John V. Parachini

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Senior International and Defense Researcher, former Director of RAND National Defense Research Institute's Intelligence Policy Center; Affiliate Faculty, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Washington Office


M.B.A., Georgetown University; M.A. in international relations, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University; B.A. in philosophy, Haverford College

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John Parachini is a senior international and defense researcher, the former director of the RAND Intelligence Policy Center, and a member of the Pardee RAND Graduate School faculty. His primary areas of research include intelligence, terrorism, weapons proliferation and arms control. He has led RAND projects on the future of the Director of National Intelligence; military use of Open Source Intelligence; emerging technologies; terrorists' interest in and acquisition of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons; foreign terrorist fighter adaptations to counter measures; scenario development for planning; and Russian conventional arms sales.

Parachini has testified before both houses of Congress and published articles on terrorism and weapons proliferation in the Washington Quarterly, Arms Control Today, RAND Review, The Nonproliferation Review, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, PrismLos Angeles TimesSan Francisco Chronicle, Newsday, USA Today and International Herald Tribune.

Previously, Parachini served as the executive director of the Washington office of the Monterey Institute of International Studies’ Center for Nonproliferation Studies. Before that, he was a senior associate at the Henry L. Stimson Center, where he focused on nonproliferation and arms control issues. He also served in short assignments at the U.S. State Department.

Parachini has taught at Georgetown University, the University of Southern California Washington Policy Center, and the City University of New York’s Baruch College.

Parachini holds a B.A. in philosophy from Haverford College; an M.A. in international relations from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University; and an M.B.A. from Georgetown University.

Previous Positions

Executive Director, Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies; Senior Associate, Henry L. Stimson Center

Recent Projects

  • Strategic Warning: Organizing and Managing the Mission for the Current Era
  • Foreign Fighters and Adaptations to Countermeasures
  • Advancing USMC OSINT Capabilities: Leveraging Intelligence Community Best Practices
  • Factors Shaping North Korea's Thinking on Deterrence, Coercion, Escalation and Conflict Termination
  • Identifying Emerging Technologies and New Uses of Existing Technologies

Selected Publications

Cortney Weinbaum, John V. Parachini, Richard S. Girven, Michael H. Decker, Richard C. Baffa, Perspective and Opportunities in Intelligence for U.S. Leaders (PE-287-OSD)

Brian A. Jackson et al., Breaching the Fortress Wall: Understanding Terrorist Efforts to Overcome Defensive Technologies, RAND Corporation (MG-481), 2007

Brian A. Jackson et al., Aptitude for Destruction, Vol. 2: Case Studies of Organizational Learning in Five Terrorist Groups, RAND Corporation (MG-331), 2005

Sara A. Daly et al., Aum Shinrikyo, Al Qaeda and the Kinshasa Reactor: Implications of Three Case Studies for Combating Nuclear Terrorism, RAND Corporation (DB-458), 2005

John Parachini et al., Diversion of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Weapons Expertise from the Former Soviet Union: Understanding an Evolving Problem, RAND Corporation (DB-457), 2005

David Aaron, ed., Three Years After: Next Steps in the War on Terror, RAND Corporation (CF-212), 2005



Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: Agence France Press; Australian Financial Review; BBC; Boston Globe; CBS; Christian Science Monitor; CNN; Congressional Quarterly; Dallas Morning News; Fox; MSNBC; National Journal; NPR; Reuters; St. Petersburg Times (FL); Toronto Star; Voice of America;; WTOP


  • A Pantsir-S surface-to-air missile system fires a missile during the International Army Games 2017 outside Astrakhan, Russia, August 5, 2017, photo by Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

    Drone-Era Warfare Shows the Operational Limits of Air Defense Systems

    External powers have intervened in the civil wars in Libya and Syria, supplying advanced conventional weapons that have intensified the conflicts. But not all of the weapons have performed as claimed.

    Jul 2, 2020 RealClearDefense

  • A Yakovlev Yak-130 combat trainer aircraft performs during the International Army Games 2016, in Dubrovichi outside Ryazan, Russia, August 5, 2016, photo by Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

    Spending Smart or Spending Big: The Value of Systematic Assessments of Weapons Procurement

    Considering the COVID-19 pandemic and inevitable economic difficulties, national governments should be encouraged to weigh their military requirements in a more cost-effective manner. Countries need to think strategically about the life cycle costs of equipment, not just the original purchase price.

    Jun 8, 2020 The RAND Blog

  • Mi-17 helicopters fly in formation during military exercises at the firing ground Koktal in Almaty Region, Kazakhstan, May 3, 2019, photo  by Pavel Mikheyev/Reuters

    Are Military Purchases in SE Asia for Political Balancing a Good Use of National Defense Resources?

    The Philippines has embarked upon a multi-phase, multi-year modernization of its armed forces, but some of the acquisition decisions appear to be driven by political symbolism rather than responsible military decisions. Using military procurement for political symbolism and paying a high price for it takes resources away from other pressing national security and domestic needs.

    May 7, 2020 Asian Military Review

  • The S-400 Triumph surface to air missile system after deployment at a military base near Kaliningrad, Russia, March 11, 2019, photo by Vitaly Nevar/Reuters

    Russian S-400 Surface-to-Air Missile System: Is It Worth the Sticker Price?

    Many countries do not fully appreciate that effective air defense requires a networked system and not just one missile system component. Getting the true defensive value out of the S-400 surface-to-air system requires additional components that add costs and complexities.

    May 6, 2020 The RAND Blog

  • A tank is seen as fighters from Libyan forces allied with the U.N.-backed government take position during a battle with Islamic State militants in Sirte, Libya, September 22, 2016

    Keep Chemical Weapons Out of Terrorist Hands

    As the Islamic State group and the Nusra Front seized territory in Syria and northern Iraq, they came upon military sites with chemical munitions and industrial facilities with toxic chemicals. Reducing such opportunities should be a priority.

    Sep 27, 2016 U.S. News & World Report

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov shake hands following their meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, September 9, 2016

    Syria Cease-Fire Should Ban Chemical Weapons

    The United States and Russia negotiated an agreement to suspend fighting in Syria and get relief supplies to trapped civilians. They should not miss an opportunity to regularly and forcefully draw a red line on the use of toxic chemicals as weapons.

    Sep 15, 2016 USA Today

  • Arab Spring, not Osama bin Laden's Fall, Will Determine Middle East's Fate

    The unanswered question is just what will endure in the Arab world: comparatively peaceful demonstrations leading to regime change, or brutal tactics by authoritarian regimes to crush dissent and cling to power, writes John Parachini.

    May 9, 2011 Christian Science Monitor

  • A Bottom-Up Peace in Afghanistan

    The Afghan government has embarked on a high-stakes gamble: Try to negotiate with the leaders of the various insurgent networks to end the nine-year-old Afghan war, write Wali Shaaker and John Parachini.

    Jul 15, 2010 Providence Journal

  • Rereading the Duelfer Report

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Nov 15, 2004 International Herald Tribune

  • Iraq's Had Time to Really Hide Its Weapons Sites

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Sep 19, 2002 Newsday

  • Deny Victory to Anthrax Terrorists

    By keeping in mind the modest scope of the anthrax attacks and not overreacting, we deny the perpetrators of these attacks their objective of terrorizing us into doing what they want us to do. These anthrax cases do, however, highlight some areas for improvement in America's response that can help reduce fear and anxiety, thereby denying the terrorists their objective.

    Oct 17, 2001 International Herald Tribune

  • Religion Isn't Sole Motive of Terror

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Sep 16, 2001 Los Angeles Times