Priscilla Clapp is currently a senior advisor to the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Asia Society. She is a retired minister-counselor in the U.S. Foreign Service.

During her 30-year career with the U.S. Government, Clapp served as chief of mission and permanent charge d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Burma (1999-2002), deputy chief of mission in the U.S. Embassy in South Africa (1993-96), principal deputy assistant secretary of state for Refugee Programs (1989-1993), deputy political counselor in the U.S. Embassy in Moscow (1986-88), and chief of political-military affairs in the U.S. Embassy in Japan (1981-85).  She also worked on the State Department's Policy Planning Staff, in the East Asian, Political Military and International Organizations bureaus, and with the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.

Prior to government service, Clapp spent ten years in foreign policy and arms control research, with the MIT Center for International Studies and as a Research Associate at the Brookings Institution. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Clapp’s books include: with Morton Halperin, "Bureaucratic Politics and Foreign Policy" (Brookings, 2006), with I.M. Destler et al., "Managing an Alliance: the Politics of U.S.-Japanese Relations" (Brookings, 1976), with Morton Halperin, "U.S.-Japanese Relations in the 1970's" (Harvard, 1974).  She is a frequent media commentator and the author of numerous publications on Burma and U.S. Burma policy with USIP, the Brookings Institution, the East-West Center, Australia National University, the Asia Society, the National Bureau of Asian Research, Singapore’s ISEAS and others. 

Publications By Priscilla A.

Myanmar: China, the Coup and the Future

Myanmar: China, the Coup and the Future

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

By: Jason Tower; Priscilla A. Clapp

In making major deals with Myanmar’s military rulers, China seems to be violating its official guidance for investment abroad: Avoid conflict zones. Although Myanmar is in a state of collapse and widening rebellion, China continues to advance plans for a complex economic corridor in the country with the military unveiling steps to move ahead with big joint-venture projects. The generals’ bid to appear in control of things is obvious. China, on the other hand, seems to have fallen into a trap. Cozying up to the junta puts its investments at immediate and long-term risk and erodes its standing in regional organizations. To protect its interests, Beijing should press the junta to curb its rampant violence against the population and to restore the elected government.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Economics & Environment; Conflict Analysis & Prevention

Chaos in Myanmar Is China’s Nightmare

Chaos in Myanmar Is China’s Nightmare

Friday, May 28, 2021

By: Jason Tower; Priscilla A. Clapp

The suspicion that China approved the military coup against Myanmar’s elected government runs deep among Burmese resisting their new dictatorship. Perhaps proof of such meddling will emerge someday. For now, what seems clear is that China would not have chosen to knowingly embroil its interests in Myanmar in the chaos that has followed the army’s power grab. On virtually every front, from public health to national security, China now faces new threats created by the post-coup breakdown in governance and the rule of law. As these consequences come into focus, Beijing will have to decide whether to maintain its tacit acceptance of the generals’ regime or take a different policy tack to protect investments in its neighbor to the south.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Economics & Environment; Conflict Analysis & Prevention

Election Cancellations in Rakhine State Could Signal Trouble for Myanmar

Election Cancellations in Rakhine State Could Signal Trouble for Myanmar

Thursday, November 5, 2020

By: Priscilla A. Clapp; Jason Tower

On October 16, when it took the stunning and sweeping decision to cancel most of the vote in Rakhine State on November 8, the Union Election Commission (UEC) disenfranchised an estimated 73% of Rakhine voters, in addition to the Rohingya who had been stripped of voting rights in 2015. The UEC justified its decision on the grounds that the election could be neither free nor fair because of ongoing armed conflict in the state. When critics asked why the elections had not been cancelled in war-stricken Paletwa, where security concerns are most acute, the UEC called off elections in parts of that Chin State town and restored them in a few village tracts in Rakhine.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

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