James F. Dobbins

Ambassador James Dobbins is the director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center within the RAND National Security Research Division.

In the wake of September 11, 2001, he was named as the Bush administration’s representative to the Afghan opposition with the task of putting together and installing a broadly based successor to the Taliban regime. He represented the United States at the Bonn Conference that established the new Afghan government, and, on December 16, 2001, he raised the flag over the newly reopened U.S. Embassy.

Previously Dobbins has held a variety of senior State Department and White House posts with responsibility for national security, crisis management, and relations with Europe and Latin America. Until June 2001 the Assistant Secretary of State for Europe, he also served as Special Assistant to the President for the Western Hemisphere, Special Adviser to the President and Secretary of State for the Balkans, Ambassador to the European Community, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Europe, Deputy Chief of the U.S. Mission in Germany, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State.

In recent years he has undertaken crisis management and diplomatic troubleshooting assignments relating to Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo. He also held Senior Fellowships with RAND and with the Council on Foreign Relations, and contributed to books on transatlantic trade and European security.

In the early 1980s Dobbins, then Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, managed the diplomacy attendant on the deployment of medium-range nuclear missiles to Europe. Toward the end of that decade, as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, he supported Secretary Baker’s negotiation of the reunification of Germany.

In 1991, as Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Europe, he advanced the liberation of eastern Europe and helped manage the peaceful demise of the Soviet Union. As Ambassador to the European Community, from 1991-93, he was involved in negotiations on agricultural trade leading to conclusion of the Uruguay Round.

While with the National Security Council Staff from 1996-99, as Special Assistant to the President for Western Hemispheric Affairs, Dobbins helped launch negotiations for a Free Trade Area of the Americas, coordinated hemispheric counternarcotics efforts, and promoted successful peace negotiations between Peru and Ecuador.

In recent years Dobbins has been tapped for a number of sensitive diplomatic missions. In 1993 he managed the diplomacy attendant on the disengagement of American forces from Somalia. In 1994, he helped organize the American led multilateral intervention in Haiti. In 1999, on the eve of the Kosovo conflict, he became the administration’s senior envoy for the Balkans. Through the Kosovo air campaign he worked to keep the NATO coalition together, negotiated the United Nations Security Council resolution that ended the fighting, and oversaw subsequent American peace implementation. He supervised the civil aspects of peace operations in Kosovo and Bosnia, as he earlier had for Haiti and Somalia, managing American relief and reconstruction efforts in the Balkans in excess of $1 billion per annum.

As the Assistant Secretary for Europe, from 2000 to 2001, Dobbins helped mobilize successful international efforts to oust the Milosevic regime and support a democratic successor. He negotiated an agreement with the European Union establishing arrangements for defense collaboration with NATO, and, in partnership with the European Union, launched the current peace process in Macedonia.

Dobbins is a graduate of the Georgetown School of Foreign Service. He spent 3 years as an officer in the U.S. Navy. He is married to Toril Kleivdal, and they have two sons.