SPEAKER - Oct. 14, 2021 - One of the longest-serving and most effective national security experts of his generation, Brett McGurk served as a top national security advisor under Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump. He has been deeply involved in Middle East military strategy, diplomacy and U.S. policy, and is a distinguished lecturer at Stanford University.
McGurk shares his insider’s perspective on the current state of world affairs, the personalities who shape today’s headlines and their impact on industries such as energy, global financial markets and the U.S. economy. He provides insight on how to overcome deadlocks, make decisions under fire, and use negotiations for a successful conclusion – all skills that transcend from public to private and business sectors.
His experiences have led him to some of the world’s most volatile regions. 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, spearheading secret negotiations with Iran that led to the release of six American citizens from the notorious Evin prison. McGurk led sensitive negotiations with Russia on the Syria crisis and shuttled between global capitals to build coalitions and narrow differences between friends and adversaries.
As Special Presidential Envoy leading the Campaign to Defeat ISIS, McGurk helped build the coalition of 75 countries and four international organizations—the largest coalition in history—to confront ISIS. He led the campaign under Presidents Obama and Trump before resigning his position in December 2018 following Trump’s order to withdraw all U.S. forces from Syria.
President Bush described McGurk as part of a “band of brothers” inside the White House at a critical phase of the Iraq war. President Obama called him one of his “closest advisors” on the Middle East. Condoleezza Rice referred to him as the “consummate professional diplomat.” The New York Times cited him as “a doer” in high-stakes negotiations. He is a senior foreign affairs analyst with NBC News/MSNBC. McGurk is currently authoring a book entitled Three Presidents, Three Wars for publication by Crown in 2021.