John McLaughlin


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Keynote Speaker

John McLaughlin

Professor, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, Deputy Director of the CIA (2000-2004), and Acting Director of the CIA (2004)

A distinguished leader who’s served as Acting Director and Deputy Director of the CIA and as a U.S. Army officer, John McLaughlin assesses today’s most challenging international problems and provides strategies for tackling them.

John McLaughlin Profile Photo


John McLaughlin teaches courses on American Intelligence and Foreign Policy and coaches on leadership at The School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University. A former CIA leader, he served there for 32 years, capping his career leading the Agency as its Deputy Director and Acting Director from 2000 to 2004. During his career, McLaughlin helped guide the Agency’s global mission, ranging from analysis to covert operations. He served seven U.S. Presidents and personally briefed four of the last six on the full range of global affairs. Along the way, he dealt with the nation’s most pivotal events — from the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the emergence of an independent Russia, the battle against terrorism before and after the 9/11 attacks, and the proliferation of nuclear and other unconventional weapons. The government continues to draw on his expertise for advice on issues ranging from leadership to homeland security and recommendations aimed at improving counter-terrorism.

McLaughlin contributes to the public debate of pressing issues through his role as National Security Analyst for MSNBC, his foreign affairs column for OZY, congressional testimony, and contributions to publications such as The Washington Post, The New York Times, and POLITICO. 

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John McLaughlin
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John McLaughlin’s Speech Topics

  • Geopolitical Hotspots: A Shifting Strategic Landscape and What it Means for the United States

    For the first time in modern American history, we are forced to operate without a guiding strategic concept such as the Cold War’s “Contain the Soviets.”  This at a time when American power is challenged and the number of issues before us is at an all-time high. This is a discussion of what it takes for the United States to maneuver and thrive — economically, politically, militarily — in this new world.

  • Russian Operations Against the United States

    From the time of the 1917 Revolution, Russia has struggled to find its place in the world. Its relationship with the United States has gone from pariah to ally to enemy to competitor. Currently relations are at another historic low. What’s behind this, what do we want from Russia, and what is the way forward?

  • Intelligence in a World of Chaos

    Intelligence has never been more important to the United States. While it was critical in the Cold War, the bipolar nature of that conflict made the targets clearer and more straightforward. Looking at the history of intelligence operations in the United States, we are now in fourth phase of its evolution, with the changes brought about at the CIA following the 9/11 attacks opening the latest and most challenging chapter. In presentations to audiences, former CIA Acting Director John McLaughlin takes a look here at the challenges ahead and how they will affect American interests in this century.

  • The Middle East in Revolution

    At least six simultaneous conflicts are underway in the Middle East, all touching US interests: Persians versus Arabs, Palestinians versus Israelis, terrorists versus regimes, terrorists versus terrorists, Sunni versus Shia, and modernizers versus traditionalists. The forces unleashed by the 2010 Arab Spring simmer just beneath the surface. In this discussion, John McLaughlin walks audiences through what the region holds in the next year and how the United States should deal with it.

  • The Asian Century Is Upon Us

    China, Japan, Korea, and the United States are the four pillars of Asian power. In this presentation, John McLaughlin explains how each is changing and competing with the others and how this will affect American interests going forward.

  • Leadership in Calm and in Crises

    In this presentation, John McLaughlin shares the tenets of effective leadership learned while at the helm of the world’s preeminent intelligence agency, including what qualities inspire and attract followers, what styles of leadership work most effectively, and how all this comes to play in crises.


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