Focused on Strategy with Impact
Committed to Deep Analysis
Oriented to the Future
Committed to Public Duty
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What We Do

America is entering an era of great power competition for which it is not prepared. How to secure American freedom and prosperity in this more competitive age is the organizing national security question of our time.

The mission of The Marathon Initiative is to develop the diplomatic, military, and economic strategies the nation will need to navigate a protracted competition with great power rivals.

Marathon is a 501(c)(3) non-profit research organization. It is funded by private individuals and foundations, as well as by grants from or contract work for the U.S. Government. Marathon does not seek or accept funding from corporations or from foreign sources.

To preserve America’s prosperity, security, and democratic way of life in an era when they are threatened by the return of great power competition.

Coming Soon: Marathon Podcast

Co-hosted by Marathon co-founders Elbridge Colby and Wess Mitchell, our forthcoming podcast will feature guests from the worlds of grand strategy, diplomacy, national security, and economics. Through lively dialogue and debate, Marathon’s podcast will examine what today’s most pressing foreign policy issues mean for American prosperity and freedom in an era of great- power competition.

Who We Are

Elbridge Colby

Elbridge Colby is co-founder and principal of The Marathon Initiative and formerly served as the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Development.

Wess Mitchell

Dr. A. Wess Mitchell is co-founder and principal at The Marathon Initiative and formerly served as the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs.

Jakub Grygiel

Dr. Jakub J. Grygiel is a Senior Advisor at The Marathon Initiative and formerly served as a Senior Advisor in the Office of Policy Planning at the U.S. Department of State.

Edward Luttwak

Dr. Edward N. Luttwak is a Distinguished Adjunct Fellow at The Marathon Initiative and formerly served as a consultant to the U.S. government.

Matt Pottinger

Matt Pottinger is a Senior Advisor at The Marathon Initiative and formerly served as the U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor.

Our Work

Broadening the Base: A Blueprint for Expanding Defense Industrial Capacity

by Robert Almelor Delfeld, with contributions from Elbridge A. Colby

The reform package best adapted to generate the broadest possible corporate and state-based coalition is by focusing on strengthening what this report designates as the defense industrial “sub-base” (DISB).
Read the Report

China’s “New” Diplomacy: Opportunities for American Statecraft

A. Wess Mitchell and Christopher Vassallo

The People’s Republic of China has embarked on an ambitious diplomatic campaign to increase its influence in strategically-vital regions and burnish its credentials as a great power of global reach.
Read the Report

Sino-American Competition, Global Strategy, and the Place of the Middle East

David Hale

The Middle East has for so long dominated the United States’ vision of its threats that it has come to distort the latter’s picture of the globe; a correction of these distortions is overdue. The United States also has a significant, if at present strained, informal alliance structure in the region and considerable assets — soft and hard — that should not be abandoned. What is needed is a sense of proportion, balance, and conceptual coherence for the partnerships among the United States and like-minded Middle Eastern states to guide the re-prioritization inherent in the idea of a rational pivot.
Read the Report

Two Fronts, One Goal: Euro-Atlantic Security in the Indo-Pacific Age

Luis Simón, Daniel Fiott, and Octavian Manea

This paper outlines how Europe can contribute to alleviating the “two-front” predicament in U.S. global strategy. It shows how Europeans can help free up the United States’ strategic bandwidth in Europe so as to enable a proper U.S. prioritization of China without weakening Europe’s deterrence architecture. The paper also shows how Europeans can contribute to U.S.-led efforts to uphold deterrence in the Indo-Pacific.
Read the Report

Strategic Sequencing: How Great Powers Avoid Multi-Front War

by A. Wess Mitchell

This paper examines how four great powers in history have handled simultaneity. Byzantium, Venice, Habsburg Austria, and the British Empire were all confronted, at important moments in their life cycles as empires, with the appearance of new threats both more powerful and different in kind than anything they had previously encountered.
Read the Report

Classics and Strategy

by Jakub Grygiel 

Classic texts – whether by Roman historians such as Tacitus or Greek tragedians such as Aeschylus or Florentine diplomats such as Francesco Guicciardini – give us important, and even unusual, insights into strategy. They certainly do not supply a ready-made strategy that could be applied to a specific security problem we face now. But they can open for us new or forgotten ways of thinking about threats and the competitive security environment, offering a perspective that is missing in modern intellectual and educational circles. Free of technical jargon and without abstractions, classics favor simplicity over simplification, privilege practical insights over abstraction, and elevate the role of individuals over impersonal trends and institutions. And they describe the motivations and the drivers behind men’s actions, the core of any strategy. This book brings back some of these classic writers, examining their thoughts on strategy and politics.
Read the Report

The Strategy of Denial

by Elbridge Colby 

The most informed and in-depth reappraisal of America’s defense strategy in decades, this book outlines a rigorous but practical approach, showing how the United States can prepare to win a war with China that we cannot afford to lose—precisely in order to deter that war from happening.
Get the book
May 11, 2024

Taiwan must get serious on defense

The Taipei Times | With each passing day, the threat of a People’s Republic of China (PRC) assault on Taiwan grows......
May 7, 2024

Broadening the Defense Industrial Base with Marathon’s Robert Delfeld

American Compass | On this episode, Oren is joined by the Marathon Initiative’s Robert Delfeld to discuss how to broaden and strengthen the defense industrial base. They dig into the history and politics of the defense industry, the effects of deindustrialization on the supply chain, and a blueprint for supporting the defense industrial “sub-base. ........
April 30, 2024

[워싱턴 톡] 전술핵 한국 재배치 지지…‘자체 핵무장’ 가능성 열어줘야 // [Washington Talk] Support for relocation of tactical nuclear weapons to Korea… We need to open up the possibility of ‘self-nuclear armament’

VOA Korea | It was pointed out that we should not rely too much on the belief that the United States will protect Korea's security even at the expense of its own cities...........
April 30, 2024

The World with Yalda Hakim: Elbridge Colby on Escalating Tensions in the South China Sea

Sky News | Former Pentagon official Elbridge Colby joins "The World with Yalda Hakim" to discuss escalating tensions in the South China Sea. ........
April 29, 2024

New Cold War: US-China Rivalry in the 21st Century

Richard Heydarian's Meta Podcast | Hedarian interviews Elbridge A. Colby on the latest news in China-US rivalry.........
April 28, 2024

Om Ukraina, Kina og europeisk sikkerhet // About Ukraine, China and European Security

Internasjonalt Forum | Interview with Elbridge Colby: An exclusive interview that the head of the editorial committee, Ciwan Can, conducted with Elbridge Colby about how a possible victory for Donald Trump could affect the war in Ukraine and security in Europe. ........
April 26, 2024

The U.S. Munitions Deficit Is a Political Problem

Taiwan Talks | The best way to understand this lack of progress is as a form of collective action problem. Given the U.S. federal system’s grounding in a separation of powers..........
April 25, 2024

A former defense official warns about China’s military power

NPR | NPR's Steve Inskeep, who's in Beijing, talks to national security policy expert Elbridge Colby, about the Biden administration's foreign policy strategy with China...........
April 23, 2024

Can China’s Invasion of Taiwan Be Prevented?

Army Matters Podcast | Most people believe it’s not a question of if China will invade Taiwan, but “when”. So can this be prevented? ........
April 12, 2024

Ex-Trump Defense Official: Taiwan Should Stop Prioritizing Ukraine|Taiwan Talks EP343

Taiwan Talks | Taiwan Talks speaks to Elbridge Colby, the principal and co-founder of the Marathon Initiative, a think tank focused on strategies to equip the U.S. for great power competition..........
April 11, 2024

Getting Real on China, ft. Elbridge Colby

The Big Stick | In this episode, I'm joined by Elbridge Colby, the architect of the 2018 National Defense Strategy and one of the boldest voices in the national security policy making world. We discuss the crucial shift in U.S. defense policies to counter China's global ascent, historical oversights on China's ambitions, and "feels vs. reals" foreign policy..........
April 10, 2024

Israel and Ukraine dominate Biden’s life. China gets its moment this week.

Politico | “There is a lot of progress in U.S. relations with key Asian states. But the fact is that the progress at the concrete level of the military balance is well behind what is needed to match China’s aweing military buildup,” said Elbridge Colby,........
April 2, 2024

The Nixon Seminar: The United Nations and International Institutions – April 2, 2024

Richard Nixon Foundation | This month's Nixon Seminar will focus on the United Nations and International Institutions.........
April 1, 2024

Elbridge Colby thinks the US military is dramatically unprepared to defend our interests in Asia

Washington Examiner | Among those sounding the alarm over the U.S.’s preparedness for military conflict in Asia is Elbridge Colby, the former deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and force development and co-founder of the Marathon Initiative........
March 29, 2024

Putin Is ‘Serious Threat’ to Eastern NATO, Ex-Defense Official Warns

Newsweek |  Elbridge Colby, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and force development under ex-President Donald Trump's administration, took to X, formerly Twitter on Thursday, saying,.......
March 27, 2024

‘Delete America Approach’: Fmr Pentagon Official Calls Out China’s Continuous Alleged Cyber Espionage Campaign

The Daily Caller | Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Elbridge Colby called out Wednesday on Fox News a continual cyber espionage campaign allegedly driven by China...........
March 27, 2024

The Ingraham Angle: US businessmen were participating in a ‘Chinese Communist spectacle’

Fox News | 'The Ingraham Angle' panelists Gordon Chang and Elbridge Colby discuss U.S. business executives meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping...........
March 20, 2024

China v. Ukraine with Elbridge Colby; TikTok’s Clock; Election Meddling Is Cool Now?

Hoover Institute | Elbridge Colby, former Defense Department assistant secretary and cofounder of the Marathon Initiative, which studies great-power competition, joins Hoover senior fellows........
March 7, 2024

A nearly $1 trillion defense budget faces headwinds at home and abroad

Defense News | “Our military is not what it should be, despite spending almost $1 trillion,” said Elbridge Colby, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense who helped develop Trump’s National Defense Strategy........
March 2, 2024

[워싱턴 톡] 한국 위해 미 도시 희생 어려워 vs 미국 공약 의심 말아야 // [Washington Talk] It’s hard to sacrifice the U.S. city for Korea vs. Don’t doubt the promise of the U.S.

VOA Korea | While North Korea threatens 'nuclear use', it has been diagnosed that it will be difficult for the United States to defend South Korea at the expense of its own cities.......


For press inquiries, please email us at press@themarathoninitiative.org.

For all other inquiries, please email us at inquiries@themarathoninitiative.org.