NSC – Senior Director for International Economics and Competitiveness
White House

Peter Harrell

Senior Director for International Economics and Competitiveness

Serves on the White House National Security Council (NSC).

Peter Harrell has been named Senior Director for International Economics and Competitiveness on the White House National Security Council (NSC) staff for the Biden administration.

Harrell is an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). He previously served in the Obama-era state department, from 2012-2014 as a Deputy Assistant Secretary for Counter Threat Finance and Sanctions within the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, and from 2009-2012 on the Policy Planning staff.

Past statements on development, diplomacy, and U.S. global leadership:

On Diplomacy: In a 2019 article for Foreign Policy, Harrell writes “In the Obama administration, for example, we typically prioritized diplomacy to convince foreign governments to join in U.S. sanctions, wielding secondary sanctions only as a backstop if diplomacy failed.” (source)

On Covid-19: Harrell contends, “Pressure is increasing to ease sanctions on Iran and Venezuela in response to the coronavirus crisis… the administration must still move quickly to provide targeted sanctions relief to alleviate human suffering.” Harrell believes “Leaders in Iran and Venezuela bear ultimate responsibility for the mismanagement and corruption that has impaired their ability to respond to the disease, but the United States should nonetheless resolve to address the humanitarian issue.” (source) 

On Economic Statecraft: Harrell contributes “Policymakers in the next presidential administration and Congress would be well-served to spend at least as much effort focusing on the positive tools of statecraft. These include domestic economic renewal, international finance and development incentives, and positive trade measures, among others.” (source)

On Multilateralism: Writing on the overuse of Sanctions by recent American presidents, Harrell proposed expanding the use of multi-lateral coordination when imposing sanctions, stating “Washington needs to renew its focus on multilateral coordination, particularly with close allies.” (source)

On China: “U.S.-China competition raises the stakes for getting the use of coercive economic statecraft right,” says a report on American economic statecraft by CNAS Task Force on the Future of U.S. Coercive Economic Statecraft, in which Harrell is a contributing member. (source)