Charles M. Kupperman
last updated: May 06, 2008
- Center for Security Policy: National Security Advisory Council
- National Institute for Public Policy: Board of Advisors
- The Boeing Company: Former Vice President
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Charles M. Kupperman, a longtime defense contracting executive, has been associated with a number of influential militarist think tanks and institutions including the Center for Security Policy (CSP), the Committee on the Present Danger (CPD), Empower America, and Missouri State University’s Department of Defense and Strategic Studies. He also served in a number of posts during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, including as executive director of the General Advisory Committee on Arms Control and Disarmament.
Kupperman’s ascent among hawks in Washington began in the late 1970s, when he served as a policy advisor to the Committee on the Present Danger, a neoconservative-led advocacy group that aimed to undo détente and replace it with an aggressive anti-Soviet posture (see GroupWatch Profile: Committee on the Present Danger). In 1980, Kupperman served on the Reagan-Bush campaign team and was part of what became known as the “October Surprise Group,” whose objective was to prepare for “any last-minute foreign policy or defense-related event, including the release of the hostages, that might favorably impact President Carter in the November election.”1 The group was instrumental in pushing the Iranian hostage crisis to the forefront of the election in an attempt to tarnish the presidency and campaign of Jimmy Carter. Other members of the October Surprise Group were reported to be Richard V. Allen, Thomas H. Moorer, Eugene V. Rostow, William R. Van Cleave, Fred C. Iklé, John Lehman, Robert G. Neumann, Laurence Silberman, and Seymour Weiss. Richard Perle and Michael Ledeen were among the group’s outside advisors.2
Shortly after Reagan, an honorary member of the CPD, became president, Kupperman was appointed director of the General Advisory Committee on Arms Control and Disarmament.3 Kupperman was one of many young conservative hawks who were given posts in the first Reagan administration. Commenting on this period, Kupperman once told the New York Times that he and other young right-wingers had helped bring “better balance to the bureaucratic debate, and that's a healthy development.”4 Kupperman served in a number of other capacities in the Reagan administration, including as the executive assistant to the director of the Office of Personnel Management and an assistant to the administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.5
At the end of Reagan’s presidency, Kupperman became an executive at McDonnell Douglas, the first in what has become a succession of high-level jobs with defense contractors.6 In 1991, he was named president and CEO of Xsirius Superconductivity, a firm that during Kupperman’s tenure received research contracts from the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization, the Pentagon department tasked with R&D on a space-based missile defense.7 At the time of Kupperman’s appointment, William Graham, a fellow missile defense enthusiast and former Reagan administration official, was named chairman of the Xsirius board of directors. Kupperman later served as vice president of Lockheed Martin’s missile defense sector and then as vice president of Boeing’s strategic operations and missile defense operations, a post he retired from in 2006.8
Throughout his career in the private sector, Kupperman has been a booster of several organizations that promote hardline defense policies. Along with a number of other like-minded defense executives, Kupperman serves on the board of directors of CSP, a Frank Gaffney-led advocacy group that aggressively promotes missile defense programs and militarist policies in the “war on terror.”9 Reporter Jason Vest called CSP’s roster of advisors “an A-list of influential conservative hawks,” adding, “Gaffney and CSP's prescriptions for national security have been fairly simple: Gut all arms control treaties, push ahead with weapons systems virtually everyone agrees should be killed (such as the V-22 Osprey), give no quarter to the Palestinians and, most important, go full-steam ahead on just about every national missile defense program.”10
Kupperman is also a member of the board of directors of the National Institute for Public Policy (NIPP), an organization that promotes hawkish strategic defense programs, including missile defense and nuclear weapons policies.11 NIPP, founded by Reagan administration nuclear strategist Keith Payne, played an influential role in advancing the policies of the George W. Bush administration in abrogating the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and in establishing the blueprint for the Bush administration's new nuclear weapons policy.12
In 2003, Kupperman joined a prominent group of neoconservative writers and politicians to restore the mothballed Committee on the Present Danger to promote the policies of the war on terror. The group is co-chaired by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), and former CIA director James Woolsey. Kupperman is quoted on the CPD website as saying, “Winning the war against global terrorism is fundamental to international security in the 21st Century and we must be relentless in rooting out the terrorist network.”13
In 2005, Kupperman was one of many rightist political figures who signed an open letter in support of the nomination of the John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. The nomination, which failed to win the support of the Senate, met fierce opposition, both domestically and abroad. A July 23, 2006 New York Times article by Warren Hoge reported deep scorn for Bolton among UN ambassadors, even from countries close to the United States. According to Hoge, “[M]any diplomats say they see Mr. Bolton as a stand-in for the arrogance of the administration itself.”14 By contrast, Kupperman and the other letter signatories argued that Bolton was uniquely suited to the post, writing, in part, “His tenure as the Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations during the administration of George H.W. Bush and as Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security during [the George W. Bush] presidency have honed Mr. Bolton’s indisputably impressive intellect and robust diplomatic skills in ways that will serve the nation well at the UN.”15
Kupperman was an advisor to the Independent Working Group on Missile Defense. Pointing to group members and their sponsors, missile defense expert Theresa Hitchens quipped: “‘Independent Working Group’ is … a bit of a misnomer.”16 In addition to the IWG, Kupperman also advised the Space Relationship, and the 21st Century—a task force of conservative foreign policy ideologues who insisted that, “Consolidation of the preeminent U.S. position in space is akin to Britain's dominance of the oceans in the 19th century.” Sponsors of the task force included the American Foreign Policy Council, the Claremont Institute, Missouri State University's Department of Defense and Strategic Studies, the George C. Marshall Institute, Heritage Foundation, High Frontier, and the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis.
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Charles M. Kupperman Résumé
- Center for Security Policy: Member, National Security Advisory Council; Member, Board of Directors
- Committee on the Present Danger: Member (Post-9/11 Version); Former Member, Executive Committee and Senior Defense Analyst (Cold War-Era Version)
- Missouri State University’s Department of Defense and Strategic Studies: Adjunct Professor
- National Institute for Public Policy: Member, Board of Directors; Member, Board of Advisors
- Empower America: Former Advisor
- Committee on the Present Danger
Regan-Bush Presidential Campaign: Adviser (1980)
- Office of the President: Special Assistant for Administration to President Ronald Reagan; Former Deputy Director of the Office of Administration (During Reagan’s Presidency)
- General Advisory Committee on Arms Control and Disarmament: Former Executive Director (1981-1985)
- NASA: Former Executive Assistant to the Acting Administrator (During Reagan’s Presidency)
- Office of Personnel Management: Former Executive Assistant to the Director (During Reagan’s Presidency)
- The Boeing Company: Former Vice President, Strategic Integration and Operations, Missile Defense Systems
- Lockheed Martin: Former Vice President, Space and Strategic Missiles Sector
- Xsirius Superconductivity: Former President and CEO
- McDonnell Douglas: Executive (Late 1980s-1991)
- Purdue University: B.A. (1972)
- University of British Columbia: M.A. (1973)
- University of Southern California: Ph.D. (1980)
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Sources1. Robert Parry, “Part III: Original October Surprise,” Consortium News, October 29, 2006.
2. Robert Parry, “Part III: Original October Surprise,” Consortium News, October 29, 2006.
3. White House press release, “Appointment of Charles M. Kupperman as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of the Office of Administration,” July 31, 1986, http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/speeches/1986/073186b.htm, made available by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/.
4. David Shribman, “…And Recruit for the Government,” New York Times, October 12, 1983.
5. White House press release, “Appointment of Charles M. Kupperman as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of the Office of Administration,” July 31, 1986, http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/speeches/1986/073186b.htm.
6. “Charles Kupperman Elected President and CEO; William Graham Elected Chairman of Xsirius Superconductivity,” PR Newswire, February 27, 1991.
7. “Xsirius Superconductivity Inc. Receives a Six-Month $50,000 Strategic Defense Initiative Organization Contract,” SDI Monitor, March 27, 1992.
8. “Charles Kupperman Elected President and CEO; William Graham Elected Chairman of Xsirius Superconductivity,” PR Newswire, February 27, 1991; “Retirements,” Boeing Frontiers, Volume V, Issue V, September 2006, www.boeing.com/news/frontiers/archive/2006/september/9-06_Frontiers.pdf.
9. Jim Lobe, “Neo-Con Superhawk Earns His Wings on Port Flap,” Inter Press Service, February 23, 2006.
10. Jason Vest, "The Men from Jinsa and CSP," The Nation, September 2, 2002.
11. National Institute for Public Policy, Board of Directors, http://www.nipp.org/boardofadvisors.php.
12. William D. Hartung with Jonathan Reingold, "About Face: The Role of the Arms Lobby in the Bush Administration's Radical Reversal of Two Decades of U.S. Nuclear Policy," World Policy Institute, Arms Trade Resource Center, May 2002, http://www.worldpolicy.org/projects/arms/reports/reportaboutface.html.
13. Committee on the Present Danger, “Member in Brief: Charles M. Kupperman,” http://www.committeeonthepresentdanger.org/TabID/502/XMMid/1432/XMID/386/XMView/2/Default.aspx.
14. Warren Hoge, "Praise at Home for Envoy, But Scorn at the UN," New York Times, July 23, 2006.
15. “Letter to Hon. John Lugar, Chairman, Foreign Relations Committee,” April 4, 2005, http://dailydemarche.blogspot.com/2005/04/bolton-boosters-inc.html.
16. Theresa Hitchens, “Return of the Star Warriors,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, January/February 2007.
17. Center for Security Policy, “Board of Directors,” http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/Home.aspx?CategoryID=47&SubCategoryID=51; “National Security Advisory Council,” http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/Home.aspx?CategoryID=47&SubCategoryID=50; Committee on the Present Danger, “Our Members”, http://www.committeeonthepresentdanger.org/OurMembers/tabid/364/Default.aspx; National Institute for Public Policy, “Board of Advisors,” http://www.nipp.org/boardofadvisors.php; Missouri State University, “Graduate Faculty”, Adjunct Graduate Faculty, Charles M. Kupperman, http://graduate.missouristate.edu/assets/graduate/263_285_Faculty.pdf; White House press release, “Appointment of Charles M. Kupperman as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of the Office of Administration,” July 31, 1986, http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/speeches/1986/073186b.htm (made available by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/); Boeing Frontiers magazine, “Retirements,” Volume V, Issue V, September 2006, www.boeing.com/news/frontiers/archive/2006/september/9-06_Frontiers.pdf; Missouri State University Graduate Faculty, http://graduate.missouristate.edu/assets/graduate/263_285_Faculty.pdf; “Charles Kupperman Elected President and CEO; William Graham Elected Chairman of Xsirius Superconductivity,” PR Newswire, February 27, 1991.