Barry Posen | People

Barry Posen
Ford International Professor of Political Science


BARRY R. POSEN is Ford International Professor of Political Science at MIT, Director Emeritus of the MIT Security Studies Program, and serves on the Executive Committee of Seminar XXI ( He is the author of, Restraint: A New Foundation for U.S. Grand Strategy, (Cornell University Press 2014), Inadvertent Escalation: Conventional War and Nuclear Risks (Cornell University Press 1991), and The Sources of Military Doctrine (Cornell University Press 1984 ). The latter won two awards: The American Political Science Association's Woodrow Wilson Foundation Book Award, and Ohio State University's Edward J. Furniss Jr. Book Award. He is also the author of numerous articles, including "Europe Can Defend Itself," Survival, December 2020, "The Rise of Illiberal Hegemony--Trump's Surprising Grand Strategy," Foreign Affairs, March/April 2018, "It's Time to Make Afghanistan Someone Else's Problem," The Atlantic, 2017, "Contain ISIS," The Atlantic, 2015, “Pull Back: The Case for a Less Activist Foreign Policy,” Foreign Affairs, January/February 2013, and "Command of the Commons: The Military Foundation of U.S. Hegemony," International Security, (Summer, 2003.) He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  In 2016 he was appointed Henry A. Kissinger Chair (visiting) in Foreign Policy and International Relations at the Library of Congress, John W. Kluge Center.  He is the 2017 recipient of the International Security Studies Section (ISSS), International Studies Association, Distinguished Scholar Award, and in 2019 received the Notre Dame International Security Center's Lifetime Achievement Award. 

He has been a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow; Rockefeller Foundation International Affairs Fellow; Guest Scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; Woodrow Wilson Center Fellow, Smithsonian Institution; Transatlantic Fellow of the German Marshall Fund of the United States; and a Visiting Fellow at the John Sloan Dickey Center at Dartmouth College. 




Publications|Selected Publications

Barry R. Posen, "A new transatlantic division of labor could save billions every year!" Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, September 7, 2021.

Barry R. Posen, "The transatlantic relationship: Radical reform is in the U.S. national interest," in The future of European strategy in a changing Geopolitical Environment: Challenges and Prospects, The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies, August 2021.

Barry R. Posen, "Scarcity and Strategy: The Foreign Policy of the Biden Administration," in Biden's World? Views from the United States, China, Russia and the European Union, Royal Institute for International Relations, Egmont (Brussels, Belgium), December 17, 2020.

Barry R. Posen, 'Europe can defend itself," Survival: Global Politics and Strategy, Vol. 62, No. 6, December 2020.

Barry R. Posen, "Do Pandemics Promote Peace?" Foreign Affairs, April 23, 2020.

Barry R. Posen, "The diffusion of power and the organization of the U.S. National Security Establishment," in Heidi B. Demarest and Erica D. Borghard, eds., US National Security Reform: Reassessing the National Security Act of 1947 (Routledge, 2018).

Barry R. Posen, "The Rise of Illiberal Hegemony: Trump's Surprising Grand Strategy," Foreign  Affairs, March/April 2018.

Barry R. Posen, "Civil Wars and the  Structure of World Power," Daedalus, Vol. 146, No. 4, Fall 2017.

Barry Posen, “Foreword: Military doctrine and the management of uncertainty,” Journal of Strategic Studies, 28 December 2015, pp. 159-173.

Barry R. Posen, "Pull Back: The Case for a Less Activist Foreign Policy," Foreign Affairs, January/February 2013.

Barry R. Posen, "Overkill," (part of "The Containment Conundrum: how Dangerous is a Nuclear Iran?") Foreign Affairs, July/August 2010, pp. 160-163.

Barry R. Posen, "Emerging Multipolarity: Why Should  We Care?" Current History (November 2009) pp. 347-352.

Barry R. Posen, Breakthroughs: Armored Offensives in Western Europe, 1944. With Eric Heginbotham, Nick Beldecos, Kevin Oliveau, Jonathan Ladinsky, Brian Nichiporuk, Eugene Gholz, and Ken Pollack. July 2009.

Barry R. Posen, "Restraining Order," The American Interest, Vol. 3, No. 3, January-February 2008, pp. 94-97.

For a complete list of publications






The Whole Truth (recorded for public television, no air date yet, on YouTube as of May 7, 2020.) Panel discussion of American Foreign Policy.

NPR, On Point, April 1, 2019, "NATO at 70: Is It Time To Overhaul One Of America's Oldest Alliances?"

WBUR, Radio Open Source, September 14, 2017, "Mutually Assured Madness."

Press Conference, USA Voice of America, February 17, 2017, "US foreign policy and grand strategy,"

NPR, On Point, November 23, 2015, "Should We Go All-In On ISIS?"

KCRW, Morning Edition, August 10, 2015. "Finding Friends to Fight ISIS in Syria."


"Ukraine War," Munk Debates, March 2022.

"Can Europe Defend Itself?" None of the Above, a podcast of the Eurasia Group Foundation, February, 2021.

"What Would a U.S. Grand Strategy of Restraint Look Like?" World Politics Review, June 19, 2019.


"Can Europe defend itself?" IISS, March 5, 2021.

"Can Europe Defend Itself?" John Quincy Adams Society, March 4, 2021.

"Is it Time for a Grand Strategy of Restraint? A Debate." Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, September 17, 2020. With Michael Mazarr.

"Maximum Pressure or Maximum Failure -- America's shrinking options on Iran," webinar at Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, June 4, 2020. With Jarrett Blanc and Negar Mortazavi.


Posen was an invited commentator in Foreign AffairsAsk the Experts: Is Washington Right to Leave Afghanistan?” June 22, 2021.

Posen's work was cited in "Biden's Europe Trip is an End, not a New Beginning,", June 13, 2021.

Interview: "Barry Posen on Risking Escalation and Scrutiizing Plans," Center for International Maritime Security, March 25, 2021.

Quoted in "Ending the Forever Wars, by Any Means Necessary," The New Republic, November 19, 2020.

Quoted in "War and disease travel together: Why the pandemic push for a global cease-fire is gaining ground," USA Today, April 28, 2020.

Quoted in "With impeachment over, time for new course with Russia," Washington Examiner, February 6, 2020.

"Trump Aside, What's the U.S. Role in NATO?" Op-Ed, New York Times, March 10, 2019.

Quoted in "Neocon-led US Venezuela policy, rhetoric trigger deja vu effect," Deutsche Welle, February 5, 2019.

Quoted in "Safety nightmares of US nuclear weapons," Daily Times, September 29, 2018

Quoted in "What is the Point of a Forever War in Iraq?" The National Interest, September 27, 2018.

Quoted in "The White House just revealed massive mission creep in Syria. Here’s why." Military Times, September 25, 2018.

Quoted in "Trump's sharp criticism of NATO's newest member has a point, but his comments are playing right into Russia's hands." New Haven Register, July 19, 2018.

Quoted in "Diplomacy and deterrence are our best shots for cooling nuclear fears," Globe and Mail, January 19, 2018.

Quoted in "North Korea is weak, the US is strong: Nuclear deterrence will work, if we let it," Washington Examiner, December 14, 2017.

Barry Posen's New York Times op-ed is quoted in "Tell me how Trump's North Korea gambit ends," Washington Post, December 14, 2017.

"The Price of War With North Korea," Op-Ed, New York Times, December 6, 2017.

Quoted in "On Afghanistan, Trump Should Have Gone With His Gut," WBUR's Cognoscenti, August 29, 2017.