Michael J. Mazarr

Senior Political Scientist
Washington Office

Education

Ph.D. in public policy, University of Maryland; MA in security studies, Georgetown University; BA in government, Georgetown University

Overview

Michael J. Mazarr is a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation. He comes to RAND from the U.S. National War College where he was professor and associate dean of academics. He has also worked in research institutes, on Capitol Hill, and as a special assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. His primary interests are U.S. defense policy and force structure, East Asian security, nuclear weapons and deterrence, and judgment and decisionmaking under uncertainty. Mazarr holds a Ph.D. in public policy from the University of Maryland.

Commentary

  • A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer is joined by Republic of Korea air force F-15s, during a 10-hour mission from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, into Japanese airspace and over the Korean Peninsula, July 30, 2017

    On North Korea, Past Foreign Policy Fiascoes Show U.S. What Not to Do

    Foreign policy disasters are often the sum of two basic errors: embracing exaggerated claims about the need to act, and inventing a conceptual magic wand to wish away potential consequences. Both are apparent in U.S. policy toward North Korea's nuclear aspirations.

    Oct 5, 2017 CNN

  • U.S. President Donald Trump is shown on a large screen as he addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 19, 2017

    The Multilateral Order Makes America Stronger

    Skeptics have suggested that U.S. interests and support for the international community are somehow mutually exclusive. In fact, international institutions, rules, and norms have mostly worked in the U.S. interest, not against it. The Trump administration has an opportunity to build on that record with a strong agenda of reform and support.

    Sep 26, 2017 U.S. News & World Report

  • Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif greets United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the U.N. headquarters in New York City, July 17, 2017

    How We Can Keep Iran from Becoming the Next North Korea

    The United States brokered an agreement to constrain North Korea's nuclear program 25 years ago, but hard-liners abandoned it with vague intentions of coercing the North into something better. They never did, and now a runaway North Korean program poses real danger. This offers a powerful reason to preserve the Iran nuclear deal.

    Aug 22, 2017 Fortune

  • A passerby walks past a street monitor showing news of North Korea's fresh threat in Tokyo, Japan, August 9, 2017

    Contain, Deter, Transform: A Winning Strategy on North Korea

    North Korea's missile tests and reported progress in nuclear warhead design have produced a volatile new urgency in U.S. policy. Contain, deter, and transform isn't a radical solution, but it's one that has worked before. This approach could preserve U.S. interests while avoiding war.

    Aug 9, 2017 The Hill

  • A row of flags from various countries

    U.S. Interests and World Community

    Evidence shows that many countries consider themselves part of an emerging global community. This represents America's most potent competitive advantage. U.S. strategy is stronger when it works to reflect and build such a community.

    Jun 14, 2017 The Cipher Brief

  • China's President Xi Jinping watches during a gift handover ceremony at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, January 18, 2017

    China's Opportunity—and Ours

    A pivotal moment could be nearing for China's global role and its relationship with the United States. And America may be able to seize a historic opportunity to test Beijing's willingness to act as the co-sponsor of a stable world order.

    Feb 19, 2017 U.S. News & World Report

  • President Richard M. Nixon meeting in the Oval Office with Vice President Gerald R. Ford, Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, and Chief of Staff Alexander Haig, 1973

    The World Has Passed the Old Grand Strategies By

    The international order is in the midst of an epochal shift, and a new administration will have to rethink basic organizing concepts for America's role in the world. The truth about grand strategy today is that the United States badly needs new options.

    Oct 5, 2016 War on the Rocks

  • President Vladimir Putin speaks during an award ceremony marking the Day of Russia at the Kremlin in Moscow, June 12, 2016

    Russia and America: The World Is Big Enough for Both of Us

    The United States' approach to Russia — and any other great power — over the coming decade will ultimately be more effective if grounded in the rules, norms, and institutions that have come to characterize the postwar global system.

    Jun 23, 2016 The National Interest

  • International flags

    Will the New President Risk the Stability of the World?

    America's next leader will confront one of the most profound tasks of any post-war U.S. president: reimagining a threatened international order. Mishandled, the challenge could throw world politics into a tailspin. Done right, it could help keep the peace for another half-century.

    Jun 1, 2016 Newsweek

  • U.S. soldiers maneuver using concealment at the National Training Center on Fort Irwin, California

    Presence vs. Warfighting: A Looming Dilemma in Defense Planning

    Presence involves global military deployments to counter potential aggressors, reassure allies, underwrite extended deterrence, build partner capacity, and more. It is now as important, in terms of its stabilizing and deterrent effect, as warfighting capabilities. Yet U.S. force posture falls short.

    Apr 26, 2016 War on the Rocks

  • Russian servicemen walk in formation as they take part in a rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade in the Crimean port of Sevastopol, April 16, 2015

    The Strange Debates of Strategy

    The United States and its allies confront a specific form of statecraft; not new, in all its characteristics, but real and relevant. And most observers who have looked at the problem tend to agree that the U.S. is ill-prepared for such tactics, in part because it simply has not thought of them as a coherent approach worthy of a tailored response.

    Jan 14, 2016 War on the Rocks

  • Uniformed men, believed to be Russian servicemen, march outside a Ukrainian military base, March 5, 2014

    Struggle in the Gray Zone and World Order

    Recent experience suggests that the targets of gray zone campaigns recognize them for what they are — aggressive efforts to overturn the status quo. Gray zone aggression often prompts exactly the sort of reactions it's meant to avoid.

    Dec 22, 2015 War on the Rocks

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu arriving for the opening of the Army-2015 international military forum in Kubinka, Russia, June 16, 2015

    We Face a New, Dangerous Age of Nuclear Weapons Rivalry

    Escalating competition among major powers is amplifying the role of nuclear weapons in defense policies, including more easily used — and thus especially dangerous — tactical nuclear forces. Before it becomes too late, the U.S. should design and lead a new campaign to control nuclear risk.

    Jul 16, 2015 Newsweek

  • U.S. Army Soldiers walk through a market in Ebnkathwer, Iraq, March 3, 2010

    Land Power and a Third Offset Through a Wide-Angle Lens

    The so-called 'third offset' is intended to guide U.S. defense strategy. The right way to view it is as part of a comprehensive vision for competitive advantage, one in which land power, often minimized in offset analyses, can play a central role.

    May 21, 2015 War on the Rocks

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, brief reporters at the Pentagon on April 16, 2015

    Fixes for Risk Assessment in Defense

    Defense Department approaches to risk management could be improved if they focused on complex strategic judgments — questions on which information is imperfect, dozens of variables interact in nonlinear ways, and human choice and agency generate unpredictable patterns.

    Apr 22, 2015 War on the Rocks

  • Secretary of Defense Ash Carter speaks to Pentagon personnel, February 19, 2015

    Rethinking Risk in Defense

    The way the United States uses risk in national security has too often been ill-defined and misleading. The country needs a more focused and precise understanding of risk at the highest levels. In the process of developing one, risk processes should be judged by how they contribute to the making of effective strategy.

    Apr 20, 2015 War on the Rocks

  • Platoon leaders and platoon sergeants marching during the Headhunter leadership challenge at Fort Hood, Texas, Aug. 15, 2014

    The Most Enduring Lesson: People

    Given the complex, technology-heavy, and conceptually-nuanced environment of today's military, the quality of military personnel is the dominant form of competitive advantage. All the services today place maintaining a high-quality force at the top of their list of priorities.

    Apr 10, 2015 Army Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Magazine

  • U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in Washington, January 20, 2015

    The Pros and Cons of Obama's Restraint

    The signal achievement of the Obama foreign policy — fully on display in the new National Security Strategy — has been to avoid further missteps and lay the groundwork for progress by husbanding U.S. power, restoring the economic foundations of influence, and repairing the U.S. global image.

    Feb 6, 2015 U.S. News & World Report

Publications