Trevor Johnston

Trevor Johnston
Political Scientist


Ph.D. in political science, University of Michigan; B.A. in political science, UCLA


Trevor Johnston is a political scientist at the RAND Corporation studying international security and the political economy of conflict. His current work focuses on issues related to deterrence and escalation, joint warfighting and force planning, ally and partner relationships, and conflict dynamics and peacebuilding. From September 2021 to September 2023, Johnston was on a temporary assignment to the Department of Defense (DoD), where he served as a senior strategic advisor in the Office of Strategy and Force Development. During his time at DoD, Johnston was a member of the 2022 National Defense Strategy (NDS) core team and later supported NDS implementation, analytic enterprise reform, and scenario planning.

Before coming to RAND, Johnston studied authoritarian regime dynamics, conflict, and structural reforms in the Middle East. From 2015 to 2017, Johnston was a Middle East Initiative Fellow in the Belfer Center at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Selected Publications

Watts, Stephen, Johnston, Trevor, Lane, Matthew, Mann, Sean, McNerney, Michael J. and Brooks, Andrew, Building security in Africa: an evaluation of U.S. security sector assistance in Africa from the Cold War to the present, (RR-2447), 2018

O'Mahony, Angela, Miranda Priebe, Bryan Frederick, Jennifer Kavanagh, Matthew Lane, Trevor Johnston, Trevor, Thomas S. Szayna, Jakub Hlavka, Stephen Watts, and Matthew Povlock, U.S. presence and the incidence of conflict, (RR-1906), 2018

Johnston, Trevor, "Authoritarian Abdication: Bargaining Power and the Role of Firms in Migrant Welfare," Studies in Comparative International Development, 2017

Diop, Abdoulaye, Trevor Johnston, Kien Trung Le, Yaojun Li, "Donating Time or Money? The Effects of Religiosity and Social Capital on Civic Engagement in Qatar," Social Indicators Research, 2017

Diop, Abdoulaye, Trevor Johnston, and Kien Le Trung, "Economic Interest and the Support for Immigration Reform: A Survey Experiment from Qatar," Journal of Arabian Studies




  • Yemen

    Congressional Options to Advance Peace in Yemen

    An enduring peace in Yemen will require addressing Yemen's most immediate needs while working to develop its economic, political, and security institutions. U.S. lawmakers have the tools to help shape this effort and could help end the conflict and bring stability to Yemen.

    Mar 29, 2021

    The Hill

  • Yemen

    Pathways Toward Peace in Yemen: National Reconciliation or a 'Phased' Approach?

    Any pathway to an enduring peace in Yemen could take decades to recover from the economic, political, and social costs of this civil war. A phased approach could require patience from the Yemeni people and a robust and enduring commitment from the international community. But war has brought Yemen to this point, and there are few remaining options.

    Mar 5, 2021

    The RAND Blog

  • Yemen

    Yemen's Chaos Creates a New Opportunity for the Biden-Harris Team

    More than one-quarter million Yemenis have been killed in the nation's civil war. And 150,000 children have died from starvation and left Yemen on the brink of collapse. The foundations of peace must be Yemeni-led, but there is much that the new U.S. administration could do to support the process.

    Nov 24, 2020

    The National Interest

  • Emerging Technologies

    Downloadable Guns and Other 3-D Printing Security Threats

    Americans may soon be able to legally access blueprints for 3D-printed guns. The growing opposition to these weapons shows that potential security threats do not have to be inevitable. The security challenges inherent in 3D printing could be addressed, while the development of industry norms can still be shaped.

    Jul 31, 2018

    Fox News Channel