NDISC Experts Series

What Comes Next? A Lesson from Saigon

Author: Desch, Michael

An iconic photograph from the waning days of the Vietnam war now seems likely to be recreated in Kabul. In it, an Air America helicopter lands on the roof of a U.S. Central Intelligence Agency building across town from the U.S. Embassy. A CIA officer guides a long line of Vietnamese up a ladder and into the chopper, their last hope of escape from...

Does Social Science Inform Foreign Policy? Evidence from a Survey of US National Security, Trade, and Development Officials

Scholars continue to debate the relationship of academic international relations to policy. One of the most straightforward ways to discern whether policymakers find IR scholarship relevant to their work is to ask them. We analyzed an elite survey of US policy practitioners to better understand the conditions under which practitioners use academic knowledge in their work. We surveyed officials across three different policy areas: international development, national security, and trade. We also employed multiple survey experiments in an effort to causally identify the impact of academic consensus on the views of policy officials and to estimate the relative utility of different kinds of research outputs. We found that...

The Real Source of America’s Rising Rage

Author: Drum, Kevin

Americans sure are angry these days. Everyone says so, so it must be true. But who or what are we angry at? Pandemic stresses aside, I’d bet you’re not especially angry at your family. Or your friends. Or your priest or your plumber or your postal carrier. Or even your boss. Unless, of course, the conversation turns to politics. That’s when we start shouting at each other. We are way, way angrier about politics than we used to be, something confirmed by both common experience and formal research. When did this all start? Here are a few...

The defense innovation machine: Why the U.S. will remain on the cutting edge

American security policy discussions commonly warn that the United States is falling behind technologically, especially vis-à-vis China. However, the U.S. military remains at the cutting edge because of its well-developed defense innovation system. No nation (or combination) comes close to U.S. investment in defense R&D. Unmatched political concerns about...

Symposium: Time to bring all U.S. troops home from the Middle East

Is the United States truly ready to get its military forces out of the Middle East? Should it? Considering there are upwards of 60,000 troops in the region today, many of them stationed on bases in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, this is a question ripe for debate. In a new paper for the Quincy Institute, University of Notre Dame scholar Eugene Gholz argues in detail that the fundamental reasons for American military involvement there — security, oil, human rights — no longer apply, and that staying there only...  

Intentions in Great Power Politics: Uncertainty and the Roots of Conflict

Why the future of great power politics is likely to resemble its dismal past Can great powers be confident that their peers have benign intentions? States that trust each other can live at peace; those that mistrust each other are doomed to compete for arms and allies and may even go to war. Sebastian Rosato explains that states routinely lack the kind of information they need to be convinced that their rivals mean them no harm. Even in cases that supposedly involved mutual trust—Germany and Russia in the Bismarck era; Britain and the United States during the great rapprochement; France and Germany, and Japan and the United States in the early interwar period; and the Soviet Union and United States at the end of the Cold War—the protagonists mistrusted each other and struggled for advantage. Rosato argues that the ramifications of his argument for U.S.–China relations are profound: the future of great power politics is likely to resemble its dismal past.…

Oral History Transcript

James Webb, former U.S. Senator from Virginia, has been a combat Marine, a counsel in the Congress, an assistant secretary of defense and Secretary of the Navy, an Emmy-award winning journalist, a filmmaker, a professor of literature, a resident fellow at two of America’s most prestigious universities, and is the author of 10 books. Webb graduated from the Naval Academy in 1968, one of 18 midshipmen to receive...