F. Stephen Larrabee

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Distinguished Chair in European Security (Emeritus); Senior Political Scientist; Faculty Member, Pardee RAND Graduate School
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Ph.D. in political science, Columbia University; M.A. in international relations, Columbia University; B.A., Amherst College

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F. Stephen Larrabee is a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation, its Distinguished Chair Emeritus in European Security, and a member of the Pardee RAND Graduate School faculty.

Before joining RAND, Larrabee served as vice president and director of studies of the Institute of East–West Security Studies in New York from 1983 to 1989, and was also a Distinguished Scholar in Residence (1989–1990). From 1978 to 1981, he served on the U.S. National Security Council staff in the White House as a specialist on Soviet–East European affairs and East-West political-military relations.

Larrabee's RAND monographs include Troubled Partnership: U.S.-Turkish Relations in an Era of Global Geopolitical Change (2010); Turkey as a U.S. Security Partner (2008); The Rise of Political Islam in Turkey (with Angel Rabasa, 2008); and Encouraging Trade and Foreign Direct Investment in Ukraine (with Keith Crane, 2007). His articles include "Arming Europe," in The National Interest (with Seth G. Jones, Winter 2005–2006); and "ESDP and NATO: Assuring Complementarity," in The International Spectator (January–March 2004).

In addition, Larrabee is the coauthor (with Julian Lindley-French) of Revitalizing the Transatlantic Security Partnership: An Agenda for Action (RAND/Bertelsmann Stiftung, 2008); the editor of The Volatile Powder Keg: Balkan Security After the Cold War (American University Press, 1994); and coeditor (with Robert Blackwill) of Conventional Arms Control and East-West Security (Duke University Press, 1989).

Larrabee has taught at Columbia, Cornell, New York, Johns Hopkins, Georgetown, and The George Washington universities, and at the University of Southern California. He received his Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University.

Previous Positions

Vice President and Director of Studies, Institute for East–West Security Studies, New York; member, National Security Council staff

Recent Projects

  • U.S.–Turkish relations
  • Political Islam in Turkey
  • France and NATO
  • Ukraine and NATO
  • U.S. policy toward the Black Sea region


Russian; German; French; Bulgarian; Modern Greek

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: Agence France Press; Al Jazeera; BBC World News; Christian Science Monitor; CNN; Voice of America; Wall Street Journal; Washington Times


  • Russian President Putin and Turkish President Erdogan meet to sign a bilateral agreement on construction of the TurkStream undersea gas pipeline in Istanbul, Turkey, October 10, 2016

    The Turkish-Russian Rapprochement: How Real? How Durable?

    The recent strengthening of ties between Turkey and Russia may represent more of an economic marriage of convenience than a deeply rooted political alliance. On a number of important issues, particularly the Syrian conflict, the two nations have very different interests and priorities.

    Nov 21, 2016 The National Interest

  • The Royal Navy destroyer HMS Diamond alongside the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower conducting maritime security operations and support missions for Operation Enduring Freedom, November 4, 2012

    Sustaining Britain's Role in NATO After Brexit

    In this period of geostrategic uncertainty about the future of the UK during its divorce from the EU, the U.S. should provide robust diplomatic and political support to ensure that Britain remains a major military power within the Atlantic Alliance.

    Aug 4, 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

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin at the national defense control center in Moscow, April 17, 2015

    Putin: Eyes Wide Shut

    The Russia that the United States faces today is more assertive and more unpredictable—and thus, in many ways, more dangerous—than the Russia that the U.S. confronted during the latter part of the Cold War.

    Apr 20, 2015 GlobalSecurity.org and The RAND Blog

  • NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen during an interview with Reuters at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels, August 11, 2014

    NATO's Crucial Summit

    President Obama can take action now to ensure the September NATO summit in Wales underscores transatlantic resolve and capability in the face of Russian aggression and provide the strong, decisive U.S. leadership NATO needs in this time of crisis.

    Aug 15, 2014 CNN

  • French soldiers take up positions outside Markala, Mali, January 19, 2013

    NATO Needs a Southern Strategy

    If NATO wants to avoid strategic irrelevance, it needs to give increasing attention to the threats from the Middle East and North Africa region. A southern strategy should draw on recent experience, such as NATO's intervention in Libya and the successful operation in Mali.

    Feb 26, 2014 Epoch Times

  • Anti-government protesters stand behind burning barricades in Kiev's Independence Square February 19, 2014

    How the West Can Help End the Violence in Ukraine

    The Ukrainian crisis has taken a dangerous and deadly turn for the worse with violent clashes between protesters and Interior Ministry troops. The West should move quickly on an aid package conditioned on economic and political reform.

    Feb 19, 2014 U.S. News & World Report

  • Pro-European integration protesters wave flags during a rally in Independence square in Kiev December 22, 2013

    Preserving Ukraine's European Choice

    The United States and the EU have a strong stake in keeping open a European option for Ukraine. A reorientation of Ukrainian policy back toward Russia would shift the strategic balance in Europe and have a negative impact on the prospects for democratic change on Europe's eastern periphery.

    Dec 24, 2013 The RAND Blog and GlobalSecurity.org

  • Italy's Prime Minister Enrico Letta, U.S. President Barack Obama, and Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron attend the working dinner after the session of the G20 Summit in Strelna near St. Petersburg, September 5, 2013

    A Not-So-Special Relationship?

    While the House of Commons vote against Britain's participation in a military strike against Syria was largely attributable to short-term miscalculations on Cameron's part, it also reflects important long-term trends that could complicate U.S.-British ties and weaken the traditionally strong bonds between the two countries.

    Sep 11, 2013 U.S. News & World Report

  • A photo of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in Aleppo, Syria.

    RAND Experts Q&A on Syria

    There are increasing reports suggesting that President Obama will soon take military action against the Syrian government, perhaps targeting its chemical weapons facilities. Several RAND experts spoke with us about the latest developments.

    Aug 30, 2013

  • Members of the Free Syrian Army gather as gunfire is heard between them and the armed Kurds of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in the northern Syrian town of Ras al-Ain, Nov. 25, 2012.

    Is Turkey Rethinking the Syrian Kurd Issue?

    An autonomous Kurdish region that remains an integral part of Syria, even one dominated by the PYD (the Democratic Union, the largest and best organized Kurdish opposition party), would be far less dangerous than one dominated by forces affiliated with al Qaeda.

    Aug 21, 2013 CNN

  • Turkey Prime Minister Erdogan speaking at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East, North Africa and Eurasia in Istanbul, June 2012

    The Biggest Loser of Cairo's Coup: Turkey

    The military coup deposing Egypt's first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi, has sparked an important shift in the regional balance of power in the Middle East. Morsi's ouster deals a strong blow to the Turkey-Qatar-Egypt “pro-change” axis and to Turkey's hopes of playing a larger role in the region.

    Jul 19, 2013 U.S. News & World Report

  • Recep Tayyip Erdogan - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2009

    Erdogan's Next Steps

    Safeguarding Turkey's interests — and Erdogan's own political agenda — depends on Erdogan's willingness to adopt a more even-handed approach to his domestic opponents, writes F. Stephen Larrabee.

    Jun 28, 2013 Project Syndicate

  • Protestors clash with Turkish riot policemen on the way to Taksim Square in Istanbul on June 5, 2013

    Turkey's Perfect Storm

    The spontaneous protests in Turkey, which began in Istanbul and have spread to over 70 Turkish cities, have raised serious questions about Turkey's political stability and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's leadership, writes F. Stephen Larrabee.

    Jun 14, 2013 U.S. News & World Report

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu at a news conference in Ankara, March 1, 2013

    Why It's No Longer the Chummy 1990s for Turkey, Israel

    President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are working hard to repair relations between Turkey and Israel and deserve credit for their efforts. But much has changed for both countries since they cooperated in the 1990s, and progress toward rapprochement will likely be slow.

    Apr 8, 2013 Christian Science Monitor

  • Pro-Kurdish politicians read the statement of jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan ordering his fighters to cease fire and withdraw from Turkish soil during a gathering to celebrate Newroz in the Turkish city of Diyarbakir on March 21, 2013

    Why Erdogan Wants Peace with the PKK

    With the leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) now apparently ready to try to peacefully resolve differences with Turkey, the prospects that the uprising will come to an end have improved, writes F. Stephen Larrabee.

    Mar 27, 2013 Foreign Affairs

  • radioactive icon

    The Syrian Game Changer

    The Obama administration should capitalize on recent international coordination, taking the lead in organizing an international coalition devoted to containing Syria's chemical-weapons arsenal, write F. Stephen Larrabee and Peter Wilson.

    Feb 1, 2013 Project Syndicate

  • Free Syrian Army fighters take cover in the old city of Aleppo August 27, 2012

    Taking Syria Seriously

    The US needs a more activist, assertive policy toward Syria aimed at ending the conflict in such a way that bolsters regional stability and facilitates a peaceful democratic transition, write F. Stephen Larrabee and Wasif Syed.

    Aug 27, 2012 Project Syndicate

  • Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shakes hands with Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul May 9, 2011

    The Turkish-Iranian Alliance That Wasn't

    As pressures for greater democracy in the Middle East have intensified, Turkey and Iran have clashed more openly and each side has sought to expand its influence at the expense of the other, writes F. Stephen Larrabee.

    Jul 12, 2012 Foreign Affairs

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his news conference at the NATO summit in Bucharest April 4, 2008

    Putin's NATO Dis: Cold Winds from Moscow

    The decision by President Putin not to attend the NATO summit and the G-8 summit is a blow to the Obama administration's hopes of building closer ties to Russia and underscores that the effort to

    May 17, 2012 Chicago Tribune

  • U.S. President Barack Obama walks out before he holds a news conference after the 2012 NATO Summit in Chicago at McCormick Place in Chicago, May 21, 2012

    NATO's Shrinking Resources

    At a time when the European Union faces mounting economic and political challenges, maintaining a strong, vibrant Atlantic alliance is more important than ever, write F. Stephen Larrabee and Peter A. Wilson.

    May 16, 2012 NYTimes.com on May 16, 2012 and in International Herald Tribune

  • Russia Protests Are Overblown by West—Putin Is Here to Stay

    As long as the pressure for greater transparency and political change remains limited to the middle class in Moscow and a few urban areas, its political impact is likely to be limited, writes F. Stephen Larrabee.

    Apr 17, 2012 Christian Science Monitor

  • Europe's Ukrainian Test

    The EU should conclude the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) with Ukraine only if the Yanukovych administration demonstrates clear commitment to European values, write F. Stephen Larrabee and Taras Kuzio.

    Jun 30, 2011 Project Syndicate

  • Obama's Calculated Gamble on Libya Strategy

    Pushing the European allies, especially Britain and France, to take more responsibility in managing crises would reduce the costs and burdens on the United States while providing an incentive for the Europeans to take defense more seriously, writes F. Stephen Larrabee.

    Apr 4, 2011 CNN

  • The Turkish Chimera

    The Turkish model -- with its emphasis on secularism and democracy -- has obvious appeal in a region burdened by corrupt, autocratic, incompetent, and inefficient governments. But Turkey's historical experience and political evolution differ in important ways from Arab countries', writes F. Stephen Larrabee.

    Mar 23, 2011 Project Syndicate

  • The US Midterm Elections and US-Turkish Relations

    Some Turkish commentators have written off Obama as a lame duck and advised the Recep Tayyip Erdoğan government to begin reconsidering relations in the post-election period. However, foreign policy played virtually no role in the election, writes F. Stephen Larrabee.

    Nov 23, 2010 Hürriyet Daily News and Economic Review

  • Budget Cuts Are Cracking the West's Defenses

    Washington would be wise to work closely with Britain and France to ensure that their budget cuts do not threaten how the allies will, together, address common threats and security challenges, write F. Stephen Larrabee and Peter A. Wilson.

    Aug 17, 2010 Christian Science Monitor

  • Don't Lose Ukraine

    United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to Ukraine on July 4-5 provides an important opportunity to reassure Ukrainians that the U.S. remains committed to Ukraine's sovereignty and democratic evolution, write Taras Kuzio and F. Stephen Larrabee.

    Jun 25, 2010 Project Syndicate

  • Building on Greek-Turkish Detente

    Greece's high defense spending has contributed to its economic woes. Improvement in relations with Turkey could enable Greece to cut defense spending and make it easier to rescue an economy on the brink of bankruptcy, write F. Stephen Larrabee and Charles Ries.

    May 10, 2010 Project Syndicate

  • Biden's Task in Eastern Europe: Reassurance

    After the decision to cancel missile defense plans in Poland and the Czech Republic, the US needs to do more than damage control to soothe ties there, write F. Stephen Larrabee and Christopher Chivvis.

    Oct 20, 2009 The Christian Science Monitor

  • Russia and the Perils of Personal Diplomacy

    As President Obama takes part in his first U.S.-Russian summit, a good deal of media attention has focused on whether he will be able to establish good personal relations with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev. The preoccupation with personal relations between these two countries has a long tradition. But it has rarely proved successful.

    Jul 6, 2009 NYTimes.com

  • Obama's Turkish Dilemma

    President Obama's visit to Ankara this week highlights Turkey's growing strategic importance to the United States - and a high stakes dilemma for the President and for U.S. strategic interests, writes F. Stephen Larrabee.

    Apr 6, 2009 CNN

  • France's Creeping Reintegration

    At the upcoming NATO summit in Strasbourg-Kehl, French President Sarkozy is expected to formally announce France's return to NATO's integrated military command, from which President de Gaulle withdrew France in 1966. The full reintegration of France into NATO, if confirmed, will remove an important irritant in U.S.-French relations and open up new possibilities for strengthening U.S.-European cooperation more broadly, writes Stephen Larrabee.

    Mar 24, 2009 GlobalSecurity.org

  • Afghanistan: The Regional Solution

    The Obama Administration's decision to commit another 17,000 troops to Afghanistan is unlikely to have an important effect unless it is part of a broader shift in U.S. and coalition strategy, write F. Stephen Larrabee and Julian Lindley-French.

    Mar 4, 2009 CNN.com

  • A Trans-Atlantic Moment

    The election of Barack Obama provides an important opportunity to revitalize the trans-Atlantic security partnership. This partnership has served both sides well in the past. But after eight years of deep ideological differences during the Bush administration, it is badly frayed and in need of new leadership and new vision, write F. Stephen Larrabee and Julian Lindley-French.

    Feb 22, 2009 The Washington Times

  • Ukraine: The Next Crisis?

    The Russian invasion of Georgia has sent shock waves throughout the West and the former Soviet space - especially Ukraine. Indeed, Ukraine could be the next potential crisis, writes F. Stephen Larrabee.

    Sep 7, 2008 Project Syndicate

  • Turkey's Second Chance

    The recent decision by the Turkish Constitutional Court not to close the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) helped Turkey - and especially Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan - narrowly dodge a dangerous political bullet, writes F. Stephen Larrabee.

    Aug 24, 2008 Washington Times

  • Turkey's Broadening Crisis

    Turkey is facing a domestic political crisis that not only threatens the country's internal stability but could weaken its ties to the West and exacerbate instability in the Middle East, writes F. Stephen Larrabee.

    Jul 25, 2008 International Herald Tribune

  • Georgia on Their Mind

    As NATO heads toward its summit meeting in Bucharest on April 3-4, the question of NATO enlargement — especially whether to give Membership Action Plans, or MAPs, to Georgia and Ukraine — has re-emerged as a contentious issue, writes F. Stephen Larrabee.

    Mar 27, 2008 International Herald Tribune

  • Rebuilding Arms Control

    Rebuilding Arms Control, in United Press International

    Aug 10, 2007 United Press International

  • In Ukraine, Four Steps to Democracy

    In Ukraine, Four Steps to Democracy, in Washingtonpost.com.

    Jun 28, 2007 Washingtonpost.com

  • A War of Nerves in Turkey

    A War of Nerves in Turkey in Project Syndicate (an association that distributes commentaries to 291 newspapers in 115 countries)

    May 12, 2007 Project Syndicate

  • How Not to Promote American Missile Defense in Europe

    Published commentary by RAND staff: How Not to Promote American Missile Defense in Europe, in Project Syndicate--an association that distributes commentaries to 291 newspapers in 115 countries.

    Apr 27, 2007 Project Syndicate

  • Missile Defense: Avoiding a Crisis in Europe

    Published commentary by RAND staff: Missile Defense: Avoiding a Crisis in Europe, in International Herald Tribune.

    Mar 29, 2007 International Herald Tribune

  • C. Asia's Great Game

    Published commentary by RAND staff: C. Asia's Great Game, in United Press International.

    Mar 5, 2007 United Press International

  • America's Turkey Problem

    Published commentary by RAND staff: America's Turkey Problem, in United Press International.

    Feb 23, 2007 United Press International

  • Central Asia's Other 'Turkmenbashis'

    Published commentary by RAND staff: Central Asia's Other 'Turkmenbashis', in Project Syndicate--an association that distributes commentaries to 291 newspapers in 115 countries.

    Jan 15, 2007 Project Syndicate

  • Winning Back the Turks

    Published commentary by RAND staff: Winning Back the Turks, in International Herald Tribune.

    Nov 14, 2006 International Herald Tribune

  • Averting War with Iran

    Published commentary by RAND staff: Averting War with Iran, in United Press International.

    May 2, 2006 United Press International

  • Ukraine's New Politics

    Published commentary by RAND staff: Ukraine's New Politics, in United Press International.

    Apr 8, 2006 United Press International

  • Defusing the Iranian Crisis

    Published commentary by RAND staff: Defusing the Iranian Crisis, in the Orange County Register.

    Mar 9, 2006 Orange County Register

  • Let's Avoid Another Trans-Atlantic Feud

    Published commentary by RAND staff: Let's Avoid Another Trans-Atlantic Feud, in International Herald Tribune.

    Jan 13, 2006 International Herald Tribune

  • Revitalizing U.S.-Turkey Relations

    The White House meeting between Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Bush today provides an important opportunity to revitalize U.S.-Turkish relations, badly frayed by the American-led invasion of Iraq

    Jun 8, 2005 Washington Times

  • Western Strategy for Ukraine

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Feb 10, 2005 United Press International

  • Outside View: Russia's Caucasus Gambit

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Nov 22, 2004 United Press International

  • 'Old Europe' and the New NATO

    When it comes to the defense of core Western values, the record of the new entrants to NATO is encouraging. It suggests that 'Old Europe' may have something to learn from 'New Europe,' writes Stephen Larrabee in an commentary

    Feb 18, 2003 San Diego Union-Tribune

  • Turkey Walks a Tightrope Over Iraq Issues

    commentaries by RAND Staff: insightful commentaries on current events, published in newspapers, magazines and journals worldwide.

    Jan 17, 2003 Newsday

  • Mr. Bush and Herr Schroeder, Tear Down This Wall

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Oct 30, 2002 Los Angeles Times