Robert L. Suettinger

Former Senior Advisor and Consultant

This is the profile of a former staff member, affiliate, intern, or guest author. Biographical information is not maintained and may be out of date.

Robert Suettinger currently is a Senior Advisor and Consultant at the Stimson Center, working on issues pertaining to Chinese politics.  Prior to joining Stimson, he was an Analytic Director at CENTRA Technology, Inc. for nine years.  Previously, he had been Director of Research for MBP Consulting Limited LLC, a Senior Policy Analyst at RAND and a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Suettinger retired from federal government service in 1998, after nearly 25 years in the intelligence and foreign policy bureaucracies.  He joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1975, and spent his entire career in the analysis of Asian affairs.  After several years as an analyst and manager in CIA’s Directorate of Intelligence, he was assigned as Director of the Office of Analysis for East Asia and the Pacific in the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research.  Subsequently, he served for five years as Deputy National Intelligence Officer for East Asia on the National Intelligence Council (NIC).

Beginning in March 1994, Suettinger was Director of Asian Affairs on the National Security Council, where he assisted National Security Advisors Anthony Lake and Samuel R. Berger in the development of American policy toward East Asia.  He returned to the NIC as National Intelligence Officer for East Asia in October 1997.

Suettinger holds an M.A. from Columbia University and a B.A. from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin.  He served in the U.S. Army in the then Republic of Vietnam in 1969-70.

Selected Publications

“American ‘Management’ of Taiwan Strait ‘Crises:’ 1954, 1958 and 1996” in Michael Swaine, ed., Managing Sino-American Crises: Case Studies and Analysis, (The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington DC, October 2006).

“Introduction,” Tracking the Dragon: National Intelligence Estimates on China During the Era of Mao, 1948-1976.  (Washington, DC: NIC 2004-05, Oct. 2004).

Beyond Tiananmen: The Politics of U.S.-China Relations, 1989-2000, (The Brookings Institution, Washington DC, June 2003).

“U.S.-China Policy: The Importance of Debate,” in Kent H. Butts and Edward L. Hughes, eds., Economics and National Security: The Case of China, (Center for Strategic Leadership, Carlisle, PA, 2002).

“Tough Engagement: U.S.-China Relations” in Richard Haass and Meghan O’Sullivan, editors, Honey and Vinegar: Incentives, Sanctions and Foreign Policy, (The Brookings Institution, Washington DC, 2000).

“The Rise and Descent of “Peaceful Rise,” in China Leadership Monitor, Issue 12, Fall 2004  (

“Leadership Policy Toward Taiwan and the United States in the Wake of Chen Shui-bian’s Re-election,” in China Leadership Monitor, Issue 11, Summer 2004  (

“Of Successors, Memories, and Guidance: Qian Qichen Defines His Legacy,” in China Leadership Monitor, Issue 10, Spring 2004  (

“China’s Foreign Policy Leadership: Testing Time,” in China Leadership Monitor,

Issue 9, Winter 2004 (

“China’s Foreign Policy-making Process,” paper for CSIS Conference on “PRC Policymaking in the Wake of Leadership Change,” October 31, 2003

“The Taiwan Dilemma: Time for a Change in the U.S. Approach?” paper for Woodrow Wilson Center Conference on “U.S.-China Relations Since the Cold War,” May 2000, at

“We’re from the Government and We’re Here to Watch: U.S. Government Observation and Analysis of China, 1949-1999,” paper prepared for “Trends in China Watching: Observing China at 50” Conference at George Washington University, October 8-9, 1999.

Research & Writing

Stimson in the News
Robert L. Suettinger quoted in The New York Times on Hu Yaobang

China’s staunchly traditionalist Communist leader, Xi Jinping, paid tribute on Friday to a predecessor, Hu Yaobang, who was in many ways his opposite in temperament and politics. Mr. Hu was a passionate liberalizer in the 1980s, and he dedica…

Stimson in the News
Robert Suettinger quoted in The New York Times on China

President Xi Jinping of China looked regal as he stood in a limousine moving past Tiananmen Square this month, wearing a traditional suit of the kind favored by Mao and waving at parade troops assembled at attention. But the luster of Mr. Xi’s imp…

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