Huntsman to head IR think tank

Former Ambassador to China, Utah Gov. and GOP presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman Jr. will be the new chairman of the Atlantic Council, the international relations think thank announced Wednesday.

“It is an honor to have been chosen as chair of the Atlantic Council at a time when it is poised to play an increasingly important global role,” Huntsman said in a press release. “We are at an historic inflection point where consistent and constructive U.S. leadership alongside our European allies — and in close cooperation with other global partners — will be decisive in shaping the future.”

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Huntsman will succeed interim Chairman Gen. Brent Scowcroft, who held the post for a year following the confirmation of the previous chairman, Chuck Hagel, as secretary of Defense.

“Huntsman is a first-class global thinker, public servant, and business leader all rolled up into one person,” said Scowcroft, who will remain the chairman of the Council’s International Advisory Board.

Huntsman, 53, has significant experience in international affairs. He was the U.S ambassador to Singapore from 1992-1993, at the time the youngest U.S. ambassador in more than a century. Later, after serving as governor of Utah from 2005-2009, he resigned the office to accept President Obama’s nomination to serve as ambassador to China, a post he held from 2009-2011.

Huntsman campaigned as a centrist for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, but dropped out following a third-place finish in the New Hampshire primary. Since then, he has occasionally drawn attention by voicing support for a third major party in U.S. politics.

The Atlantic Council, which is nonpartisan, was originally founded in 1961 with a focus on promoting cooperation among the “Atlantic community” of North America and Western Europe. In recent years, however, the organization has expanded significantly and it now has programs focused on Latin America, Africa, and other areas around the world.