Barry Posen

Barry R. Posen

Ford International Professor of Political Science at MIT

Director of the MIT Security Studies Program

CV (pdf)

Security studies; international relations; international security; military strategy; restraint; nuclear studies; military doctrine.

Biography

Barry R. Posen is Ford International Professor of Political Science at MIT, Director of the MIT Security Studies Program, and serves on the Executive Committee of Seminar XXI. He has written three books, Restraint-A New Foundation for U.S. Grand Strategy, Inadvertent Escalation: Conventional War and Nuclear Risks and The Sources of Military Doctrine. The latter won two awards: The American Political Science Association's Woodrow Wilson Foundation Book Award, and Ohio State University's Edward J. Furniss Jr. Book Award. He is also the author of numerous articles, including "The Case for Restraint," The American Interest, (November/December 2007) and "Command of the Commons: The Military Foundation of U.S. Hegemony," International Security, (Summer, 2003.) He has been a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow; Rockefeller Foundation International Affairs Fellow; Guest Scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; Woodrow Wilson Center Fellow; Smithsonian Institution; Transatlantic Fellow of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, and most recently Visiting Fellow at the John Sloan Dickey Center at Dartmouth College.

Research

Professor Posen studies U.S. grand strategy and national security policy. His current research examines whether the diffusion of power away from the United States can best be understood as the emergence of a multipolar structure of power, and if so, how the United States should navigate this change.

Posen’s project aims to research the “rules of the road” of 21st Century multipolarity. To do so, he looks at how states and statesmen navigated multipolar systems in the past. But there are limits to drawing lessons from history, due to the truly global nature of a future multipolar system, if it emerges.  Further, nuclear weapons have changed security competition among states, and the past half-century has seen major changes in conventional warfare as well. Posen aims to imagine the kind of multipolar security competition that might prevail, given these changes.  Posen published an article exploring the impact of multipolarity on the management of civil wars in Daedalus (Fall 2017).  

Posen continues to study current U.S. national security policy. He published his interpretation of the grand strategy of the Trump Administration, "Illiberal Hegemony," in Foreign Affairs (March/April 2018). And he contributed to the debate on how to address the North Korean nuclear weapons program in the New York Times."The Price of War With North Korea" (December 2017). He remains actively engaged in the debate on U.S. Grand Strategy,  promoting Restraint whenever there is an opportunity. Finally, he follows European security issues, and lives in hope that one day Europeans will assume responsibility for their own security.

Recent Publications

Restraint: A New Foundation for U.S. Grand Strategy, Cornell University Press, 2014.

"Pull Back: The Case for a Less Activist Foreign Policy," Foreign Affairs, January/February 2013.

"Overkill," (part of "The Containment Conundrum: How Dangerous is a Nuclear Iran?") Foreign Affairs, July/August 2010, pp. 160-163.

"Emerging Multipolarity: Why Should We Care?" Current History (November 2009) pp. 347-352.

Breakthroughs:  Armored Offensives in Western Europe, 1944. With Eric Heginbotham, Nick Beldecos, Kevin Oliveau, Jonathan Ladinsky, Brian Nichiporuk, Eugene Gholz, and and Ken Pollack. July 2009.

"Restraining Order," The American Interest, Vol. 3, No. 3, January-February 2008, pp. 94-97.

Teaching

17.462 Innovation in Military Organizations
17.468 Foundations of Security Studies
17.478 Great Power Military Intervention
17.482-3 U.S. Military Power
17.484 Comparative Grand Strategy and Military Doctrine
17.951 Intelligence: Practices, Problems and Prospects

News

3Q: Barry Posen on the NATO Summit and state of the alliance

Michelle English MIT News/Center for International Studies

Barry Posen, a leading national security expert and Cold War historian, offers in-depth scholarship on the historic meetings. Posen, a Ford International Professor of Political Science and director of the MIT Security Studies Program,  discusses the role of NATO today, and whether the alliance is “stronger than ever,” as President Trump stated in a post-summit press conference.

The Rise of Illiberal Hegemony

Barry R. Posen Foreign Affairs

Grand strategy is a slippery concept, and for those attempting to divine the Trump administration’s, its National Security Strategy—a word salad of a document—yields little insight. The better way to understand Trump’s approach to the world is to look at a year’s worth of actual policies.

The Price of War With North Korea

Barry R. Posen The New York Times

During his first official trip to Asia last month, President Trump issued a stern warning to North Korea: “Do not underestimate us. And do not try us.” But for his part, Mr. Trump should not underestimate the steep human cost of initiating a war against Pyongyang.

Biography

Barry R. Posen is Ford International Professor of Political Science at MIT, Director of the MIT Security Studies Program, and serves on the Executive Committee of Seminar XXI. He has written three books, Restraint-A New Foundation for U.S. Grand Strategy, Inadvertent Escalation: Conventional War and Nuclear Risks and The Sources of Military Doctrine. The latter won two awards: The American Political Science Association's Woodrow Wilson Foundation Book Award, and Ohio State University's Edward J. Furniss Jr. Book Award. He is also the author of numerous articles, including "The Case for Restraint," The American Interest, (November/December 2007) and "Command of the Commons: The Military Foundation of U.S. Hegemony," International Security, (Summer, 2003.) He has been a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow; Rockefeller Foundation International Affairs Fellow; Guest Scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; Woodrow Wilson Center Fellow; Smithsonian Institution; Transatlantic Fellow of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, and most recently Visiting Fellow at the John Sloan Dickey Center at Dartmouth College.

Research

Professor Posen studies U.S. grand strategy and national security policy. His current research examines whether the diffusion of power away from the United States can best be understood as the emergence of a multipolar structure of power, and if so, how the United States should navigate this change.

Posen’s project aims to research the “rules of the road” of 21st Century multipolarity. To do so, he looks at how states and statesmen navigated multipolar systems in the past. But there are limits to drawing lessons from history, due to the truly global nature of a future multipolar system, if it emerges.  Further, nuclear weapons have changed security competition among states, and the past half-century has seen major changes in conventional warfare as well. Posen aims to imagine the kind of multipolar security competition that might prevail, given these changes.  Posen published an article exploring the impact of multipolarity on the management of civil wars in Daedalus (Fall 2017).  

Posen continues to study current U.S. national security policy. He published his interpretation of the grand strategy of the Trump Administration, "Illiberal Hegemony," in Foreign Affairs (March/April 2018). And he contributed to the debate on how to address the North Korean nuclear weapons program in the New York Times."The Price of War With North Korea" (December 2017). He remains actively engaged in the debate on U.S. Grand Strategy,  promoting Restraint whenever there is an opportunity. Finally, he follows European security issues, and lives in hope that one day Europeans will assume responsibility for their own security.

Recent Publications

Restraint: A New Foundation for U.S. Grand Strategy, Cornell University Press, 2014.

"Pull Back: The Case for a Less Activist Foreign Policy," Foreign Affairs, January/February 2013.

"Overkill," (part of "The Containment Conundrum: How Dangerous is a Nuclear Iran?") Foreign Affairs, July/August 2010, pp. 160-163.

"Emerging Multipolarity: Why Should We Care?" Current History (November 2009) pp. 347-352.

Breakthroughs:  Armored Offensives in Western Europe, 1944. With Eric Heginbotham, Nick Beldecos, Kevin Oliveau, Jonathan Ladinsky, Brian Nichiporuk, Eugene Gholz, and and Ken Pollack. July 2009.

"Restraining Order," The American Interest, Vol. 3, No. 3, January-February 2008, pp. 94-97.

Teaching

17.462 Innovation in Military Organizations
17.468 Foundations of Security Studies
17.478 Great Power Military Intervention
17.482-3 U.S. Military Power
17.484 Comparative Grand Strategy and Military Doctrine
17.951 Intelligence: Practices, Problems and Prospects

News

3Q: Barry Posen on the NATO Summit and state of the alliance

Michelle English MIT News/Center for International Studies

Barry Posen, a leading national security expert and Cold War historian, offers in-depth scholarship on the historic meetings. Posen, a Ford International Professor of Political Science and director of the MIT Security Studies Program,  discusses the role of NATO today, and whether the alliance is “stronger than ever,” as President Trump stated in a post-summit press conference.

The Rise of Illiberal Hegemony

Barry R. Posen Foreign Affairs

Grand strategy is a slippery concept, and for those attempting to divine the Trump administration’s, its National Security Strategy—a word salad of a document—yields little insight. The better way to understand Trump’s approach to the world is to look at a year’s worth of actual policies.

The Price of War With North Korea

Barry R. Posen The New York Times

During his first official trip to Asia last month, President Trump issued a stern warning to North Korea: “Do not underestimate us. And do not try us.” But for his part, Mr. Trump should not underestimate the steep human cost of initiating a war against Pyongyang.