Desche Classroom2

NDISC Faculty are at the forefront of thought leadership in national security. Their research drives change and impacts policy, which is brought to the classroom and to conversations within the center.

The latest knowledge in the field, as well as the skills and passions as active researchers, are shared with students on a daily basis.

Our faculty teach students to become researchers in their own right, helping them develop as lifelong learners and go on to a myriad of interesting and engaging careers.


“Restraint and Oil Security,” in U.S. Grand Strategy in the 21st Century: The Case for Restraint

Author: Eugene Gholz

Grand strategy, meaning a state’s theory about how it can achieve national security for itself, is elusive. That is particularly true in the United States, where the division of federal power and the lack of direct security threats limit consensus about how to manage danger. This book seeks to spur more vigorous debate on US grand strategy. To do so, the first half of the volume assembles the most recent academic critiques of primacy, the dominant strategic perspective in the United States today. The contributors challenge the notion that US national security requires a massive military, huge defense spending, and frequent military intervention around the world. The second half of the volume makes the positive case for a more restrained foreign policy by excavating the historical roots of restraint in the United States and illustrating how restraint might work in practice in the Middle East and elsewhere. The volume concludes with assessments of the political viability of foreign policy restraint in the United States today...…

"The Very Healthy US Defense Innovation System," in Leaders, Laggards, and Followers: The Global Competition for Defense Innovation, UC Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation Research Briefs

Author: Eugene Gholz

The US defense innovation system enjoys tremendous advantages that other countries cannot readily replicate. It has accumulated capabilities over decades of funding and experimentation that dwarf other countries’ efforts, and the incentives to innovate in the United States are not easily replicable elsewhere. The unique US political system favors substitution of technology for labor, openness to new ideas, and competition among decentralized organizations to solve national security challenges. The constant worrying that the United States is losing its defense innovation advantages is simply part of the politics that keep the United States far, far ahead of its potential rivals...…

The National Interest: From Hanoi to Kabul

Author: Michael Desch

America's foreign-policy difficulties are multiplying, from Asia to the Middle East. Faced with the prospect of losing in Afghanistan, the president on the recommendation of his military advisers (and reversing a previous stand) has announced a new, notably vague and apparently open-ended “strategy” that includes sending additional U.S. troops. And he promises to “win,” without really explaining how we will know if we have won...…

ISSF: Forum on the Gender Gap in Political Science

Author: Michael Desch

Dawn Langan Teele and Kathleen Thelen raise challenging and important questions about the gender gap in publications in top political science journals. 2 At Security Studies we are grateful for the opportunity to reflect on our own history in representing women in the pages of our journal. Teele and Thelen are right—women have been underrepresented—but there is some cause for optimism. From its entirely male dominated founding nearly 30 years ago, the journal has made great strides, though there remains more to do, and we encourage ISSF readers with ideas on this issue to communicate with us or members of the editorial board and team...…

“Getting Out of the Gulf: Oil and U.S. Military Strategy,” in Foreign Affairs

Author: Rose Kelanic

In January 1980,U.S. President Jimmy Carter used his State of the Union address to announce that in order to protect "the free movement of Middle East oil," the United States would repel "an attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf." Carter and his successors made good on that pledge, ramping up U.S. military capabilities in the region and even fighting the Gulf War to prevent Saddam Hussein's Iraq from dominating the region's oil supplies. Although Washington has had a number of interests in the Persian Gulf over the years, including preventing nuclear proliferation, fighting terrorism, and spreading democracy, the main rationale for its involvement has always been to keep the oil flowing...…

Financial and energy security analysis of China’s loan-for-oil deals

Author: Eugene Gholz

As China’s dependence on imported oil has soared in recent years, Chinese concerns about energy security have naturally increased. The Chinese government has encouraged China’s National Oil Companies to expand their investments around the world. Some of the high profile cases of state support for these international deals have taken the form of “loan-for-oil” agreements in which Chinese state development banks lend billions of dollars to oil-producing countries at below-market interest rates in exchange for the producers’ agreements to sell oil to Chinese oil companies (at future market prices rather than at a fixed price). Some analysts consider the Chinese investments to be an energy security policy. Using standard financial analysis, we show that these agreements cannot reasonably be considered profitseeking investments by the Chinese. Separately, we also show that only a few of the projects connected to loan-for-oil deals could ameliorate China’s fear of future political-military supply interruptions, and even in those cases, China could achieve the same energy security benefit through simpler mechanisms. The loan-for-oil deals implicitly suggest that China does not expect future conflict that might block Chinese access to oil imports...…