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STANFORD -- Coit D. Blacker, deputy director of the Institute for International Studies at Stanford University, has been named special assistant to the president for national security affairs and senior director of the Office of Russian, Ukrainian and Eurasian Affairs, the White House announced Tuesday, Jan. 17.
Blacker said that he is "delighted at the opportunity to serve in this official capacity" and that “it could not be a more exciting - albeit challenging - time to step into that particular role."
He succeeds Nicholas Burns, who has been named State Department spokesman and principal deputy assistant secretary of state for public affairs.
To take the position, Blacker was granted a two-year leave of absence by Provost Condoleezza Rice, who held the same position at the National Security Council during the Bush administration.
Walter Falcon, director of the Institute for International Studies (IIS), praised President Clinton's "foresight in making such an inspired appointment."
"The appointment redounds not only to Blacker's honor but to the university's and the institute's as well," Falcon said. "We will miss his leadership in several significant IIS programs that he designed and launched."
In addition to his responsibilities at IIS, where he directs research on international political economy, Blacker co-chairs, with history Professor Barton Bernstein, the undergraduate major in International Relations and the master's program in International Policy Studies.
Just days before the announcement, Blacker returned from Moscow, where he was part of a delegation from Stanford's Center for International Security and Arms Control that met with Russian scholars and military officers for off-the-record discussions of current developments in U.S.-Russian security relations.
Blacker expressed some regret at leaving Stanford and the Institute for International Studies even temporarily. Formed to bring faculty and students from different schools and departments together to research practical solutions to international problems, IIS aims to influence strategic decision-making by encouraging the interaction of individuals from business, government and academia.
Blacker is the third IIS senior fellow in recent years to assume a top government post. Defense Secretary William Perry and Rice also were recruited from the institute's Center for International Security and Arms Control.
Blacker is a graduate of Occidental College and holds an A.M., M.A.L.D. and Ph.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He has been a research fellow at the Center for International Security and Arms Control at Stanford; the Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University; and the Council on Foreign Relations.
From 1988 to 1991, he was associate professor of international relations and director of the Peace and Conflict Studies Program at the University of Southern California. He returned to Stanford in 1991 as director of studies at the Center for International Security and Arms Control, and he was appointed deputy director of the Institute for International Studies in January 1994.
An associate professor, by courtesy, in the Department of Political Science, Blacker co-teaches the course "International Security in a Changing World" with Professor David Holloway. Blacker is the author of six books and monographs, including Hostage to Revolution: Gorbachev and Soviet Security Policy, 1985-91 (Council on Foreign Relations Press, 1993).
Particularly difficult to leave behind at Stanford, Blacker said, is the Sovereignty and Governance Project, which he just started with political science Professor Stephen Krasner.
The project gives faculty from a variety of disciplines a forum in which to explore a broad range of issues related to sovereignty, statehood and the international system.
Given that sovereignty as a political system is based on exclusive control over defined territory, faculty participants explore the challenges to this control: the rise of supranational political and economic entities such as the European Union, transnational religious and social movements, and the influence of powerful non-state actors such as multinational corporations and organized crime syndicates.
Currently centered around an ongoing faculty seminar, the project will narrow in scope and focus and eventually generate policy papers as the outcome of collaborative research.
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