Christopher S. Chivvis

Associate Director, International Security and Defense Policy Center; Affiliate Faculty, Pardee RAND Graduate School; Senior Political Scientist
Washington Office


Ph.D., Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University

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Chris Chivvis is associate director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center and a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation. He specializes in national security issues in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, including NATO, military interventions, counter-terrorism, and deterrence. He is also an adjunct professor at the Johns Hopkins, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and an affiliate faculty member at Pardee RAND Graduate School.

The author of three scholarly books and several monographs and articles on U.S. foreign and security policy, Chivvis has worked on Eurasian security and NATO-Russia issues in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. He has also held research positions at the French Institute for International Relations (Ifri) in Paris and at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) in Berlin, and taught graduate courses at Johns Hopkins University, New York University, and Sciences Po in Paris.

His work has appeared in The New York TimesForeign Policy, Foreign Affairs, The National InterestSurvival, The Washington Quarterly, The Christian Science, and other leading publications. Chivvis received his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins, SAIS.

Concurrent Non-RAND Positions

Adjunct Professor, Johns Hopkins, SAIS

Previous Positions

TAPIR fellow, French Institute for International Relations (Ifri) and German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), Department of European Studies, Johns Hopkins University

Recent Projects

  • Russia Defense Strategy
  • AUMF: Options for Congress
  • Allied Responses to the Ukraine Crisis
  • Libya's Postconflict Transition
  • Alternative Futures for Strategic Challenges

Selected Publications

Christopher S. Chivvis, "Libya and the Future of Liberal Intervention," Survival, 54(6), 2012

Christopher S. Chivvis, "Quelle orientation futur pour l'Otan," Politique Etrangere, 0(4), 2009

Christopher S. Chivvis, The French War on Al Qa'ida in Africa, Cambridge University Press, 2015

Christopher S. Chivvis, Raphael S. Cohen, Bryan Frederick, Daniel S. Hamilton, F. Stephen Larrabee, Bonny Lin, NATO's Northeastern Flank—Emerging Opportunities for Engagement, RAND (RR-1467), 2016 (forthcoming)

Christopher S. Chivvis and Andrew Liepman, North Africa's Menace: AQIM, RAND (RR-415-OSD), 2013

Christopher S. Chivvis, Toppling Qaddafi, Cambridge University Press, 2013

Christopher S. Chivvis, The Monetary Conservative: Jacques Rueff and Twentieth Century Free Market Thought, Northern Illinois University Press, 2010

Christopher S. Chivvis and Jeffery Martini, Libya After Qaddafi, RAND (RR-577-SRF), 2014

Honors & Awards

  • Gold Medal Award, RAND Corporation
  • Outstanding Achievement Award, Office of the Secretary of Defense


French; German; Spanish

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews:; BBC Radio 5 Live; BBC World News; Bloomberg Radio; CNBC World; C-SPAN, Washington Journal; Defense News TV; france 24: international news 24/7; Here and There, Santa Fe Public Radio; Jazeera America; KPCC-FM; RTE - Prime Time, Ireland; Vice; WBUR (NPR), On Point; Al Jazeera - English

Commentary: The Arab Weekly; Christian Science Monitor; The Cipher Brief; Foreign Affairs; CNN; Foreign Policy; The Hill; International Herald Tribune; The National Interest; The New York Times; U.S. News & World Report; Washington Times


  • President-elect Emmanuel Macron is seen on a giant screen near the Louvre museum in Paris, France, May 7, 2017

    Macron's Fractious France

    Right-wing nationalism is rising in Europe, but Emmanuel Macron's election in France shows that support remains for liberal-democracy and the European Union. But the struggle over France's future is far from over and Macron will need to tackle his country's economic problems head-on.

    May 12, 2017 U.S. News & World Report

  • World map

    Why It's So Hard to Stop a Cyberattack — and Even Harder to Fight Back

    Cyber weapons attack the underlying network or computer systems. The possibility of unexpected effects in the cyber world is therefore greater than in conventional warfare. Not knowing if the effects were intentional complicates the response.

    Mar 30, 2017 Zócalo Public Square and the Berggruen Institute

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a news conference in Moscow, December 23, 2016

    What Americans Need to Know if Russia Intervenes in Libya's Civil War

    Indications that Russia could intervene militarily in Libya's civil war are growing. If it does, the Trump White House will face a tangle of unpleasant choices with far-reaching consequences.

    Mar 26, 2017 Fortune

  • French soldiers from Operation Barkhane stand outside their armored personnel carrier during a sandstorm in Inat, Mali, May 26, 2016

    Mali's Persistent Jihadist Problem

    The 2013 French intervention in Mali averted an al Qaeda-backed thrust toward the capital of Bamako and reduced the threat from other jihadist groups. To ensure that a new threat does not materialize, France will need staying power and support from its allies.

    Jan 12, 2017 The Cipher Brief

  • President Barack Obama talks about cyber hacking during the U.S. presidential election as he holds his final news conference of the year at the White House in Washington, December 16, 2016

    How to Deter Foreign Cyberattacks on U.S. Elections

    Deterring future cyber-meddling in U.S. elections will require convincing adversaries — Russia and others — that any future such meddling will either be ineffective and/or too costly to be worthwhile.

    Jan 5, 2017 United Press International

  • U.S. President Barack Obama gives a thumbs up after his speech at the Rota naval airbase, near Cadiz, Spain, July 10, 2016

    Transatlantic Relations After Obama

    The Obama era will be remembered as the time when America's leadership role in Europe began to shift. Europeans got more freedom of action, but could no longer outsource their foreign and military responsibilities to Washington. Whether Clinton or Trump is elected president, Europe will have to do more.

    Oct 14, 2016 Berlin Policy Journal

  • Russian servicemen on Russian T-90A main battle tanks before a rehearsal for the Victory Day parade, with the Moscow International Business Center also known as Moskva-City in the background, May 5, 2016

    Russia's Determination to Revise the Post-Cold War Order

    As long as political will for military measures to contain and deter Russian aggression remains limited, sustaining sanctions against Russia remains the only option to deal with a nation that is determined to revise the post-Cold War political and economic settlement in Europe in its favor.

    Sep 30, 2016 The Cipher Brief

  • People stand near damaged aid supplies after an airstrike on September 20 on the rebel held Urem al-Kubra town, western Aleppo city, Syria, September 23, 2016

    Time to Bury Plans for Counterterrorism Cooperation with Russia in Syria

    As two recent botched airstrikes indicate, U.S. counterterrorism cooperation with Russia is just too risky and probably wasn't feasible in the first place. There is too little faith between the two countries for meaningful cooperation in this area.

    Sep 23, 2016 The National Interest

  • The aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman transits the Atlantic Ocean on a deployment in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts

    NATO's Russia Problem: The Alliance's Tough Road Ahead Post-Warsaw Summit

    NATO emerged from Warsaw more unified than some had predicted it would, especially after the shock of Brexit. But with strained economies, rising populism, and persistent threats from the East and the South, NATO still faces an uphill battle.

    Jul 13, 2016 The National Interest

  • U.S. President Barack Obama meets with reporters at the NATO Summit in Warsaw, Poland, July 8, 2016

    Obama Must Take a Strong Lead at the NATO Summit

    To overcome differences within NATO and move forward in these troubled times, Obama should go beyond his usual low-key approach, while still working closely with allied leaders.

    Jul 8, 2016 Newsweek

  • Dawn breaks behind the Houses of Parliament and the statue of Winston Churchill in Westminster, London, Britain, June 24, 2016

    The Future of Transatlantic Security

    Without the UK, the EU's military and defense capabilities — including in key areas such as strategic lift, intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, and special forces — are considerably reduced.

    Jun 28, 2016 U.S. News & World Report

  • Russia's and NATO's Defence Ministers at a NATO-Russia defence ministers council at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels, October 23, 2013

    A Risky Move in Brussels

    In the last two years, NATO's relations with Russia have collapsed to their post-Cold War nadir. The decision to convene a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council in Brussels on April 20 has been met with an unusual amount of controversy and could prove to be a mistake.

    Apr 19, 2016 The Cipher Brief

  • The NATO flag flies on a sunny day

    NATO's Southern Exposure: The Real Threats to Europe—and the Alliance

    If NATO fails to define a strategy for its southern challenges (terrorism and the ongoing influx of migrants), it could slip into strategic irrelevance.

    Apr 18, 2016 Foreign Affairs

  • Tunisian soldiers participate in an exercise along the frontier with Libya in Sabkeht Alyun, Tunisia, February 6, 2016

    Use Force to Forge Peace in Libya

    Five years after the uprising against Qaddafi and the civil war that followed, Libya is now home to the second-largest and fastest-growing Islamic State group affiliate outside Iraq and Syria. The U.S. and its allies need to step in to help restore Libyan sovereignty.

    Feb 17, 2016 U.S. News & World Report

  • Libya Dawn fighters watch Islamic State militant positions near Sirte March 19, 2015

    The Three Challenges of Countering ISIS in Libya

    ISIS's expansion in Libya is a threat to the security of Libyans, to the region, and to Europe. U.S. and European cooperation to counter ISIS is essential and Libya is unlikely to ever be peaceful without outside military support.

    Feb 5, 2016 The Arab Weekly

  • Tunisian soldiers and police patrol near Algeria's border in Kasserine, Tunisia July 4, 2015 after an Islamist militant attack on a beach hotel that killed 38 foreigners

    Algeria: The Bastion of North Africa

    Algeria could be a key regional partner for the United States and France in security and counterterrorism efforts against Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. It has a clear interest in quelling the threat posed by regional jihadists and it has local knowledge that could be helpful to U.S. counterterrorism efforts.

    Aug 11, 2015 The National Interest

  • U.S. soldiers rush a building during a platoon live-fire demonstration for Iraqi army trainees and officers on Camp Taji, Iraq, Feb. 5, 2015

    An Authorization for the Fight Against the Islamic State

    The U.S. military is conducting some 2,000 airstrikes a month against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria but progress is slow and the terrorist group has expanded far beyond those two countries. Congress needs now more than ever to take up the issue of authorizing the use of military force.

    Jul 9, 2015 The Hill

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin at the opening of the Army-2015 international military forum in Kubinka, Russia, June 16, 2015

    The Baltic Balance: How to Reduce the Chances of War in Europe

    Recent announcements of increased U.S. military support in the Baltics are a positive step in addressing a major new challenge to European security.

    Jul 2, 2015 Foreign Affairs

  • Libyan Police prepare during the start of a security plan to increase security in Tripoli, February 9, 2015

    Somalia on the Mediterranean

    Libya is as vulnerable to further inroads by ISIS now as Syria was a year ago. What can the United States and its allies do to stop the hemorrhaging? Many options have been debated, but none look very promising.

    Feb 19, 2015 Foreign Policy

  • Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President Ronald Reagan sign the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty in the White House on December 8, 1987

    The Difference Between Negotiation and Appeasement

    Sound diplomacy weighs costs and benefits, based on a hard-nosed evaluation of American interests and values. It makes concessions only in exchange for concrete gains, but it still requires flexibility and willingness to trade, bargain, and make deals, including with adversaries. This is not the same thing as appeasement.

    Jan 22, 2015 The Hill

  • A board displays currency exchange rates on a Moscow street, December 29, 2014

    Rapprochement with Russia?

    The ruble's fragility presents an opportunity for American and European diplomats to offer Putin a deal that de-escalates the war in Ukraine, provides Russia sanctions relief, and revitalizes Moscow's economic ties with the West.

    Dec 30, 2014 The New York Times

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to the media after talks with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in August 2014

    Putting Putin in His Place

    Developing an effective and sustainable strategy to deal with the multi-layered problem that Putin's Russia has created requires deterring Russia while also engaging it. The U.S. and Europe should have confidence that they are up to the task.

    Nov 26, 2014 U.S. News & World Report

  • French President Francois Hollande arrives at the Elysee Palace in Paris to speak about French airstrikes in Iraq against Islamic State militants, September 19, 2014

    Does France Have the Master Plan to Defeat ISIS?

    In Mali, France stopped jihadists from taking over, ejected them from the country almost entirely, and struck a major blow to their ability to threaten France and the region. This success story provides important lessons for the U.S. debate about how to deal with ISIS.

    Sep 24, 2014 The National Interest

  • Members of the United Nations Security Council vote on a resolution about the ongoing crisis in Iraq at UN headquarters in New York

    Foreign Fighters Are a Global Threat

    The threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters cannot be resolved by the United States, or any ally, working alone. It calls for broad international cooperation on law enforcement, intelligence sharing and other areas for many years to come.

    Aug 25, 2014 U.S. News & World Report

  • U.S. President Barack Obama waves after delivering a speech at Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, Belgium March 26, 2014

    What Can Obama's $1 Billion Investment in European Security Actually Buy?

    If the attention to the challenge posed by Russia dwindles as the immediate crisis in Ukraine fades out of the headlines, the problem will only get worse and more costly. A $1 billion investment will not solve the problem itself, but it's an important step in the right direction.

    Jun 9, 2014 Foreign Policy

  • Russia's President Vladimir Putin welcomes China's President Xi Jinping before the first working session of the G20 Summit in near St. Petersburg, Sept. 5, 2013

    Why Ukraine Crisis Has China in a Bind

    As much as China may wish to lean on Russia should Beijing find itself at odds with the United States, Xi seeks a new type of great power relationship with the United States that calls for mutual respect, no confrontation, and cooperation.

    Apr 16, 2014 CNN

  • French sailors assigned to the French aircraft carrier FS Charles de Gaulle observe an aircraft recovery cycle aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman

    The End of Freedom Fries

    As embattled French president François Hollande prepares for his state visit to Washington next week, defense cooperation is sure to be a bright spot on the agenda—especially when it comes to emerging security challenges in Africa.

    Feb 7, 2014 The National Interest

  • Libya's Prime Minister Ali Zeidan addresses a news conference after his release on October 10

    Libya Needs Outside Help to Avoid Perpetual War

    If steps are not taken to get control of security, there is little hope for Libya's future. Qaddafi's fateful warning that Libya would become a “Somalia on the Mediterranean” without him could come true. The investment that NATO and its partners made in toppling Qaddafi would then be almost entirely wasted.

    Oct 11, 2013 Christian Science Monitor

  • Norway's newly elected prime minister Erna Solberg

    Could Norway Be Key to a Future Syria Strike?

    If Syrian acceptance of the Russia-backed plan that is supposed to see it give up its chemical weapons turns out to be a stalling tactic — as many believe it is — support for strikes from allies like Norway will be all the more important to the White House, writes Christopher S. Chivvis.

    Sep 26, 2013 CNN

  • Europeans with 'No Arms for Assad' signs

    Europe Keeps Its Options Open in Syria

    France and Britain say they are not planning any arms shipments at this time. The decision thus seems unlikely to have a significant impact on the ground in the near term, writes Christopher Chivvis.

    May 30, 2013 U.S. News & World Report

  • Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and U.S. President Barack Obama arrive for a joint news conference in the White House Rose Garden in Washington, May 16, 2013

    Turkey and Intervention in Syria

    When President Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan meet in Washington on May 16, a long list of topics will likely be on the table. The big question, however, is whether anything substantive comes from their discussions of Syria.

    May 15, 2013 The RAND Blog

  • Libyans poured into the streets of Benghazi to celebrate the revolution

    Libya Needs U.S. Help for Security

    By adopting a laissez-faire policy toward security in Libya after the war, the United States and its allies who helped the Libyan rebels topple Gadhafi share in the responsibility for the country’s current predicament, writes Christopher Chivvis.

    May 13, 2013 CNN

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Kerry and Syrian Opposition Council Chairman Mouaz al-Khatib during Kerry's 2013 Middle East visit

    The Risks of an Excess of Caution in Syria

    Syria is looking more like a collapsed state every day. Nearly a million people have now fled Syria for safety abroad. Meanwhile, the influence of extremist groups, such as the al Nusrah Front, continues to grow as these groups slip into the areas vacated by the Syrian state.

    Mar 29, 2013 The RAND Blog

  • U.S. soldier provides pens to Iraqi boy

    Unlearning the Lessons of Iraq

    Trepidation about boots-on-the-ground engagement has unnecessarily forestalled even small-scale efforts to repair Libya's fractured security environment....Meanwhile, in Syria, the over-learned lessons of Iraq are taking an even more serious toll, writes Christopher Chivvis.

    Mar 14, 2013 U.S. News & World Report

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov prior to their bilateral meeting in Berlin, Germany, February 26, 2013

    The Russia Gambit

    Unless he can convince allies like Turkey as well as skeptics like Russia that the United States is serious about altering the trajectory of the conflict, Kerry might as well skip the Syria talking points and focus on other issues.

    Feb 26, 2013 Foreign Policy

  • A man waves a Libyan flag during celebrations commemorating the second anniversary of the February 17 revolution in Tripoli February 17, 2013

    Anxious Whispers in Tripoli

    The clock is ticking for Libya's future, writes Christopher Chivvis. Libya's government is dysfunctional, armed militias control much of the country, and the population is increasingly frustrated with the pace of postwar progress.

    Feb 18, 2013 on February 18, 2013 and in International Herald Tribune

  • streets in Tripoli decorated for the second anniversary of the revolution against Qaddafi's regime

    NATO, US Must Shore Up Libya

    A smaller-scale training mission to help the Libyan government build reliable forces that will answer to the country's elected leadership would do much to help the Libyan state get control over its own territory, writes Christopher Chivvis.

    Feb 15, 2013 Christian Science Monitor

  • French soldiers prepare for their departure for Mali on January 25, 2013

    Foreign Intervention in Mali Is Libya in Reverse

    France is in Mali not just to prop up a failing state in French Africa, but because Mali was becoming a magnet for jihadis from around the world and Paris rightly feared the country could become the next Afghanistan—only much closer to Europe, writes Christopher Chivvis.

    Jan 25, 2013 U.S. News & World Report

  • A Patriot missile is launched by soldiers at McGregor Range near El Paso, Texas

    Turkey Edges Toward Seeking NATO Support in Syria Crisis

    As the crisis along the border between Syria and Turkey intensifies, Turkey appears on the brink of a formal request to the North Atlantic Council that NATO deploy Patriot missiles to help defend the border, writes Christopher Chivvis.

    Nov 21, 2012 The RAND Blog

  • Libyans in Zawiya celebrating one-year anniversary of anti-Qadhafi uprising

    The Challenges of Libya's Post-Qadhafi Transition

    Libya should remain in charge of its own post-conflict path, but it needs the help of external actors to succeed with its transition, writes Christopher Chivvis.

    Oct 26, 2012 U.S. News & World Report

  • Libyan children at a refugee camp hold up a sign with revolutionary slogans

    Libya and the Future of Liberal Intervention

    As a case of military intervention, Libya does not tell us much about how useful the lower-cost, lighter footprint adopted there can be under more challenging conditions, or when the objective is broader and more transformational, as was the case at the outset in Iraq and Afghanistan, writes Christopher S. Chivvis.

    Oct 12, 2012 The RAND Blog and Survival

  • a car exploding

    Libya's Downward Spiral

    Libya is neither Iraq nor Afghanistan, let alone Somalia. It has much going for it that these post-conflict cases did not, including relatively unified citizens, wealth, a neighborhood comparatively conducive to stability, and a clear victory over the former regime, writes Christopher Chivvis.

    Sep 14, 2012 Foreign Policy

  • two Libyans sitting in front of Gaddafi graffiti

    Violence in Libya Leaves Unanswered Questions

    Qaddafi is gone, but if violence spreads, it could call into question the no-footprint post-conflict model that the United States and its allies chose after last year's intervention, writes Christopher S. Chivvis.

    Sep 12, 2012 The RAND Blog

  • Women voting at the 2012 Libyan elections

    A Year After the Fall of Tripoli, Libya Still Fragile

    The countries that helped topple Moammar Gadhafi a year ago have a special obligation to ensure the new Libyan government gets all the help it needs to respond to these new threats effectively, writes Christopher Chivvis.

    Aug 23, 2012 CNN

  • What It Would Take to Intervene in Syria

    Despite the pressure to do something, a realistic military option with a prospect of having a significant positive impact on the crisis has yet to emerge with Syria, writes Christopher Chivvis.

    Jul 27, 2012 and

  • Three Challenges Still Await NATO

    Three challenges still await NATO: containing fallout from France's new policy, re-opening the Pakistan supply lines, and the need for Russian cooperation, writes Christopher S. Chivvis.

    May 24, 2012 and

  • An Open Door in Libya

    The days and weeks after a victory like this are a golden hour that set in motion either a virtuous cycle of increasing security and economic growth, or a downward spiral into insecurity, factionalism and economic chaos, write Christopher S. Chivvis and Frederic Wehrey.

    Oct 20, 2011 CNN

  • Europe's Empty Promises

    American frustration with Europe's dwindling military capabilities is reaching new heights, as was clear in a speech by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates at the National Defense University on Tuesday, writes Christopher S. Chivvis.

    Feb 24, 2010

  • The Fall of the Wall: A World Restored?

    The fall of the Berlin Wall retains its status as an epoch-making event inmodern world history, even as it passes from recent into truly historical memory, writes Christopher Chivvis.

    Nov 10, 2009

  • Biden's Task in Eastern Europe: Reassurance

    After the decision to cancel missile defense plans in Poland and the Czech Republic, the US needs to do more than damage control to soothe ties there, write F. Stephen Larrabee and Christopher Chivvis.

    Oct 20, 2009 The Christian Science Monitor

  • The Right Move in Europe: Improved Opportunities with NATO, Russia

    The Obama administration's decision to alter course on missile defense was the right choice. Those who claim it is a capitulation to Russia are wrong, writes Christopher S. Chivvis.

    Sep 22, 2009 The Washington Times

  • European Union at Cross Purposes in Kosovo

    Of all the international actors involved in Kosovo right now, the European Union has by far the most at stake. It is also in the strongest position to remedy the situation. Sadly, it is too divided over Kosovo's declaration of independence over a year ago to take effective action, writes Christopher Chivvis.

    Apr 27, 2009

  • Leaving the Nest

    In the wake of President Obama's recent European trip, hopes for a rejuvenation of transatlantic security cooperation continue to rise. This means resolving some old problems and avoiding new pitfalls, writes Christopher S. Chivvis.

    Apr 17, 2009 The National Interest

  • Challenges Ahead for the EU's Security and Defense Policy

    On its 10th anniversary, the European Union can look back on its Security and Defense Policy (ESDP) with some sense of accomplishment. But the next 10 years may prove more difficult, writes Christopher S. Chivvis.

    Jan 16, 2009

  • Pro-American Yes, French Poodle No

    Pro-American Yes, French Poodle No, in International Herald Tribune on May 7, 2007.

    May 7, 2007 International Herald Tribune