Colin P. Clarke

Photo of Colin Clarke
Associate Political Scientist
Pittsburgh Office


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

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Colin P. Clarke is an associate political scientist at the RAND Corporation, where his research focuses on insurgency/counterinsurgency, unconventional/irregular/asymmetric warfare (including cyber) and a range of other national and international security issues and challenges. From a methodological standpoint, he is interested in measurement, assessment, and evaluation, from tactical to strategic. 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. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of Pittsburgh, where he teaches courses on international organized crime and threat finance. At Carnegie Mellon University, Clarke teaches contemporary comparative political systems and diplomacy and statecraft (with a focus on U.S. foreign and security policy and American grand strategy). 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 recently completed Terrorism, Inc.: The Financing of Terrorism, Insurgency, and Irregular Warfare, published in 2015 by Praeger Security International.

Clarke 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

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)


  • 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