R. Clarke Cooper is a nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative and senior director of Guard Hill House.
Cooper recently served as the assistant secretary for political-military affairs at the US Department of State from 2019 to 2021. During his tenure, Cooper implemented reforms to streamline arms export licensing and improve government support to the US defense industry. By enabling security partnerships and through advocacy for burden sharing to counter shared threats, Cooper continued his advocacy for performance measures across United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions, women in active peacekeeping roles, and accountability measures for troop and police contributing countries. In 2021, Cooper was awarded the Superior Honor Award for interagency coordination and implementation of the security cooperation elements of the Abraham Accords.
Cooper has over two decades of experience in diplomatic and military roles. Prior to returning to the US Department of State, Cooper served as director of intelligence planning for Joint Special Operations Command’s Joint Inter-Agency Task Force–National Capital Region, where he expanded bilateral and multilateral information and intelligence sharing to combat terrorism.
In the Bush administration, Cooper served as US alternate representative to the UN Security Council, US delegate to the UN Administrative and Budgetary Committee, senior advisor in the US State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, and advisor at the US embassy in Baghdad. His active-duty military assignments include tours with Joint Special Operations Command, US Africa Command, Special Operations Command Africa, Joint Special Operations Task Force–Trans-Sahara, and Special Operations Command Central. An outdoor enthusiast, he served as an assistant director of the National Park Service early in his career and attained the rank of Eagle Scout in his youth.
Cooper is a graduate of the Florida State University with a BS in history, and he maintains a field grade commission with the US Army Reserve. He is married to a fellow combat veteran, Michael Marin.