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, “The Devasation of Gaza was Inevitable,” Foreign Policy, February 14, 2024

Barry R. Posen, “Lessons from Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine,” Defense Priorities, February 13, 2023 (With Stephen Van Evera at al.)

Barry R. Posen, “Russia’s Rebound,” Foreign Affairs, January 4, 2023

Barry R. Posen, “Ukraine’s Implausible Theories of Victory, The Fantasy of Russian Defeat and the Case for Diplomacy,” Foreign Affairs, July 8, 2022

Barry R. Posen, "Hypotheses on the Implications of the Ukraine-Russia War," Defense Priorities, June 7, 2022

Barry R. Posen, “Can Russia and the West Survive a Nuclear Crisis in Ukraine?” The National Interest, May 13, 2022

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 R. Posen, “Syria Showdown: Will Trump Be Pressured into Putting Turkey First, America Second?” The National Interest, March 16, 2017

For a complete list of publications






DW News, July 11, 2022. "Ukraine war: Is Russian defeat nothing but a 'fantasy'? "

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.


Quoted in "What Would You Have Israel Do the Defend Itself," David Brooks, New York Times, March 24, 2024. 

Quoted in "MIT Professor Devised a 'Fortress Ukraine' plan in 1994 That Proved Remarkably Right," Michael Peck, Business Insider, March 23, 2024. 

Quoted in "Climate Change and Military Power: Hunting for Submarines in the Warming Ocean," Andrea Gilli, Mauro Gilli, Antonio Ricchi, Aniello Russo, Sandro Carniel, Texas National Security Review, Spring 2024. 

Quoted in "Russia Analytical Report: Jul. 31-Aug. 7, 2023," Russia Matters, Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center, August 7, 2023.

Quoted in "Why America Still Needs Europe," Michael J. Mazarr, Foreign Affairs, April 17, 2023. 

Quoted in "Arrest in leaked classified documents investigation shocks neighors in Dighton," Michael Yoshia, Caroline Goggin, and Keke Vencill, 7 News WHDH, April 13, 2023. 

Quoted in "Russia is Replacing Its Older Jets With Powerful Su-35s," Ashish Dangwal, EurAsian Times, March 29, 2023. 

Quoted in "'What Madness Looks Like': Russia Intensifies Attack on Bakhmut," The New York Sun, January 10, 2023. 

Quoted in "The NATO-EU Joint Declaration is a Defeat for Americans," Justin Logan, CATO Institute, January 10, 2023. 

Quoted in "Diplomacy Watch: Russia takes aim at Western resolve," Connor Echols, Responsible Statecraft, January 6, 2023. 

Quoted in "The future of restraint after Ukraine," Michael Brenes, Responsible Statecraft, December 26, 2022. 

Quoted in "NATO Seeks to Build Partnership With Russia Despite Current Tensions," Malaysian Digest, December 3, 2022. 

Quoted in "The US should stay away from Azerbaijan-Iran tensions," Eldar Mamedov, Responsible Statecraft, November 16, 2022. 

Quoted in "4 Options for U.S. Grand Strategy Going Forward," University of Notre Dame Department of Political Science, October 26, 2022. 

Quoted in “Nuclear Strategy Tells Us To Confront Putin’s Nuclear Threats With Boldness, Not Caution,” RealClear Defense, September 23, 2022. 

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.