Distinguished Voice: Brett McGurk

Wednesday, November 18, 2020
6:00 PM - 6:30 PM
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Special Events
Lauren Giliberto
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One of the longest-serving and most effective national security experts of his generation, Brett McGurk served as a top advisor on critical diplomatic and military strategies under Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump.

Deeply involved in Middle East strategy and diplomacy, McGurk helped design and then led the successful campaign to defeat ISIS together with a coalition of 75 countries. McGurk has led negotiations with hostile states, including Iran and Russia, as well as allies in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Serving as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Iraq and Afghanistan under President Bush, McGurk helped develop “The Surge,” a fundamental and successful shift in Iraq war strategy.

Under President Obama, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran and spearheaded 14 months of secret talks with Iran that led to a prisoner swap and release of six Americans—prompting the New York Times to cite him as “a doer” in high-stakes negotiations.

He also helped build the largest international coalition in history to confront ISIS and led the campaign under both Obama and Trump before resigning his position in December 2018 following Trump’s order to withdraw all U.S. forces from Syria.

While lauded throughout his distinguished career, awards of note include the Distinguished Honor Award (2009) and the Distinguished Service Award (2016), the highest any Secretary of State can bestow someone in McGurk’s diplomatic capacity.

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