Tom Gjelten

Tom Gjelten covers a wide variety of global security and economic issues for NPR News. He brings to that assignment many years covering international news from posts in Washington and around the world.

Gjelten's overseas reporting experience includes stints in Mexico City as NPR's Latin America correspondent from 1986 to 1990 and in Berlin as Central Europe correspondent from 1990 to 1994. During those years, he covered the wars in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Colombia, as well as the Gulf War of 1990-1991 and the wars in Croatia and Bosnia.

With other NPR correspondents, Gjelten described the transitions to democracy and capitalism in Eastern Europe and the breakup of the Soviet Union. His reporting from Sarajevo from 1992 to 1994 was the basis for his book Sarajevo Daily: A City and Its Newspaper Under Siege (HarperCollins), praised by the New York Times as "a chilling portrayal of a city's slow murder." He is also the author of Professionalism in War Reporting: A Correspondent's View (Carnegie Corporation) and a contributor to Crimes of War: What the Public Should Know (W. W. Norton).

Prior to his current assignment, Gjelten covered U.S. diplomacy and military affairs, first from the State Department and then from the Pentagon. He was reporting live from the Pentagon at the moment it was hit on September 11, 2001, and he was NPR's lead Pentagon reporter during the war in Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq. Gjelten has also reported extensively from Cuba in recent years, visiting the island more than a dozen times. His 2008 book, Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba: The Biography of a Cause (Viking), is a unique history of modern Cuba, told through the life and times of the Bacardi rum family. The New York Times selected it as a "Notable Nonfiction Book," and the Washington Post, Kansas City Star, and San Francisco Chronicle all listed it among their "Best Books of 2008."

Since joining NPR in 1982 as labor and education reporter, Gjelten has won numerous awards for his work. His 1992 series "From Marx to Markets," documenting the transition to market economics in Eastern Europe, won an Overseas Press Club award for "Best Business or Economic Reporting in Radio or TV." His coverage of the wars in the former Yugoslavia earned Gjelten the Overseas Press Club's Lowell Thomas Award, a George Polk Award and a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. He was part of the NPR teams that won an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton for Sept. 11 coverage and a George Foster Peabody Award for coverage of the war in Iraq. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

In addition to reporting for NPR, Gjelten is a regular panelist on the PBS program Washington Week and serves on the editorial board of World Affairs Journal. A graduate of the University of Minnesota, he began his professional career as a public school teacher and a freelance writer.

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3:38pm

Wed November 21, 2012
Middle East

What Gaza Says About Possible Iran-Israel Showdown

Originally published on Sun November 25, 2012 9:01 am

An Israeli missile is launched from the Iron Dome defense system, designed to intercept incoming rockets. This missile was fired from the southern Israeli city of Ashdod in response to a rocket launched from the nearby Palestinian Gaza Strip on Nov. 18.
Jack Guez AFP/Getty Images

In the Gaza Strip fighting, where a cease-fire was reached Wednesday, the Israeli military pounded Gaza with hundreds of airstrikes. Hamas, the militant Palestinian group that rules Gaza, launched hundreds of rocket attacks on Israel.

The weeklong battle temporarily diverted attention from Iran, the archenemy of Israel and a key ally of Hamas. Israeli leaders have threatened to strike Iran over its nuclear program.

Yet the Gaza fight may offer insights into what a possible confrontation between Israel and Iran would look like.

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4:24am

Sat November 17, 2012
U.S.

After Benghazi Hearings, Flurry Of Concern Unsettled

Originally published on Sat November 17, 2012 1:16 pm

After the House Intelligence Committee hearing on Benghazi Friday, Rep. Peter King said he felt U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice's comments after the attack may have been sanitized.
Mladen Antonov AFP/Getty Images

David Petraeus' resignation from the CIA further complicated the debate over the September attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.

Petraeus, a key figure in the events, stepped down as director after admitting to an extramarital affair. But members of Congress were so anxious to hear from him that they brought Petraeus back to Capitol Hill on Friday to get his version of the Benghazi story.

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1:18pm

Wed November 14, 2012
World

U.S. Rethinks Security As Mideast Oil Imports Drop

Originally published on Wed November 14, 2012 6:00 pm

A U.S. Marine patrol walks across the charred oil landscape near a burning well near Kuwait City in March 1991. Concerns about oil supply were at play when the U.S. and its allies intervened during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990. But American policy is changing now that Mideast oil imports to the U.S. are declining.
John Gaps III AP

Within the next two decades, the United States may barely need any oil from the Persian Gulf, due in large part to increased domestic production. That dramatic shift could shake the foundation of U.S. interests in the Middle East.

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3:37am

Thu October 25, 2012
National Security

Energy Independence For U.S.? Try Energy Security

Originally published on Thu October 25, 2012 1:17 pm

A drilling rig near Kennedy, Texas, on May 9. U.S. oil output is surging so fast that the United States could soon overtake Saudi Arabia as the world's biggest producer.
Eric Gay AP

Gone from this year's presidential campaign are most mentions of climate change, environmental pollution, or green jobs. Former Gov. Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential nominee, prefers to call attention instead to the country's continuing dependence on foreign energy sources.

"I will set a national goal of North American energy independence by the year 2020," Romney declared in August.

The line is now a standard part of Romney's stump speech, and he repeated it in his first two debates with President Obama.

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12:32pm

Fri October 5, 2012
Solve This

Candidates Tout Different Routes To 'Energy Security'

Originally published on Fri October 5, 2012 10:07 pm

President Obama and Mitt Romney are both calling on the U.S. to become less dependent on foreign oil, though their plans differ. Here, workers with Bramwell Petroleum set up a derrick for a new oil well near Spivey, Kan., in March.
Mike Hutmacher MCT/Landov

The pressing energy issue in the 2008 presidential campaign was how to reduce carbon emissions and limit global warming. Four years later, the drive for "green energy" has been replaced by a new imperative: the need to end U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

"I will set a national goal of North American energy independence by 2020," Mitt Romney declared during a campaign speech in August. "That means we produce all the energy we use in North America."

He reiterated that goal in the opening minutes of the presidential candidates' debate in Denver this week.

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