May 2012: National Security Policymakers Raise New Research Questions

In May, the Tobin Project experimented with a new method of connecting policymakers and scholars by holding a virtual meeting between five policymakers— from the State Department, Defense Department, National Security Council, and Senate Committee on Foreign Relations—and Tobin Project national security scholars Stephen Van Evera (initiative chair), Jeremi Suri (initiative co-chair), and Benjamin Valentino (initiative co-chair). The meeting stimulated vibrant dialogue and generated numerous research questions, which the Tobin Project shared with its network of national security scholars. Several of the policymakers called for academic work that would assess the results of U.S. foreign policy decisions and the efficacy of particular tools of statecraft, including diplomatic and economic instruments of foreign policy.

Questions raised include:

  • What role have allies played in the success of past American foreign policy decisions?
  • How can the U.S. effectively use its economic power in foreign policy?
  • Can we identify and better understand cases in which theories of state power were proved wrong by actual events?
  • What are the effects of third party mediation efforts in civil conflict and who are the best potential mediators?
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