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Ambassador Karl Eikenberry

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Karl Eikenberry headshotAmbassador Karl Eikenberry

Karl Eikenberry is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Stimson Center, a faculty member of Schwarzman College in Beijing, China, and a Senior Advisor to the United States Institute for Peace.  He is a former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan and Lieutenant General, U.S. Army (retired).

From 2021 – 2023 he lived in Riyadh focusing on Saudi Arabia's defense transformation.

Previously, he was the Director of the U.S.-Asia Security Initiative at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center and taught at Stanford University. 

Prior to his arrival at Stanford, he served as the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan from 2009 until 2011.  Before appointment as Chief of Mission in Kabul, Ambassador Eikenberry had a thirty-five-year career in the United States Army, retiring with the rank of lieutenant general.  His military operational posts included as commander and staff officer with mechanized, light, airborne, and ranger infantry units in the continental U.S., Hawaii, Korea, Italy, and as the Commander of the American-led Coalition forces in Afghanistan.  He held various policy and political-military positions, including Deputy Chairman of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Military Committee in Brussels, Belgium; Director for Strategic Planning and Policy for U.S. Pacific Command at Camp Smith, Hawaii; and Assistant Army and later Defense Attaché at the United States Embassy in Beijing.

He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, holds master’s degrees from Harvard University in East Asian Studies and Stanford University in Political Science, and was a National Security Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.  Ambassador Eikenberry earned an Interpreter’s Certificate in Mandarin Chinese from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office while studying at the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence Chinese Language School in Hong Kong and has an Advanced Degree in Chinese History from Nanjing University in the People’s Republic of China.

His military awards include the Defense Distinguished and Superior Service Medals, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Ranger Tab, Combat and Expert Infantryman Badges, and master parachutist wings.  He has received the Department of State Distinguished, Superior, and Meritorious Honor Awards, and the Director of Central Intelligence Award.

His foreign and international decorations include the Canadian Meritorious Service Cross, and French Legion of Honor.

Ambassador Eikenberry is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and senior advisor to the United States Institute of Peace.  He also belongs to the boards of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue in Geneva, The Asia Foundation, Asia Society of Northern California, National Bureau of Asian Research, and National Committee on American Foreign Policy.  He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and American Academy of Diplomacy.

His articles and essays on U.S. and international security issues have appeared in Foreign AffairsThe Washington QuarterlyThe American InterestAmerican Foreign Policy InterestsLawfare, The New York TimesThe Washington PostLawfare, Foreign PolicySurvivalDædalus, The Financial Times, Parameters, and Military Review.