Richard Fontaine

  • President

Richard Fontaine is the President of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). He served as a Senior Advisor and Senior Fellow at CNAS from 2009-2012 and previously as foreign policy advisor to Senator John McCain for more than five years.  He has also worked at the State Department, the National Security Council and on the staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Mr. Fontaine served as foreign policy advisor to the McCain 2008 presidential campaign and, following the election, as the minority deputy staff director on the Senate Armed Services Committee.  Prior to this, he served as associate director for Near Eastern affairs at the National Security Council (NSC) from 2003-04.  He also worked in the NSC’s Asian Affairs directorate, where he covered Southeast Asian issues.

During his time at the State Department, Mr. Fontaine worked in the office of former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and in the department’s South Asia bureau, working on issues related to India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Mr. Fontaine began his foreign policy career as a staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, focusing on the Middle East and South Asia.  He also spent a year teaching English in Japan.

A native of New Orleans, Mr. Fontaine graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in International Relations from Tulane University.  He also holds a M.A. in International Affairs from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, and he attended Oxford University.  He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and has been an adjunct professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.  He also served as the chairman of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the United States.  

Mr. Fontaine lives in Falls Church, Va., with his wife and four children.

  • February 25, 2016
  • Michele Flournoy, Richard Fontaine
  • Commentaries

CNAS Commentary: A Bipartisan National Security Agenda for an Election Year

CNAS CEO Michèle Flournoy and CNAS President Richard Fontaine have written a new commentary laying out issues the Obama administration and Congress can address before the next president is sworn in.

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  • December 16, 2015
  • Patrick M. Cronin, Van Jackson, Elbridge Colby, Richard Fontaine, David Eunpyoung Jee, Hannah Suh
  • Reports

Solving Long Division: The Geopolitical Implications of Korean Unification

Eight CNAS experts examine a host of issues posed by unification – including nuclear weapons and deterrence, the U.S.-Korea alliance, and relations between the countries in Northeast Asia – and offers key findings to inform how policymakers should prepare for unification on the Korean Peninsula.

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  • September 16, 2015
  • Michele Flournoy, Richard Fontaine
  • Commentaries

After the Deal, Strengthen Our Iran Policy

CNAS CEO Michèle Flournoy and President Richard Fontaine write a commentary recommending next steps for the administration after the Iran deal.

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  • August 6, 2015
  • Michele Flournoy, Richard Fontaine
  • Policy Briefs

An Intensified Approach to Combatting the Islamic State

CNAS CEO Michèle Flournoy and President Richard Fontaine have authored a new policy brief arguing that “current efforts to counter ISIS are not adequate to the task” and that American efforts thus far “convey a sense of creeping incrementalism.

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  • September 18, 2014
  • Richard Fontaine
  • Policy Briefs

Seizing the Modi Moment: Reenergizing U.S.-India Ties on the Eve of the Prime Minister’s Visit

CNAS President Richard Fontaine offers an agenda of deepened strategic ties between the United States and India in anticipation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United States in late September.

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  • September 17, 2014
  • Richard Fontaine
  • Policy Briefs

Bringing Liberty Online: Reenergizing the Internet Freedom Agenda in a Post-Snowden Era

CNAS President Richard Fontaine argues that, despite the many complications arising from the Snowden disclosures, America still needs a comprehensive Internet freedom strategy.

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  • November 13, 2013
  • Richard Fontaine, David W. Barno, USA (Ret.), Patrick M. Cronin, Phillip Carter, Nora Bensahel, Richard Williamson, Gordon Miller, Katherine Kidder
  • Commentaries

CNAS Commentaries: The Way Forward in Syria

CNAS Commentaries: The Way Forward in Syria

Nine experts at the Center for a New American Security offer analysis and commentary on the range of issues relating to the U.S. response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Asad regime in Syria.

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  • November 13, 2013
  • Richard Fontaine
  • Commentaries

The President Is Right to Intervene, But Then What?

Richard-Fontaine-CNAS-Syria

President Obama is right to take action in response to the Asad regime’s chemical attack on Syrian civilians. Yet in the absence of a strategy that aims at ending the broader humanitarian catastrophe in Syria, the impending attacks will raise as many questions as they answer.

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  • June 10, 2013
  • Ely Ratner, Patrick M. Cronin, Richard Fontaine, Zachary Hosford
  • Reports

The Emerging Asia Power Web: The Rise of Bilateral Intra-Asian Security Ties

The Emerging Asia Power Web

The Asia team at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) explores the “Asia Power Web," a term the team developed to describe the growing trend of intra-Asian defense and security cooperation among six key countries – Australia, India, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Vietnam. 

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  • November 27, 2012
  • Daniel Kliman, Richard Fontaine
  • Reports

Global Swing States: Brazil, India, Indonesia, Turkey and the Future of International Order

Daniel M. Kliman of the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) and CNAS President Richard Fontaine urge U.S. leaders to pursue closer partnerships with BRazil, India, Indonesia and Turkey.

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  • November 25, 2013
  • Richard Fontaine, Robert D. Kaplan
  • Events

Foreign Policy Challenges in Obama's Second Term

  • February 13, 2013
  • Richard Fontaine
  • Events

Global Internet Freedom After Dubai: An event with the U.S. Senate Global Internet Freedom Caucus

On February 12, CNAS hosted an event with the U.S. Senate Global Internet Freedom Caucus to explore the major issues affecting Internet governance in 2013, including the outcome of the recent World Conference on International Telecommunications in Dubai and the increasing divisiveness over the role of governments in regulating the Internet.

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  • April 18, 2012
  • Nathaniel C. Fick, Richard Fontaine
  • Events

CNAS 2012 Annual Conference

The Center for a New American Security's 2012 annual conference, "Rethinking U.S. Security: Navigating a World in Transition," took place in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, June 13, 2012.

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  • October 14, 2010
  • Richard L. Armitage, Richard Fontaine
  • Events

Natural Allies: A Blueprint for the Future of U.S.-India Relations

On October 20, 2010, the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) will host an event at the Newseum to launch a new report on the future of U.S.-India relations. The event will feature a roundtable discussion on the path forward for this critical relationship, featuring former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Professor R. Nicholas Burns, CNAS Senior Fellow Richard Fontaine, and other outside experts.

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  • May 23, 2016
  • Richard Fontaine
  • In the News

With terrorism concerns again in mind, President Obama embarks on week-long trip to Vietnam, Japan

In the Washington Post, President Richard Fontaine identifies the strategic importance of lifting the U.S. arms sales ban in Vietnam. 

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  • May 23, 2016
  • Richard Fontaine
  • In the News

U.S., Vietnam: Once enemies in war, now partners in trade

President Richard Fontaine examines the withdrawl from discussing the Vietnam War on both U.S. and Vietnam sides after the new trade agreement in USA Today. 

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  • May 23, 2016
  • Richard Fontaine
  • In the News

Obama confronts past wars with new way forward

President Richard Fontaine dicusses the progress made between Vietnam and the United States' relations in CNN.

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  • May 12, 2016
  • Richard Fontaine
  • In the News

Obama weighs lifting Vietnam arms embargo

President Richard Fontaine explains the strategic importance of lifting the Vietnam arms embargo from AFP

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  • April 13, 2016
  • Richard Fontaine
  • In the News

Obama cements drone-centric counterterrorism legacy with Central Command pick

In the Washington Times, CNAS President Richard Fontaine discusses the Obama administration's counterterrorism approach.

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  • February 11, 2016
  • Richard Fontaine
  • In the News

The Future of US Foreign Policy: American Leadership In Asia

On The Diplomat, CNAS President Richard Fontaine provides his insight on the U.S. rebalance to Asia.

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  • February 4, 2016
  • Richard Fontaine
  • In the News

Will Trump flunk the commander-in-chief test?

In POLITICO, CNAS President Richard Fontaine weighs in on presidential candidate Donald Trump's involvement in the election.

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  • December 17, 2015
  • Richard Fontaine
  • In the News

For Republican Candidates, a Fight to Define Party's Foreign Policy

President Richard Fontaine discusses the Republican debate surrounding international engagement in AP.

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  • December 8, 2015
  • Richard Fontaine
  • In the News

Recent terrorist attacks push Obama to reassess, and defend, his strategy

President Richard Fontaine examines the rate of U.S. involvement in Syria in The Washington Post.

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  • November 18, 2015
  • Richard Fontaine
  • In the News

Obama's Right About Syrian Refugees

President Richard Fontaine is mentioned in regards to his op-ed on Syrian refugees in The Huffington Post.

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  • May 23, 2016
  • Richard Fontaine
  • Op-eds

Vietnam: From enemy to partner

President Richard Fontaine discusses U.S. relations with Vietnam in an op-ed at CNN.

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  • April 19, 2016
  • Richard Fontaine, Mira Rapp-Hooper
  • Op-eds

How China Sees World Order

In The National Interest, CNAS experts Richard Fontaine and Dr. Mira Rapp-Hooper co-author an op-ed discussing U.S.-China relations.

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  • March 25, 2016
  • Richard Fontaine
  • Op-eds

China Looms Large in Australia's New Strategy

In The National Interest, CNAS President Richard Fontaine examines Australia's new approach to defense strategy in the Indo-Pacific.

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  • February 17, 2016
  • Richard Fontaine
  • Op-eds

Doom and Gloom: Five Key Takeaways from the Munich Security Conference

On War on the Rocks, CNAS President Fontaine points to five key takeaways from this year's Munich Security Conference.

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  • February 4, 2016
  • Richard Fontaine
  • Op-eds

Obama’s ‘Slippery Slope’ Delusion

In a POLTICO op-ed, CNAS President Richard Fontaine weighs in on President Obama's comments on combatting ISIS during his final State of the Union address.

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  • February 4, 2016
  • Richard Fontaine
  • Op-eds

The U.S. Can Thaw India-Pakistan Relations

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, CNAS President Richard Fontaine weighs in on India-Pakistan Relations and military escalation.

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  • January 19, 2016
  • Richard Fontaine
  • Op-eds

Refugees Need New Places to Live—and Jobs When They Get There

Following a trip to the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, CNAS President Richard Fontaine provides his perspective on the camp and U.S. efforts.

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  • January 15, 2016
  • Richard Fontaine
  • Op-eds

The U.S. Can Thaw India-Pakistan Relations

In the Wall Street Journal, President Richard Fontaine explores how India and Pakistan can calm opposition between the countries.

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  • December 1, 2015
  • Richard Fontaine
  • Op-eds

Shaping U.S. Policy on Islamic State Amid Shifting Politics

President Richard Fontaine penned an op-ed examining how the public perception of the Islamic State will affect US policy in The Wall Street Journal.

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  • November 16, 2015
  • Richard Fontaine
  • Op-eds

Why Closing Borders to Syrian Refugees Won't Stem Terrorist Threats

President Richard Fontaine wrote an op-ed discussing the effectiveness of closing borders in response to the Syrian refugee crisis in The Wall Street Journal.

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  • June 24, 2011
  • Richard Fontaine
  • Congressional Testimony

Preserving Progress: Transitioning Authority And Implementing The Strategic Framework Agreement

Fontaine Testimony

Senior Advisor and Senior Fellow Richard Fontaine testified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcomittee on the Middle East and South Asia on June 23, 2011.  Fontaine testifed to the importance of the Unites States' strategic interests in Iraq.  The testimony included points on the stability of the future of Iraq and how that will impact U.S. strategic interests in the Middle East.

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  • June 29, 2010
  • Richard Fontaine
  • Congressional Testimony

Contracting in Combat Zones: Who Are Our Subcontractors?

Contracting in Combat Zones: Who Are Our Subcontractors?

CNAS Senior Fellow Richard Fontaine testified on the problems associated with contracting in conflicts and areas for reform before the U.S. Congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

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  • May 24, 2016
  • Richard Fontaine
  • Videos

Video: Obama Lifts Embargo on Vietnam

President Richard Fontaine discusses the recent lift of the U.S. arms sales ban in Vietnam at NBC Nightly News. 

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  • April 28, 2016
  • Richard Fontaine
  • Audio

Expert Doubts Trump's Pledge Of A More Consistent Foreign Policy

On NPR Morning Edition, CNAS President Richard Fontaine discusses GOP front-runner Donald Trump's first formal foreign policy speech.

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  • March 17, 2016
  • Richard Fontaine
  • Videos

US caught off guard by Russia's military drawdown in Syria

CNAS President Richard Fontaine joined FOX Special Report to discusses political negotiations on the shape of Syria.

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  • July 8, 2015
  • Julianne Smith, Richard Fontaine
  • Videos

Video: CNAS 2015 Annual Conference - 2017 and Beyond

Senior Advisor to the Clinton Campaign and Visiting Professor at Yale Law School, Jake Sullivan, Professor at Harvard University Meghan O'Sullivan, President Richard Fontaine and Senior Fellow Julianne Smith discuss national security challenges facing the next administration in 2017. 

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  • June 8, 2015
  • Richard Fontaine
  • Audio

Obama: U.S. Lacks A 'Complete Strategy' For Training Iraqi Forces

President Richard Fontaine joined NPR to discuss ISIS and the G7 Summit.

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  • November 21, 2014
  • Richard Fontaine
  • Audio

BYU Radio: The Morning Show

President Richard Fontaine joins BYU Radio to discuss India's new political landscape after 500 million voters going the polls in India.

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  • October 30, 2014
  • Richard Fontaine
  • Videos

Video: President Richard Fontaine on India’s Global Future

richard-fontaine-on-indias-global-future

President Richard Fontaine discusses India's Global Future at the Brigham Young University's Kennedy Center for International Studies.

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  • September 30, 2014
  • Richard Fontaine
  • Videos

Interview: "Does America Have the Right Strategy to Take on ISIS?"

The National Interest speaks with President Richard Fontaine on the ISIS challenge, America's "pivot" to Asia, sequestration, U.S. foreign policy and more. 

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  • June 16, 2014
  • Richard Fontaine
  • Videos

Video: Eighth Annual Conference: Closing Remarks

CNAS President Richard Fontaine delivers closing remarks at the Eighth Annual National Security Conference.

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  • April 25, 2014
  • Patrick M. Cronin, Richard Fontaine
  • Videos

Video: Evolving Maritime Security in the Asia-Pacific Region

evolving-maritime-security-risks-cnas-google-hangout

CNAS released a report analyzing competition and risk in #MaritimeAsia. On March 24, security experts from around the world convened via Google Hangout On Air (HOA) to discuss the report's key findings and security risks in the region.

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