 2007 he was director of the Institute for National Strategic Studies and vice president for research at the National Defense University. He has also held research and faculty positions at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, the Council on Foreign Relations, Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and the National War College. Flanagan has published six books and many reports and journal articles on transatlantic, international security, and defense issues, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He earned an A.B. in political science from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in international relations from the Fletcher School, Tufts University.

Recent Projects

  • Russia, NATO, and Black Sea Security Strategy
  • Turkey's Nationalist Course: Implications for the U.S.-Turkish Strategic Partnership
  • Deterring Russian Aggression in the Baltic States Through Resilience and Resistance
  • Stability and Messaging in the Space Domain

Selected Publications

Stephen J. Flanagan, "The Turkey, Russia, Iran Nexus: Eurasian Power Dynamics," The Washington Quarterly, (Winter), 2013

Stephen J. Flanagan, Defense in an Age of Austerity: Implications for Transatlantic Power Projection and Strategic Cooperation, German Marshall Fund of the U.S., 2012

Stephen J. Flanagan, A Diminishing Transatlantic Partnership? The Impact of Financial Crisis on European Defense and Foreign Assistance Capabilities, CSIS Press, 2011

Stephen J. Flanagan, T.J. Cipoletti, Amanda Tuninetti, Afghanistan: A Stress Test for Transatlantic Security Cooperation, CSIS Press, 2011

Stephen J. Flanagan, James A. Schear, Strategic Challenges: America's Global Security Agenda, National Defense University and Potomac Books, 2007

Honors & Awards

  • Joint Distinguished Civilian Service Award, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (2007)
  • Meritorious Service and Superior Honor Award (1992,1998), Department of State
  • High decorations for contribution to bilateral and transatlantic relations (2000), President of Poland and President of Romania



Recent Media Appearances

Video Interviews: BBC News; C-SPAN Washington Journal; Defense and Aerospace Report; KJZZ-FM Online


  • Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (left) shakes hands with U.S President Donald Trump in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, May 16, 2017

    A Turning Point in U.S-Turkish Relations?

    While Turkish President Erdogan and U.S. President Trump emphasized the positive aspects of bilateral relations after their meeting, there remain points of contention. The stakes at this meeting and its outcome are high for both Turkey and the United States, and could mark a major milestone in the relationship.

    May 21, 2017 U.S. News & World Report

  • A Lithuanian army soldier holds the national flag during the NATO Force Integration Unit inauguration event in Vilnius, Lithuania, September 3, 2015

    'If You Want Peace, Prepare for Resistance'

    Lithuania's government issued a guide on how its citizens can resist a potential Russian invasion and occupation. Resistance is a key element of the “Total Defense” strategy all three Baltic states have been pursuing, spurred on by Russian aggression.

    Nov 22, 2016 The National Interest

  • The aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman transits the Atlantic Ocean on a deployment in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts

    NATO's Russia Problem: The Alliance's Tough Road Ahead Post-Warsaw Summit

    NATO emerged from Warsaw more unified than some had predicted it would, especially after the shock of Brexit. But with strained economies, rising populism, and persistent threats from the East and the South, NATO still faces an uphill battle.

    Jul 13, 2016 The National Interest

  • Ukrainian and U.S. Sailors aboard of the guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) work together on the forecastle of the ship as it departs Sevastopol Jan 30, 2012.

    The Growing Importance of Black Sea Security

    The U.S. and NATO response to Russia's more assertive policy in Europe since 2014 has focused heavily on deterring possible Russian threats to the Baltic region. As allies take steps to strengthen defense of the Baltic region, they need to pay increased attention to enhancing security and deterrence in the Black Sea area.

    Jul 11, 2016 U.S. News & World Report