Director’s Welcome, 2019-2020

By Monica Duffy Toft

Welcome back to a new and exciting academic year at the Center for Strategic Studies. It’s hard to believe this is our third full year. For the past year, we have been busy working on the Military Intervention Project (MIP) and have presented some of the findings in Washington, D.C. on the Hill and at the American Political Science Association’s Annual Meeting. The data and analysis were received with great interest and enthusiasm. Most people are aware that the United States has conducted a large number of military interventions, but not the full extent. Since 2000, the United States has intervened 92 times and since its founding in 1776, 496 times. That means that one in five interventions have taken place in the last 19 years alone. We will be publishing an academic paper presenting the data set and our analysis in the next couple of months. Once that is completed, the data set will go online and be available publicly.

As you know, we also hosted a major conference on military interventions in early October at The Fletcher School. There was a keynote panel featuring Ambassador Thomas Pickering, followed by panel discussions examining different aspect of interventions, from their causes and consequences to whether new trends in statecraft, such as drone strikes and cyberattacks, should be considered military interventions. We hosted close to 30 speakers over the two-day event. Watch the CSS blog for summaries of the panels, which will appear over the coming weeks.

CSS continues to grow and evolve. Last year we hosted a series of research and policy seminars, as well as our Engaging Practitioners Series. We plan to do so again this academic year. We are also hosting new fellows, including Professor Bridget Coggins, who joins us from the University of California, Santa Barbara, as well as Dr. Ben Denison who was most recently at Dartmouth and received a PhD from Notre Dame. Both will be working on manuscripts related to international security and intervention. Karim Elkady is with us for another year, having received two prestigious fellowships to support his research in U.S. state building after war and occupation. Nils Hägerdal, Sidita Kushi, and Megan McBride will continue as postdoctoral fellows, with each of them seeking to secure publishers for their book manuscripts, and Thomas Cavanna continues as visiting assistant professor. We congratulate Thomas on having recently published a research article on China’s Bridge and Road Initiative in the Texas National Security Review, which is part of his forthcoming book manuscript. For my part, I published a new book, People Changing Places, and a number of articles on religion, demography, and intervention. This year we welcome Lima Ahmad as a new PhD fellow, and welcome back Polina Beliakova, Zoltan Feher, Meg Guliford, David Kampf, and Xiaodon Liang. Each will focus on their dissertation research as well as contribute to the activities of the center.

Our Elephants in the War Room blog will continue to have weekly updates, some of which will include findings we discover as we work with the MIP data. We also publish blogposts by other students and scholars from the broader Fletcher community.

Please check us out online to learn more about the research and activities taking place at CSS and read our take on all things strategic, diplomatic, and war. We look forward to your feedback in person and by email.

I wish you all the best in the coming year.

Prof. Monica Duffy Toft is the director of the Center for Strategic Studies.

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