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Leslie H. Gelb

President Emeritus and Board Senior Fellow

Expertise

U.S. foreign policy; national security; Russia; Middle East.

Bio

Dr. Leslie H. Gelb is among America's most prominent foreign policy experts. A Pulitzer Prize winner, former correspondent for the New York Times, and senior official in state and defense departments, he is currently president emeritus and board senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). He served as president of the organization from 1993 to 2003.

Prior to his tenure as president of CFR, Dr. Gelb established a distinguished career at the New York Times, where he was a columnist from 1991 to 1993, deputy editorial page editor from 1986 to 1990, and editor of the op-ed page from 1988 to 1990. He was national security correspondent for the Times from 1981 to 1986, where he won the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism in 1986. He was diplomatic correspondent at the Times from 1973 to 1977.

Dr. Gelb was a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace from 1980 to 1981, where he was a consultant to the German Marshall Fund of the U.S. From 1977 to 1979, he was an assistant secretary of state in the Carter administration, serving as director of the Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs, where he received the State Department's highest award: the Distinguished Honor Award. He was a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution from 1969 to 1973, during which time he was also a visiting professor at Georgetown University. He was director of Policy Planning and Arms Control for International Security Affairs at the Department of Defense from 1967 to 1969, where he also served as director of the Pentagon Papers Project. While at the Defense Department, Dr. Gelb won the Pentagon's highest award, the Distinguished Civilian Service Award.

He was executive assistant to U.S. Senator Jacob K. Javits from 1966 to 1967, and an assistant professor at Wesleyan University from 1964 to 1966.

Dr. Gelb currently serves on the Center for National Interest Board of Directors, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America Board of Directors, the Diplomacy Center Foundation Board of Directors, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation Board of Advisors, and the Truman National Security Project Board of Advisors. He is a former trustee for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, trustee emeritus for Tufts University, and the former Chairman of the National Security Network Advisory Board. He formerly served on the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University Dean's Council, the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University Board of Advisors, the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University Board of Overseers, and the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government Advisory Board. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and a fellow at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Dr. Gelb received his BA from Tufts University in 1959 and his MA in 1961 and PhD in 1964 from Harvard University. He is the author of Power Rules: How Common Sense Can Rescue American Foreign Policy (2009) and Anglo-American Relations, 1945–1950: Toward a Theory of Alliances (1988). He is also co-author of The Irony of Vietnam: The System Worked (1980), which won him the American Political Science Association's Woodrow Wilson Award; Our Own Worst Enemy: The Unmaking of American Foreign Policy (1984), and Claiming the Heavens: The New York Times Complete Guide to the Star Wars Debate (1988). He is the recipient of an Emmy Award and an Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Award for his work as a producer of ABC Nightline's Crisis Game.

Dr. Gelb, who resides in New York City, is married to Judith Cohen and is the father of three children. He was the recipient of the Father of the Year Award in 1993.

All Publications

Interview

Gelb: Rumsfeld’s Resignation Should Have Been Accepted a Year Ago

Leslie H. Gelb interviewed by Bernard Gwertzman

Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus of CFR, and a former Pentagon and State Department official in the Johnson and Carter administrations, says the public criticism of Secretary of Defense Donald M. Rumsfeld by some retired senior military officers is due to their unhappiness "that they didn't speak up earlier, speak up while they were on the job."

See more in Iraq; United States; Military Leadership

Must Read

In Defense of Striped Pants

Authors: Morton Ambramowitz and Leslie H. Gelb

Politics requires scapegoats, whether they bear guilt or not. And the media seem less interested in discovering who is responsible than in providing a megaphone for the accusations. But the questions need to be asked. We cannot begin to fix the policy-making process until we see who broke it -- and even then, the damage may be beyond repair.

See more in Iraq; Defense Strategy; United States

CFR Events

General Meeting ⁄ New York

Lessons of Diplomacy: An Event in Memory of Richard C. Holbrooke

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Guest Event ⁄ New York

Reflections on Citizen Revolt in the Middle East

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General Meeting ⁄ New York

U.S. Strategy for Pakistan and Afghanistan: Report of a CFR-Sponsored Independent Task Force

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General Meeting ⁄ New York

Power Rules: How Common Sense Can Rescue Foreign Policy

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General Meeting ⁄ New York

A Conversation with Fouad Ajami

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General Meeting ⁄ New York

Global Security in the 21st Century: The Role of the U.S.

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General Meeting ⁄ New York

Illegal Trade: The Consequences for the Global Economy

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General Meeting ⁄ Washington

Iraq: The Way Forward: Session 1

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General Meeting

Ten Days in Iraq: A Trip Report

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General Meeting

A Debate: The Future of Iraq

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General Meeting

Paul C. Warnke Lecture in International Security

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General Meeting

Conversation with Stephen Hadley

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General Meeting

Iraq: The War Debate

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General Meeting

Conflict Prevention: What Works, What Doesn't, and Why?

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General Meeting

Center for Preventive Action Special Event

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General Meeting

Launch of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies

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General Meeting

The World After September 11th

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General Meeting

Getting Saddam: A Debate

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General Meeting

The Bush Administration's Response to Terrorism

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General Meeting

After the Attacks: Hart-Rudman Revisited, U.S. Commission on National Security in the 21st Century

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General Meeting

Foreign Policy for the Global Age

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General Meeting

Humanitarian Interventions: When Are They Justified?

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General Meeting

If Taiwan Declares Independence and China Reacts with Force, on Whom Should the United States Lean Harder, China or Taiwan?

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General Meeting

Kosovo and Building a Lasting Peace in Southeastern Europe?

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General Meeting

Overview of Middle East Policy

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General Meeting

Crisis of Global Capitalism: Open Society Endangered—A New Book by George Soros

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General Meeting

The Future of the U.S. Defense Industry

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General Meeting

Sanctions Against Rogue States: Do They Work?

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General Meeting

Can the Middle East Peace Process Be Saved?

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General Meeting

U.S. Policy Toward Cuba: Is It Time for a Change?

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General Meeting

Mock National Security Council Meeting on the U.S.-China Summit

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General Meeting

Fast Track to Where? The Future of Free Trade

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General Meeting

Implications of a Global Economy: A Conversation between George Soros and Paul Krugman

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General Meeting

Expanding NATO: Will It Weaken the Alliance?

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General Meeting

The United Nations: What's in It for the United States?

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General Meeting

U.S. Defense Priorities

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Press/Panels

Video Interview

Les Gelb on Iran-U.S.-Israel War Dance

The U.S. and Iran are engaged in a "mutual game" to forestall any attack by Israel on Iran's nuclear installations, but at some point that game will begin to wear down, raising the prospect of military action, Leslie Gelb, President Emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, tells WSJ's John Bussey an interview Tuesday.

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Testimony

Senator Webb Calls for Clarity in U.S. Response to Syrian Crisis

Senator Webb urged his colleagues to heed the recent words of Leslie Gelb of the Council on Foreign Relations: "When interventionists become avenging angels, they blind themselves and the nation and run dangerously amok. They plunge in with no plans, with half-baked plans, with demands to supply arms to rebels they know nothing about, with ideas for no-fly zones and bombing. Their good intentions could pave the road to hell for Syrians. Preserving lives today, but sacrificing many more later."

Article

The Future of Hamas

The Atlantic recently asked a group of foreign-policy authorities about what lies ahead for Hamas.