Eliot A. Cohen

Eliot A. Cohen, PhD

Robert E. Osgood Professor of Strategic Studies
Strategic Studies

Rome 708


  • Strategic and Security Issues
  • International Relations

Background and Education

Eliot Cohen is Robert E. Osgood Professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). He directs the strategic studies program and the Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies, which he founded. He has twice won the Johns Hopkins SAIS Excellence in Teaching Award. For ten years he led a Johns Hopkins SAIS partnership with the Maxwell School of Syracuse University in providing executive education to general officers and senior Defense Department officials, the National Security Studies program.

A 1977 graduate of Harvard College he received his PhD there in political science in 1982. From 1982 to 1985 he was Assistant Professor of Government at Harvard, and Assistant Dean of Harvard College. In 1985 he became a member of the Strategy Department of the United States Naval War College. In February 1990 he joined the Policy Planning Staff of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and in July of that year he was appointed professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins SAIS.

From April 2007 through January 2009 he served as Counselor of the Department of State. A principal officer of the Department, he had special responsibility for advising the Secretary on matters pertaining to Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and Russia, as well as general strategic issues. He represented the Department of State in interagency coordination with senior National Security Council staff, Department of Defense, and intelligence community officials on a number of issues, including the Syrian/North Korean reactor crisis of 2007, and the Somali piracy problem in 2008.

Eliot Cohen is the author of Conquered into Liberty: Two Centuries of Battles along the Great Warpath that made the American Way of War (2011), winner of the Society of Colonial Wars annual book award, and the Huntington prize-winning Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership in Wartime (2002). His other books are Commandos and Politicians (1978) and Citizens and Soldiers (1985). He is, as well, co-author of Military Misfortunes: The Anatomy of Failure in War (1990), Revolution in Warfare? Air Power in the Persian Gulf (1995), and Knives, Tanks, and Missiles: Israel’s Security Revolution (1998), and co-editor of Strategy in the Contemporary World (2002) and War over Kosovo (2001). In 1991-1993 he directed and edited the official study of air power in the 1991 war with Iraq. For his leadership of The Gulf War Air Power Survey, which included eleven book-length reports, he received the Air Force’s decoration for exceptional civilian service. His articles have appeared in numerous scholarly and popular journals, and he is, as well, the author of several widely used case studies for senior military and executive education.

In 1982 he was commissioned in the United States Army Reserve. His service included several years as Military Assistant to the Director of Net Assessment, Office of the Secretary of Defense. He has also served as adjunct professor at the United States Army War College, where he advised the Advanced Strategic Art Program, and was a member of the Defense Policy Advisory Board and the National Security Advisory Panel of the National Intelligence Council. He is currently a member of the Council of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and of the Committee on Studies of the Council on Foreign Relations. He was a special adviser on foreign and defense policy to the Presidential campaign of Governor Mitt Romney.

2015-02-23 00:00:00 
Spring 2013 
This mini serie...
This mini series of four seminars will review four plays by Shakespeare on the themes of war and politics: Macbeth, Coriolanus, Julius Caesar, and Richard II. We will discover how Shakespeare portrays the nature and consequences of the lust for power; the tension between personal honor and soldierly discipline; the ways in which high office deludes those who hold it; the nature of conspiracy. The seminars will be held in Bologna on Thursday, November 21, November 28, December 5, and December 12.