Milton Bearden Joins Center for the National Interest


The Center for the National Interest is pleased to announce the appointment of Milton Bearden, a former senior CIA officer, as a Distinguished Non-Resident Fellow dealing with intelligence matters.

“With Milt Bearden, we gain a true CIA legend with unmatched experience dealing with the hard realities of great power competition with Moscow and Beijing,” said Dimitri Simes, President and CEO of the Center for the National Interest. “Much of our competition with Russia and China is being played out in the shadows,” adds George Beebe, the Center’s Vice President and Director of Studies. “Milt’s understanding of the operational realities of covert action and unconventional warfare provides invaluable insight into how the United States should deal with this challenge.”

During his thirty-year career with the CIA, Bearden was a station chief in Pakistan, Nigeria, Sudan, and Germany, and he also served in Hong Kong and various postings in Europe. In 1986, he was put in charge of the CIA’s covert support to mujahedeen fighting against Soviet forces in Afghanistan. He later became chief of the storied Soviet/East European division in CIA’s Directorate of Operations during the collapse of USSR and end of the Cold War.

Bearden is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, with a BA in linguistics, and of the Yale Institute of Far Eastern Languages. He is a recipient of the Distinguished Intelligence Medal, the Intelligence Medal of Merit, the Donovan Award, and the Federal Cross of Merit from the German Federal Republic for his service in Germany at the end of the Cold War. He is the author of The Main Enemy: The Inside Story of the CIA’s Final Showdown with the KGB (with James Risen) and The Black Tulip: A Novel of War in Afghanistan. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, and The National Interest. He has also consulted on several films, including The Good Shepherd and Charlie Wilson’s War.

Former President Richard Nixon established The Center for the National Interest in 1994 to serve as a voice for strategic realism in U.S. foreign policy. Today, the Center seeks to stimulate debate, promote public understanding of U.S. foreign policy and international affairs, and define principled yet pragmatic policies to advance America’s national interest in the complex world of the twenty-first century. The Center also publishes the prominent foreign policy magazine The National Interest, available bi-monthly in print and daily online at