About the Expert

Expert Bio

Philip H. Gordon is the Mary and David Boies senior fellow in U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. He was special assistant to the president and White House coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa, and the Gulf Region from 2013 to 2015. As the most senior White House official focused on the greater Middle East, he worked closely with the president, secretary of state, and national security advisor on issues including the Iranian nuclear program, Middle East peace negotiations, the conflict in Syria, security in Iraq, U.S. relations with the gulf states, the democratic transitions in North Africa, and bilateral relations with Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Lebanon. He chaired numerous interagency processes, regularly engaged foreign leaders, and directed a staff of some twenty directors and other national security specialists. 

From 2009 to 2013, Gordon served as assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. As head of the department’s largest bureau, he managed a Washington, DC-based staff of nearly four hundred, an overseas staff of more than seven thousand, and oversaw a budget of over $1 billion. Gordon was responsible for fifty countries in Europe and Eurasia as well as for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the European Union (EU), and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Working closely with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, his priorities for the region included cooperation with Europe on global issues; promoting U.S. commercial and business interests; extending stability, prosperity and democracy to eastern Europe, the Balkans, and the Caucasus; and developing bilateral cooperation with Russia and with Turkey.

From 2000 to 2008 Gordon was a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC. In 2004 he became the founding director of the Center on the United States and Europe, which undertook research and ran programs focused on expanding global cooperation between the United States and its transatlantic partners. In 2006, Gordon became senior fellow in U.S. foreign policy at Brookings and focused his research on U.S. foreign policy, particularly toward Europe and the greater Middle East.

From 1998 to 1999 Gordon served as director for European affairs at the National Security Council under President Bill Clinton. He was responsible for NATO, the EU, the OSCE, France, Turkey, Greece, and Cyprus. From 1994 to 1998 he was a senior fellow and editor of the quarterly journal Survival at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. He has also held research and teaching positions at INSEAD, the global graduate business school in Fontainebleau, France; the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik in Bonn, Germany; the Institut d’Études Politiques in Paris, France; Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, D.C.; and RAND, in Santa Monica, California. 

Gordon received his PhD in international relations and international economics from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in 1991; he also has an MA from SAIS (1987) and a BA from Ohio University (1984). Gordon is the author of a number of books and monographs on international relations and foreign policy, including Losing the Long Game: The False Promise of Regime Change in the Middle East, which was published in October 2020

He writes regularly for newspapers including the New York Times, Washington Post, and Financial Times, as well as for journals and magazines such as Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Politico, and War on the Rocks. Gordon is proficient in French, Italian, and German, and has also studied Spanish and Arabic.


  • Albright Stonebridge Group, senior adviser
  • Gerson Lehrman Group, council member
  • National Security Action, advisory council member

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