Laurel E. Miller

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Adjunct Political Scientist
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J.D., The University of Chicago Law School; A.B. in international affairs, Princeton University

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

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Laurel Miller is an adjunct political scientist at the RAND Corporation. Until June 2017, she was the acting special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the U.S. Department of State and prior to that principal deputy special representative. At the RAND Corporation from 2009 to 2013, Miller led and participated in national security and foreign policy studies on a wide range of subjects including democratization, conflict resolution, institution-building in weak states, and food security.

Miller has been an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, and an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown. During previous government service, she was senior advisor to the assistant secretary of state for European Affairs, senior advisor to the U.S. special envoy for the Balkans, and deputy to the ambassador-at-large for War Crimes Issues. She was directly involved in peace negotiations in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Macedonia. Miller also served as director for western hemisphere affairs at the National Security Council. In addition, she was a senior expert at the U.S. Institute of Peace, where she focused on constitution-making, rule of law development, and transitional justice. 

Earlier, Miller practiced law at Covington & Burling in Washington, DC, and Brussels, and clerked for a U.S. federal judge of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. She has been an international affairs fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations. Prior to her legal training, she was a graduate fellow in India and a reporter in Japan. Miller received her J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School, where she was an editor of the Law Review, and her A.B. from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Selected Publications

Laurel E. Miller, Jeffrey Martini, F. Stephen Larrabee, Angel Rabasa, Stephanie Pezard, Julie E. Taylor, Tewodaj Mengistu, Democratization in the Arab World: Prospects and Lessons from Around the Globe, RAND (MG-1192-RC), 2012

Larry Hanauer and Laurel E. Miller, Resolving Kirkuk: Lessons Learned from Settlements of Earlier Ethno-Territorial Conflicts, RAND (MG-1198-USFI), 2012

Angel Rabasa, John Gordon IV, Peter Chalk, Christopher S. Chivvis, Audra K. Grant, K. Scott McMahon, Laurel E. Miller, Marco Overhaus, Stephanie Pezard, From Insurgency to Stability: Volume I: Key Capabilities and Practices, RAND (MG-1111/1-OSD), 2011

Keith Crane, James Dobbins, Laurel E. Miller, Charles P. Ries, Christopher S. Chivvis, Marla C. Haims, Marco Overhaus, Heather Lee Schwartz, Elizabeth Wilke, Building a More Resilient Haitian State, RAND Corporation (MG-1039), 2010

Laurel E. Miller, ed., Framing the State in Times of Transition: Case Studies in Constitution Making, USIP Press, 2010

James F. Dobbins, Laurel E. Miller, Stephanie Pezard, Christopher Chivvis, Julie E. Taylor, Keith Crane, Calin Trenkov-Wermuth, and Tewodaj Mengistu, Overcoming Obstacles to Peace: Local Factors in Nation-Building, RAND (RR-167-CC), 2013

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: ABC Australia; Al Jazeera - English; The Atlantic; BBC Radio; Bloomberg; BNN (Canada); Business Insider; CBC (Canada); Christian Science Monitor; CNN; The Daily Beast; Foreign Policy; MSNBC – Rachel Maddow; New York Times; PBS NewsHour; Politico – Global Politico podcast; VOA News Online; Voice of America; Vox; The Wall Street Journal; Washington Post; United States Institute of Peace

Commentary: Financial Times; Foreign Policy; Los Angeles Times; The National Interest; Newsweek; New York Times; USA Today; US News & World Report

Video Interviews: United States Institute of Peace


  • A Taliban (R) stands as Afghan security forces ride on an army vehicle during a celebration of a ceasefire in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, June 16, 2018

    Afghan Ceasefires Offer Hope for a Peaceful Future

    Parallel ceasefires in Afghanistan by the Afghan government and the Taliban for the end of the holy month of Ramadan brought a short respite from the violence. This was an unprecedented development, but was it an opening for resolution of the conflict?

    Jun 25, 2018 The Hill

  • Laurel Miller, senior political scientist at RAND

    A Way Forward in Afghanistan: Q&A with Laurel Miller

    As the United States approaches its 17th year of military involvement in Afghanistan, Laurel Miller, a senior foreign policy expert at RAND, describes the current situation and hopes for the future.

    Jun 21, 2018

  • U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis speaks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 13, 2018

    Is America Ready for a Peace Deal in Afghanistan?

    The Trump administration appears to be following its predecessor in imagining a political endgame in Afghanistan. It is focused on military efforts to try to turn the tide of the conflict, in hopes of negotiating from a stronger position. But if all sides continue to seek military advantage, negotiations will never commence.

    Apr 27, 2018 The National Interest

  • Two boys stand near fuel trucks that were set ablaze in the Bolan district of Pakistan's Baluchistan province, December 12, 2011

    The United States and Pakistan: Best Frenemies Forever?

    A realistic approach to dealing with Pakistan does not mean selling out Afghanistan or taking a loss on the substantial U.S. investment in the region. Rather, it is necessary for giving Afghanistan a better shot at a more stable future than the current approach is likely to produce.

    Jan 16, 2018 The National Interest

  • An Afghan tribal elder speaks to key leaders with the National Police, Afghan National Army, and Task Force Southwest during a shura at Camp Nolay, Helmand, Afghanistan, May 25, 2017

    President Trump's Recommitment to Nation-Building in Afghanistan

    In his speech on Afghanistan, President Trump maintained his stance against nation-building. But like President Obama's policy, the refreshed approach hinges on the U.S. developing Afghan government capabilities to fight the Taliban, provide for the country's long-term security, and serve as a counterterrorism partner.

    Aug 30, 2017 Newsweek

  • U.S. Marines, British and Afghan troops attend a handover ceremony in Helmand province, October 26, 2014

    A Peace 'Surge' to End War in Afghanistan

    President Trump has no easy options in Afghanistan. A surge of U.S. commitment to negotiating a political settlement would not remove all the obstacles, but it is a prerequisite.

    Jul 24, 2017 New York Times

  • On Dec. 4, 2012, Egyptians marched to the federal palace to reject the constitution referendum

    Egypt's Constitutional Referendum Was an Opportunity Lost

    The Egyptian process left no room for broad deliberation of the constitutional issues, or even for educating citizens about the text of the document on which they were asked to vote, writes Laurel Miller.

    Dec 21, 2012 U.S. News & World Report

  • Anti-Mursi protesters chant anti-government slogans in Tahrir Square in Cairo November 27, 2012

    Don't Give Up on Egypt's Political Transition Just Yet

    Many transitions around the world in recent decades have been just as chaotic, yet 180-degree returns to autocracy have been exceedingly rare, writes Laurel Miller.

    Nov 28, 2012 U.S. News & World Report

  • Arab Spring protestors holding up a symbol from the Tunisian flag

    In Brief: Laurel E. Miller and Jeffrey Martini on Democratization in the Arab World

    In this two-minute video blog, RAND's Laurel Miller and Jeffery Martini discuss the challenges ahead for democracy after the Arab Spring as the countries in the Arab world rebuild, work to find a balance between civilian and military authorities, and include Islamist voices in the democratic process.

    Nov 13, 2012

  • Rebels traveling in the back of a pickup truck in a town in northern Syria

    Don't Blame Unrest on Arab Spring

    The roots of the unrest are not in the desire to cast off authoritarian regimes that took expression in Arab Spring protests. The roots came before the uprisings, and progress will take longer than we wish, writes Laurel Miller.

    Oct 22, 2012 USA Today

  • Celebrating that Mohamed Morsi has won the presidential elections - or/and that Shafik has lost

    How Does Arab Spring Compare to Third Wave Transitions?

    The changes underway in the Arab world may lead to various possible destinations that differ both from their points of departure and from liberal democracy, write Laurel Miller and Jeffrey Martini.

    Aug 17, 2012 Democracy Digest

  • A To-Do List for Shoring Up Haiti

    It is not enough to raise stronger buildings. What Haiti truly needs is a more resilient and effective government, write James Dobbins and Laurel Miller.

    Aug 23, 2010 Los Angeles Times