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Nicholas Burns

Former U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs

Speaker Bio

Despite a host of challenges and pessimism about the state of global politics and economic forces, the global economy is in good shape, and we’re living in a time that has seen the greatest alleviation of poverty in the past 30 years, according to Nicholas Burns. Diseases like polio are close to being eradicated, and the promise of the digital age is delivering—with artificial intelligence and human genome breakthroughs making lives better. Geopolitically, the world has avoided military conflict on the level of the world wars of the twentieth century. Mr. Burns discusses major trends challenging global peace and stability, among them a weakening U.S. leadership role, the U.S.-China competition for power in the Indo-Pacific, and the North Korea nuclear crisis. He also examines prospects for stability in the Middle East and Europe, along with the deepening political crisis in the United States and its impact on foreign policy.

A career foreign service officer for 27 years, Mr. Burns has played a leading role in shaping U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East, Asia, Russia, and Ukraine. He is currently a professor at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

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