Unlock the power of insight and foresight with Hal Brands, one of the foremost authorities on foreign policy and world affairs. With his exceptional expertise, Hal illuminates the complexities of our ever-changing global landscape, empowering audiences to navigate the world's most pressing challenges with confidence.

Hal Brands

Hal Brands is the Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor of Global Affairs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He is also a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion. He is the author or editor of several books, including, most recently, The Twilight Struggle: What the Cold War Teaches Us About Great-Power Rivalry, Danger Zone: The Coming Conflict with China, co-authored with Michael Beckley, and The New Makers of Modern Strategy: From the Ancient World to the Digital Age.

Hal has served as Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Strategic Planning and lead writer for the Commission on the National Defense Strategy for the United States. He is a member of the State Department's Foreign Affairs Policy Board and consults with a range of government offices and agencies in the intelligence and national security communities. His writings have appeared in Foreign Affairs, The Atlantic, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and other outlets; he has lectured on foreign policy and global affairs to audiences in government, academia, and the private sector in dozens of countries on multiple continents. In 2023, he was named one of Washington's most influential people by Washingtonian magazine.

Speech topics

A Conversation: How Current Global Affairs Affect Your Organization

Hal Brands is available for special, personalized engagements in a conversation/panel format that address ongoing global trends/events, covering a range of topics, including:

Danger Zone: The Coming Conflict with China

We often hear that the US-China competition is a "superpower marathon" destined to last a century. But the most dangerous period in that rivalry will come in the second half of the 2020s. This is because China is not so much a rising power but a peaking power--a country whose military capabilities have grown quite formidable, but that faces profound, and worsening, economic and strategic challenges. Historically, peaking powers have been the most dangerous actors in international affairs--they have brought on some of the most devastating wars of the last 100 years. China increasingly fits this profile today. To avoid a catastrophic war that could derail the global economy, the United States will need a strategy for navigating the danger zone that lies ahead.  

The Twilight Struggle: What the Cold War Teaches Us About Great-Power Rivalry Today

It is often said that the United States faces a "new Cold War" against China and Russia, authoritarian powers that are trying to reshape the world in their image. That makes it imperative to understand what lessons the original Cold War holds for global affairs today. This lecture explains what is the same and what is different between the Cold War and today's competitions, and what insights policymakers can draw from the past in seeking to address the challenges of the present and future.

Global Risk in the 2020s and Beyond

The post-Cold War era is over, and a tumultuous new period has begun. Countries and firms face an international environment that features a rising danger of great-power conflict, revolutionary advances in technology, deepening disruptions to a globalized economy, and intensifying challenges from transnational issues such as climate change and food insecurity. These issues interact and exacerbate each other: Geopolitical tensions complicate global cooperation on climate change, for example, while creating greater inflationary pressures for countries around the world. This talk provides a risk map for the coming decade and beyond, examining key sources of disruption in the emerging geopolitical environment and offering principles for addressing them.

More Video


The Twilight Struggle: What the Cold War Teaches Us about Great-Power Rivalry Today

A leading historian’s guide to great-power competition, as told through America’s successes and failures in the Cold War

Danger Zone: The Coming Conflict with China

It has become conventional wisdom that America and China are running a “superpower marathon” that may last a century. Yet Hal Brands and Michael Beckley pose a counterintuitive question: What if the sharpest phase of that competition is more like a decade-long sprint?

The Lessons of Tragedy: Statecraft and World Order

A “brilliant” examination of American complacency and how it puts the nation’s—and the world’s—security at risk (The Wall Street Journal).

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