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Subscribe to Frederick Kempe’s weekly Inflection Points column, which focuses on the global challenges facing the United States and how to best address them.

About Frederick Kempe

Fred Kempe is the president and chief executive officer of the Atlantic Council. Under his leadership since 2007, the Council has achieved historic, industry-leading growth in size and influence, expanding its work through regional centers spanning the globe and through centers focused on topics ranging from international security and energy to global trade and next generation mentorship. Before joining the Council, Kempe was a prize-winning editor and reporter at the Wall Street Journal for more than twenty-five years. In New York, he served as assistant managing editor, International, and columnist. Prior to that, he was the longest-serving editor and associate publisher ever of the Wall Street Journal Europe, running the global Wall Street Journal’s editorial operations in Europe and the Middle East.

In 2002, The European Voice, a leading publication following EU affairs, selected Kempe as one of the fifty most influential Europeans, and as one of the four leading journalists in Europe. At the Wall Street Journal, he served as a roving correspondent based out of London; as a Vienna Bureau chief covering Eastern Europe and East-West Affairs; as chief diplomatic correspondent in Washington, DC; and as the paper’s first Berlin Bureau chief following the unification of Germany and collapse of the Soviet Union.

As a reporter, he covered events including the rise of Solidarity in Poland and the growing Eastern European resistance to Soviet rule; the coming to power of Mikhail Gorbachev in Russia and his summit meetings with President Ronald Reagan; the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Lebanon in the 1980s; and the American invasion of Panama. He also covered the unification of Germany and the collapse of Soviet Communism.

He is the author of four books. The most recent, Berlin 1961: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Most Dangerous Place on Earth, was a New York Times Best Seller and a National Best Seller. Published in 2011, it has subsequently been translated into thirteen different languages.

Kempe is a graduate of the University of Utah and has a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where he was a member of the International Fellows program in the School of International Affairs. He won the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism’s top alumni achievement award and the University of Utah’s Distinguished Alumnus Award.

For his commitment to strengthening the transatlantic alliance, Kempe has been decorated by the Presidents of Poland and Germany and by King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.


Sun, Aug 29, 2021

Biden can still salvage his legacy and US credibility. It won’t be easy.

Here's how President Joe Biden can correct course with allies and partners over Afghanistan—and beyond. 

Inflection Points by Frederick Kempe

Afghanistan Conflict

Sun, Aug 22, 2021

Afghanistan threatens Biden’s shot at being a historic foreign-policy leader

At the end of the worst week of US President Joe Biden’s young presidency, this is the question he must urgently answer: Of all the problems that his Afghanistan troop withdrawal decision has generated, which is most significant?

Inflection Points by Frederick Kempe

Afghanistan Conflict

Sun, Jul 11, 2021

Lessons from the Didi IPO ride: Xi faces a tradeoff between economic dynamism and authoritarian grip

This was a clarifying week for global investors—or for anyone concerned about authoritarian capitalism—of just how much the Chinese Communist Party would be willing to pay to ensure its dominance. The answer represents an immeasurable loss of economic dynamism.

Inflection Points by Frederick Kempe

China Economy & Business

Sun, Jun 27, 2021

At age one hundred, Chinese Communist Party is both the authoritarian world champion—and vulnerable

The Chinese Communist Party, which turns one hundred this week, represents history’s most successful authoritarians. So, why does Chinese President Xi Jinping seem so uneasy?

Inflection Points by Frederick Kempe

China Politics & Diplomacy

Sun, Jun 20, 2021

Biden’s Europe trip set the stage for his historic ambitions

Having repeatedly provided his diagnosis of the cancers endangering global democracies, Biden this past week accelerated the course of treatment.

Inflection Points by Frederick Kempe

Europe & Eurasia European Union

Sun, Jun 13, 2021

History’s warning for the Biden-Putin meeting

The dangers rest in the Biden administration’s understandable focus on China as the contest of our times and insufficient realization of the increased challenges Russia poses.

Inflection Points by Frederick Kempe

Politics & Diplomacy Russia

Sun, May 9, 2021

Four Mideast signs of change offer historic opportunity. Here’s how Biden can build on them.

A positive series of loosely connected events across the Middle East offers the best opportunity in memory for reducing tensions, ending conflict, building economic progress, and advancing regional integration.

Inflection Points by Frederick Kempe

Iran Israel

Sun, May 2, 2021

Here’s why China has gone on the offensive against Biden

The Chinese are more ready to push back against real and imagined slights, even as they escalate warnings and military activities around Taiwan. The question is how Biden will respond.

Inflection Points by Frederick Kempe

China Human Rights

Sun, Apr 25, 2021

Without a trade strategy, Biden can’t win the contest with China

While President Xi Jinping’s China accelerates his efforts to negotiate multilateral and bilateral trade and investment agreements around the world, both Republicans and Democrats in the United States have grown allergic to such arrangements.

Inflection Points by Frederick Kempe

China Economy & Business

Sun, Apr 18, 2021

Why growing Chinese-Russian common cause poses Biden’s nightmare

This past week, Russia and China simultaneously escalated their separate military activities and threats to the sovereignty of Ukraine and Taiwan respectively. This unfolding great power drama couldn’t come at a worse time for the Biden administration. Yet that is probably the point for Putin and Xi, as they look to gain advantage before Biden can secure surer footing through policy reviews and by staffing up key leadership positions.

Inflection Points by Frederick Kempe

China Crisis Management