Colin P. Clarke

Photo of Colin Clarke
Political Scientist
Pittsburgh Office

Education

B.A. in communications, Loyola College; M.S. in international relations, New York University; Ph.D. in international security policy, University of Pittsburgh

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email media@rand.org.

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Overview

Colin P. Clarke is a political scientist at the RAND Corporation, where his research focuses on insurgency, political violence, transnational terrorism, criminal networks and a range of other international security issues. At the Matthew B. Ridgway Center for International Security Studies, he is an affiliated scholar with research interests related to transnational terrorism and violent non-state actors. At New York University's Center for Global Affairs, Clarke is an associate of the Initative on the Study of Emerging Threats (ISET).

At Carnegie Mellon University, Clarke is a Lecturer and teaches courses on U.S. Grand Strategy and Terrorism & Insurgency. In 2011, he spent three months embedded with Combined Joint Inter-agency Task Force Shafafiyat in Kabul, Afghanistan, working on anti-corruption efforts and analyzing the nexus between terrorists, drug traffickers, and a range of political and economic power brokers. CJIATF Shafafiyat was commanded by Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster. Clarke is the author of Terrorism, Inc.: The Financing of Terrorism, Insurgency, and Irregular Warfare, published in 2015 by Praeger Security International.

Clarke appears frequently in the media to comment on terrorism and his work has been published in a range of newspapers and academic journals. He received his Ph.D. in international security policy from the University of Pittsburgh.

Concurrent Non-RAND Positions

Lecturer, Institute for Politics & Strategy, Carnegie Mellon University

Recent Projects

  • Countering ISIL's Finances
  • Trends for Terrorism and Violence by Non-State Actors
  • Organized Crime, Violent Conflict and Fragile Solutions
  • Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan

Selected Publications

Colin P. Clarke, Terrorism, Inc.: The Financing of Terrorism, Insurgency and Irregular Warfare, Praeger Security International, 2015

Colin P. Clarke, Christopher Paul, From Stalemate to Settlement: Lessons for Afghanistan from Historical Insurgencies That Have Been Resolved Through Negotiations, RAND (RR-737-OSD), 2014

Christopher Paul, Colin P. Clarke, Chad C. Serena, Mexico is Not Colombia: Historical Analogies for Responding to the Challenge of Violent Drug Trafficking Organizations, RAND (RR-548/1-OSD), 2014

Christopher Paul, Colin P. Clarke, Beth Grill, Molly Dunigan, Paths to Victory: Lessons from Modern Insurgencies, RAND (RR-291/1-OSD), 2014

Christopher Paul, Colin P. Clarke, Beth Grill, Victory Has a Thousand Fathers: Sources of Success in Counterinsurgency, RAND (MG-964-OSD), 2010

Honors & Awards

  • Journal Article of the Year (2013) for "Qualitative Comparative Analysis of 30 Insurgencies, 1978-2008," with Christopher Paul and Beth Grill, Military Operations Research, Volume 17, Number 2, 2012, pp.19-40., Military Operations Research Society (MORS)

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: BBC Radio 5 Live; The Big Bid Theory; CCTV America Online; Channel News Asia; CNBC; Homeland Security Today; Jazeera America; KABC; KNX-AM; KPCC-FM; KQED Radio; Marketplace Radio; Metro.us; MoneyLaundering.com; Newstalk ZB, New Zealand; Quotidiano Nazionale Online; Voice of America; WESA-FM; WWL-NO

Commentary

  • Donald Trump arrives at his election night rally at the New York Hilton Midtown in Manhattan, November 9, 2016

    Can Trump Really Do Deals with Vladimir Putin?

    Russia is a declining economic power whose foreign policy has led to isolation and criticism. But Putin may have an inflated sense of Russia's importance and expect one-sided U.S. concessions. If so, diplomacy could run into headwinds early in the Trump administration.

    Nov 21, 2016 Newsweek

  • Smoke rises during clashes in the town of Bashiqa, east of Mosul, during an operation to attack Islamic State militants in Mosul, Iraq, November 8, 2016

    How Will Jihadist Strategy Evolve As the Islamic State Declines?

    As ISIL experiences ongoing battlefield losses it will have to rework its strategy to sustain itself as a preeminent jihadist brand. Meanwhile, the group will likely place greater emphasis on smaller scale strikes that require less central direction.

    Nov 10, 2016 War on the Rocks

  • A member of the Nusra Front squats in Ariha, Syria, after a coalition of insurgent groups seized the area, May 29, 2015

    Al Nusra Is Stronger Than Ever

    While the West targets ISIS, Jabhat Fateh al Sham, formerly known as Jabhat al Nusra, is quietly laying the groundwork for al Qaeda's resurgence.

    Nov 2, 2016 The Cipher Brief

  • Al Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawahri speaks from an unknown location in a still image taken from video uploaded to the web on June 8, 2011

    Al Qaeda's Ruthless Pragmatism Makes It More Dangerous Than the Islamic State

    Al Qaeda presents a graver long-term threat to the West than the Islamic State. It has proved more effective in exploiting U.S. policy in the Middle East to legitimize itself as an armed force and, increasingly, as a viable political player.

    Oct 27, 2016 Reuters

  • The sun sets over Aleppo, Syria as seen from the rebel-held part of the city, October 5, 2016

    Only the U.S. Can Save Syrians

    Washington must act soon to raise the costs of Syrian and Russian killing in Aleppo. Otherwise, the quarter-million people who live there could be in danger, and the Kremlin might think that it can mount further challenges to the West.

    Oct 6, 2016 USA Today

  • New York City Police Officer Danny Shea salutes at the National September 11 Memorial in New York, September 11, 2011

    September 11: The Day That Changed My Country (and My Career Path) Forever

    New York City native Colin Clarke discusses how terrorism has evolved since the September 11 attacks and how the tragedy motivated him to become a terrorism expert.

    Sep 11, 2016 Fox News Channel

  • Women mourn the death of their relatives after an airstrike in the rebel held Bab al-Nairab neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria, August 25, 2016

    Why Syria's War May Be About to Get Even Worse

    Whether or not Jabhat Fateh al-Sham's new name means a genuine break from its parent organization al Qaeda, the mere rebranding could prolong Syria's civil war. The worst-case scenario is that the group could embed itself within the rebel opposition in Syria the way Hezbollah did in Lebanon.

    Aug 25, 2016 Reuters

  • Syria Democratic Forces fighters inspect a center used by Islamic State religious police in Manbij, Aleppo Governorate, Syria, August 16, 2016

    Demystifying the Islamic State

    To counter the threat posed by the Islamic State group, it is crucial to understand what the terrorist organization is and what it is not. Attributing all jihadist violence to a ruthless gang headquartered in Raqqa exaggerates the power of the group and plays into their propaganda and recruiting efforts.

    Aug 23, 2016 U.S. News & World Report

  • A New York City fireman calls for 10 more rescue workers to make their way into the rubble of the World Trade Center on September 15, 2001

    ISIS vs. Al Qaida: Battle of the Terrorist Brands

    Rather than thinking of defeating terrorists solely in traditional military terms, it might make sense to think of bankrupting them. It might help to consider the factors that cause luxury brands to lose their luster or big box retailers to fail.

    Aug 16, 2016 The National Interest

  • U.S. Marines with their Georgian counterparts preparing for NATO's Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, March 24, 2015

    How Defense Choices Affect Military Readiness

    Because the U.S. cannot afford to prioritize and defend against every possible threat, it must accept risk with each decision. And the more adaptive the adversary, the more likely it will confound readiness investments made previously to confront it.

    Aug 10, 2016 Defense News

  • Staff Sgt. Todd Reinert, a motor transportation operations chief, guides soldiers through shooting drills prior to a live-fire range in Tiguet, Mauritania, Feb. 15, 2016.

    This Is the Problem with Trying to Destroy the Islamic State

    Would counterterrorism forces be better served by containing terrorist groups instead of attempting to destroy them? Dismantling and destroying the Islamic State and similar organizations is a worthy strategic goal, but policymakers must also be prepared to limit the effectiveness of splinter groups as they emerge in the aftermath.

    Jul 12, 2016 The Washington Post Monkey Cage Blog

  • Soldiers from U.S. Army Europe's Charlie Company show Ukrainian Marines and National Guard soldiers the proper procedures for clearing a room, September 16, 2014

    It's Getting Harder to Define Military Readiness. Here's What to Do About It.

    Focusing on one type of threat or the other — whether state or non-state in its general nature — is becoming a less tenable option as the United States considers how to assess and improve its military readiness.

    Jul 12, 2016 Defense One

  • Iraqi counterterrorism forces in Falluja after they recaptured the city from the Islamic State in June 2016

    To Defeat ISIL's Brand, Its Territory Must Be Reclaimed

    ISIL has been forced out of 56 places it once controlled, including five major cities. Taking its territory and diminishing its brand is required to reduce the group's operational capacity for carrying out or influencing local or distant attacks.

    Jul 8, 2016 The National Interest

  • A member of the Peshmerga forces inspects a tunnel used by Islamic State militants in the town of Sinjar, Iraq

    Islamic State May Be Down, but It's Far from Out

    The Islamic State's loss of territory, money, and recruits would seem to demonstrate significant progress by the U.S.-led coalition. But if there is one accepted truism in the battle against the group, it is that its leaders intend to fight to the death to establish an Islamic caliphate.

    May 23, 2016 Reuters

  • Iraqi security forces hold an ISIS flag that they pulled down at the University of Anbar, in Anbar province, July 26, 2015

    In the Event of the Islamic State's Untimely Demise...

    If they haven't already, the Islamic State's leaders will soon formulate a contingency strategy, a Plan B that the West will then be forced to contend with.

    May 11, 2016 Foreign Policy

  • Syrian army soldiers inspect the site of a two bomb blasts in the government-controlled city of Homs, Syria, on February 21, 2016

    A New Kind of Battlefield Awaits the U.S. Military — Megacities

    Megacities are urban areas that seep into one another and have more than 10 million inhabitants. To counter violent non-state actors operating in megacities in the future, the U.S. military will have to be able to piece together a comprehensive and actionable intelligence picture, and under enormously challenging circumstances.

    Apr 6, 2016 Reuters, The Great Debate blog

  • U.S. sailors assigned to Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command monitor, analyze, detect, and respond to unauthorized activity within U.S. Navy information systems and networks

    The Online Fight Against ISIS

    To prevail against ISIS in cyberspace, the United States and its cyber soldiers will have to be capable of reacting quickly, while being guided by an overarching strategy. Secretary of Defense Carter urged U.S. Cyber Command to intensify the fight against ISIS but it would also be wise to recruit civilian volunteers.

    Apr 1, 2016 Project Syndicate

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu at the Kremlin in Moscow, March 14, 2016

    The West Should Accommodate Russia to Secure Peace with Assad in Syria

    Effective and enduring political settlements result from quid pro quos, not irrational pursuit of one-sided advantage. Recognizing that contending parties have legitimate interests in the complex Syria conflict could help bring an end to a destructive war in a volatile but vital region.

    Mar 18, 2016 U.S. News & World Report

  • A civil defence member works at a site after airstrikes by pro-Syrian government forces in the rebel held Douma neighborhood of Damascus, Syria, February 14, 2016

    Is a Syria Truce in Putin's Best Interest?

    Moscow remains ambivalent but the West and its Arab partners could improve cease-fire prospects in Syria. They will have to drive the peace process to maintain pressure for political accommodation and also do more to help the rebels they back avert a military imbalance.

    Feb 18, 2016 Newsweek

  • Closeup of a hand using a digital tablet

    Following Online Footprints to Catch Terrorists

    Millions of people leave behind online footprints each day, giving law enforcement and intelligence experts the chance to construct a profile of who is more likely to commit violence in the name of a murderous ideology.

    Dec 28, 2015 Newsweek

  • A poster of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, and others behind Iranian, Syrian, Lebanese, and Hezbollah flags during Resistance and Liberation Day celebrations in Bint Jbeil, Lebanon, May 25, 2014

    How Global Terror Network Will Get a Boost from Iran Nuclear Deal

    Iranian sponsorship of terrorist organizations cannot be divorced from the negotiations because the sanctions that will be lifted provide new sources of funding to reinforce the Iran threat network. A global strategy to address the Iran threat network is essential to stability in the region.

    Jul 15, 2015 FOX News Channel

  • Members of Kurdish Peshmerga force stand guard at Sulaiman Pek front line, August 31, 2014. Iraqi security forces backed by Shi'ite militias on Sunday broke the two-month siege of Amerli by Islamic State militants.

    A Broad Approach to Countering the Islamic State

    Recent analysis about how to defeat the Islamic State tends to be based on no more than intuition, a general sense of history, or a small number of cases of questionable comparability. A study of 71 historical cases of counterinsurgencies should help provide empirical evidence to this important debate.

    Sep 2, 2014 The Washington Post Monkey Cage Blog

Publications