Edward Geist

Edward Geist
Policy Researcher; Professor of Policy Analysis, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Santa Monica Office


Ph.D. in history, University of North Carolina; M.A. in history, University of North Carolina; B.A. in history, William & Mary College

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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Edward Geist is a policy researcher at RAND and a professor of policy analysis at Pardee RAND Graduate School. His research interests include Russia (primarily defense policy), civil defense, artificial intelligence, nuclear weapons, and the potential impact of emerging technologies on nuclear strategy. He was formerly a MacArthur Nuclear Security Fellow at Stanford's Center for International Security and Cooperation and a Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow at RAND. His book Armageddon Insurance: Civil Defense in the United States and Soviet Union, 1945–1991, was published by University of North Carolina Press in 2019. Geist received his Ph.D. in history from the University of North Carolina in 2013.

Selected Publications

Edward Geist "Why Reasoning Under Uncertainty Is Hard for Both Machines and People — and an Approach to Address the Problem," in The RAND Corporation, Adaptive Engagement for Undergoverned Spaces: Concepts, Challenges, and Prospects for New Approaches, RAND Corporation (RR-A1275-1), 2022

Honors & Awards

  • Strategy and Policy Fellowship, Smith Richardson Foundation



Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: indy100; National Public Radio; New Scientist; New York Magazine; War and Peace


  • Russia

    Is Putin Irrational? What Nuclear Strategic Theory Says About Deterrence of Potentially Irrational Opponents

    Increasingly isolated and desperate, Putin might try to suddenly escalate the Ukraine conflict rather than back down in the face of international opposition. The United States and its allies must account for the possibility that even in the face of credible deterrent threats Putin might double down and lash out.

    Mar 8, 2022

    The RAND Blog

  • Dispute Resolution

    Nuclear Strategists Know How Dangerous the Debt Fight Is

    Nuclear-war strategists' work offers a warning for Congress: The more times a game is played, the more treacherous it becomes, because when both sides believe catastrophe will always be averted in the end, each behaves more rashly. In the debt-ceiling dispute, the United States could end up defaulting precisely because each side keeps waiting for the other to blink.

    Nov 29, 2021

    The Atlantic

  • Military Strategy

    The U.S. Doesn't Need More Nuclear Weapons to Counter China's New Missile Silos

    There's little reason for the United States to worry much about whatever the Chinese military is building in hundreds of new missile silos in China. America and its allies have ways to counter any threats these silo fields pose.

    Oct 18, 2021

    The Washington Post

  • Military Strategy

    Defeat Is Possible

    If the United States is to have a reasonable hope of winning a war, it needs to think about what it would be like to lose. An essential first step could be to start taking the prospect of protracted near-peer conflict seriously.

    Jun 17, 2021

    War on the Rocks

  • Artificial Intelligence

    Military Deception: AI's Killer App?

    Contrary to the promise that AI would deliver an omniscient view of everything happening in the battlespace—the goal of U.S. military planners for decades—it now appears that technologies of misdirection are winning. Military deception, in short, could prove to be AI’s killer app.

    Oct 23, 2019

    War on the Rocks

  • Artificial Intelligence

    Will Artificial Intelligence Undermine Nuclear Stability?

    In the coming years, AI-enabled progress in tracking and targeting adversaries' nuclear weapons could undermine the foundations of nuclear stability. Will AI someday be able to guide strategy decisions about escalation or even launching nuclear weapons?

    May 1, 2018

    Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists