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
July 16, 2024

A Trump-Vance ticket will bring forth an ‘America-first’ foreign policy, says Elbridge Colby

CNBC | "Elbridge Colby, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Trump administration, joins ‘Squawk Box’ to discuss what a Trump-Vance ticket would look like from a geopolitical standpoint, what an America-first foreign policy would entail under a second Trump administration, future of U.S.-China relations, and more."........
July 8, 2024

FP Events: NATO in a New Era

Foreign Policy | As nations gather in Washington, D.C. for the NATO Summit, officials on both sides of the Atlantic are coming together to chart the course for future European security.............
July 7, 2024

SpectatorTV: Why America must pivot from Ukraine to Taiwan – former Trump adviser Elbridge Colby

The Spectator | "On this episode of Americano, Colby tells host Freddy Gray why the US should – and likely will – reduce its support to Ukraine and Europe, to focus on the increasing threat China poses over Taiwan. Europe, he says, can pick up the slack on its own continent.......
July 2, 2024

Elbridge Colby: “I am signalling to China that my policy is status quo”

The New Statesman | "Stripped to its core, Colby’s logic comes down to this: 'Asia’s more important than Europe, China is more formidable than Russia, and the other European states are much stronger relative to Russia than the Asian ones are relative to China..........
June 26, 2024

CFR Panel—Debating the United States’ China Strategy

Council on Foreign Relations | As part of the Council on Foreign Relations new China Strategy Initiative, a panel discussion featuring Elbridge Colby, Bonny Lin, Matt Pottinger, and Stephen Wertheim debates the fundamental questions behind U.S. China strategy..........
June 17, 2024

Policy Exchange UK Event: New Republican visions for American foreign and national security policy

Policy Exchange UK | Republican Visions for American Foreign and National Security Policy with Elbridge Colby Co-founder and principal of The Marathon Initiative, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Development in conversation with Rt Hon Sir Michael Fallon KCB Former Secretary of State for Defence........
June 8, 2024

Former Trump Defense Official Puts Taiwan Above Ukraine; Elbridge Colby Says Chinese Attack Could Come With Little Warning

The Japan News - Yomiuri Shimbun | “Asia is now the primary theater; it’s no longer Europe.” He also said, “Europe is much more capable of handling Russia … on its own. I’m not saying we abandon Europe, but [it can be] much more on its own than Asia is.”.......
June 7, 2024

„Was zählt, ist kalter, harter Stahl“ // “What Counts is Cold, Hard Steel”

Handelsblatt | Republican strategist Elbridge Colby could shape US foreign policy in Donald Trump's re-election. In the interview, he makes clear demands on Europe - especially Germany.........
June 6, 2024

„Die USA können es sich nicht leisten, weiter führend die Ukraine zu versorgen“ // “The USA cannot afford to continue to supply Ukraine as a leader”

Welt | US security expert Colby was a Trump adviser and could take on a high position in a new presidency. He accuses Joe Biden of giving Europeans a false sense of security. The USA would have to focus on another region - and Germany would have to take the lead.y....
June 2, 2024

[ENG] South Korea’s Nuclear Armament? A Conversation with Elbridge Colby.

김지윤의 지식 // Jiyoon Kim's Knowledge | 한국의 핵무장? 화제 주인공 엘브리지 콜비를 직접 만났습니다 | 엘브리지 콜비, 한미동맹, 외교안보 즐거움과 유익함이 가득가득, 김지윤의 지식 // South Korea’s nuclear armament? Meet the man who is at the center of attention: Elbridge Colby in person | Elbridge Colby, ROK-US alliance, foreign affairs and security....
May 31, 2024

Why Should We Care About America’s Defense Priorities?

Why Should We Care About the Indo-Pacific? Podcast | Ray Powell and Jim Caruso talk to Elbridge Colby, author and former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Development, about his provocative views concerning America's need to urgently address the China threat by prioritizing the ........
May 29, 2024

In Asia, Pentagon chief Austin seeks to reassure allies and cool China tensions

Asia One | "I think, at this point, it’s essentially undeniable that we’re not as focused on Asia as we need to be,” said Mr Elbridge Colby, a former senior Pentagon official during the Trump administration. .......
May 29, 2024

In Asia, Pentagon chief Austin seeks to reassure allies and cool China tensions

Reuters | "I think at this point, it's essentially undeniable that we're not as focused on Asia as we need to be," said Elbridge Colby, a former senior Pentagon official during the Trump administration.........
May 27, 2024

트럼프 前 안보 참모 “한반도 통일 지지… 주한미군 철수엔 반대” // Former Trump National Security Advisor: “Supports unification of the Korean Peninsula… Opposes withdrawal of US troops from Korea”

Chosun Ilbo | Elbridge Colby, former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Development, who visited Korea to participate in the Asian Leadership Conference (ALC).....
May 23, 2024

America must face reality and prioritise China over Europe

Financial Times | "Despite stirring rhetoric from leaders in Congress and the press, a foreign policy of US primacy is simply not possible. We do not have the military for it, and even if the budget were available, we could not field one in sufficient time........
May 17, 2024

Trump ally has tough love for Europe

Politico | “I think the transatlantic relationship is really important, and I think Russia is a very serious threat,” said Elbridge Colby, a former senior Pentagon official who’s now being tipped for a major national security role — if former U.S. President Donald Trump is reelected in November.......
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 8, 2024

Ex-Pentagon official stresses need for war plan rethink, swift OPCON transfer, USFK overhaul

Yonhap News Agency | In an interview with Yonhap News Agency Monday, Elbridge Colby, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Development during the Trump administration, also expressed his support for the swift transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON)......
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...........


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