Heather Hurlburt

Heather Hurlburt is the senior fellow for national security at Human Rights First. She served as special assistant and speechwriter to President Bill Clinton, speechwriter and member of the State Department's policy planning staff, and has held senior positions on Capitol Hill and in several DC-based advocacy organizations. She cohosts the monthly Bloggingheads show Drezburt, and has a weekly column at World Policy Review.

Recent Articles

An Easter Foreign-Policy Lesson

(Flickr/WillowGardeners)
There’s nothing like a double-barreled Holy Week/Passover to send media flacks leaping for “hooks” of relevance. Here’s my nominee for Most Dubious Holy Week Tie-in—an article from the august Council on Foreign Relations which documents, the email release promises me, how: [W]hile Obama is by all accounts religious, that faith has not resulted in real foreign policy gains. "Rhetoric is important, but direct action grounds real diplomacy. And on that front, the White House has not kept up with the issue," Preston writes. ‘Cause the first thing you thought when Rick Santorum questioned whether Obama actually was a Christian, and said his theology was “phony,” was, No, Rick, Obama’s faith is an important tool of American foreign-policy efforts to exercise hegemony express American values in the global arena . Of course what’s funny is that, when the author wants Obama to turn from words to deeds, what does he point to as an effective example? A speech by Franklin Roosevelt. A great...

Maryland, My Maryland

(Flickr / Dougtone)
I live with my family in one of the bluest places in the nation—Montgomery County, Maryland. We have some things you might expect—relatively high taxes, some of the best schools in the nation, quite a bit of diversity (we’re nothing on Arlington County, Virginia, with 100-plus nationalities in the schools, but our announcements come home in English, Spanish, French, and Amharic, the local cult-ish house whose inhabitants wear head-to-toe purple). And, as I learned last night, we're a state where the Democratic Party had selected convention delegates on sex-segregated lists since 1984. I thought perhaps my local elementary school-polling place had been transported to Sweden or Rwanda . But no, it turns out that in 1984 the Democratic Party ordered state parties to ensure that each state delegation contained equal numbers of men and women, after permitting them to do that in 1976 (since 1968 the party had been wrestling with how to enfranchise minorities and women without quotas )...

Be Nice to Heather Hurlburt, Ms. Graff's Substitute Teacher

(Flickr/AlborzShawn)
Morning, all. I’m Heather Hurlburt, recovering political speechwriter, national-security wonk, mom, feminist, Gen X-er, executive director of a small-yet-mighty nonprofit, would-be ballet dancer. I’m also the child of two journalists, so writing on deadline is in my blood. Following E.J. Graff, whose writing has done as much as anyone to create and shape the discourses on the politics of women’s sexuality and on marriage equality, is more than a little intimidating. In fact, while I’ve written on geostrategy and politics for almost two decades now, this’ll be my coming-out party for writing on women’s issues for a clicking audience. I’m one of those women who was raised by feminist parents in the 1970s to believe not only that I could do anything, but that I was obliged to try—that I had something to prove for hundreds of years of the women in my family who were serving girls and preachers’ wives and schoolteachers, who found avenues for adventure by working as governesses, emigrating...

Nobody Puts Petraeus in a Corner

Why do Republicans think moving from the military to the president's cabinet is a demotion?

(Flickr/isafmedia)
General David Petraeus, handpicked executor of military "surges" in Iraq for George W. Bush and Afghanistan for Barack Obama, has assumed an outsized place in American public life. Perhaps the only current serving general who is anything close to a household name, Petraeus has the ability to make normally sober observers swoon: GOP bloggers fantasize about a presidential run, and former California Rep. Jane Harman, not usually given to hyperbole, called him "the Eisenhower of his generation or the George Washington of his generation." The Senate is expected to vote today to confirm Petraeus as the new of director of central intelligence. As he prepares to depart Afghanistan to retire from the military and take up the civilian post, Petraeus has been cast -- somewhat against his will -- as the lead opponent in the administration's internal debate of a withdrawal timetable. With it assumed broadly around Washington that the Defense and State departments favor fewer troop removals, and...

Beyond Bin Laden

What does national security look like with the world's most wanted terrorist out of the way?

Coverage of the killing of Osama bin Laden has splintered between kvelling and questions about the "how" -- Burial at sea! What did the Pakistanis know? How 'bout those Navy SEALS! -- and not-so-subtle attempts to seize the moment to advance certain policy positions. Torture worked, says John Yoo. The fight against terrorism continues, says the Council on Foreign Relations. Out of Afghanistan now, says Robert Greenwald. To think systematically about what this event will mean for national security long-term, imagine its effects rippling outward in three concentric circles: from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, where bin Laden's al-Qaeda grew and lured the U.S. in the deepest; from the broader Middle East, where the news is sure to affect relations between the Muslim world and the West; and finally, from home, where bin Laden's death has already begun to change Americans' understanding of who we are and how we act in the world. In Afghanistan and Pakistan Bin Laden's death is not, of...

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