Focused on Strategy with Impact
Committed to Deep Analysis
Oriented to the Future
Committed to Public Duty
previous arrow
next arrow

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.

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
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 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.......
February 24, 2024

Elbridge Colby: America Will Choose Asia Over Europe

RealClearWorld | UnHerd's Freddie Sayers talks with Donald Trump's former security advisor Elbridge Colby and others, about the possibility of World War III. Colby says American defence must focus on China. .......
February 22, 2024

China’s Russia Support Strategy

Politico | “China has gained enormously — Putin is dependent on China and Russia is dependent on China and China’s goodwill,” said Daniel Fried, former assistant secretary of State for ............
February 22, 2024

Two Years Later: Should America Continue to Aid Ukraine? A Debate.

Honestly Podcast | Today on Honestly, a debate: Where is all of America’s aid to Ukraine going? Is Ukraine really such a clear-cut cause? .......
February 20, 2024

JD Vance’s defense message to Europe is imperfect but cannot be ignored

Washington Examiner | Nevertheless, as Elbridge Colby has outlined repeatedly and as the mathematical facts prove, Vance is undeniably correct when he says that the U.S............
February 20, 2024

U.S. Hawks Must Finally Get Real About China

TIME | Hawks have been saying for decades that we are living in an incredibly dangerous world. That was an exaggeration twenty years ago but now is actually true...........
February 15, 2024

Why Is The American Right Pandering to Putin?

The Free Press | Elbridge Colby tells The Free Press: "The fact of the matter is that Russia under Vladimir Putin is a very dangerous state. It has embarked on an evil invasion of Ukraine............
February 13, 2024

‘Totally Out of Whack’: Senate Prioritizes Ukraine Over Americans’ Interests

The Daily Signal | National security expert Elbridge Colby, co-founder and principal at The Marathon Initiative, spoke with The Daily Signal about what’s playing out on Capitol Hill and why he thinks this legislation misses the mark. He also explained how the United States should be prioritizing its national security............
February 13, 2024

What Taiwan needs to do to prevent a war with China | DW Analysis

AM 560: Chicago's Morning Answer | Elbridge Colby, co-founder and principal of The Marathon Iniatitive & served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Development from 2017-2018:...........
February 12, 2024

Bei Einem Krieg umm Europa… // In the Event of a War in Europe…

Apollo News | Unter Trump diente er als Vize-Verteidigungsminister für Strategie, im Interview mit Apollo News erklärt Elbridge Colby, warum für die USA nun Asien der „entscheidende Schauplatz“ ist, den man vor Europa priorisieren muss...........
February 12, 2024

5 Rules for Superpowers Facing Multiple Conflicts

Foreign Policy | While the debate rages about how to handle what’s happening in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia, it may be worth pausing to consider the situation from a historical perspective......
February 6, 2024

Elbridge Colby: A Geopolitical Run on the Bank is Precisely the Danger we are Now Courting

AM 560: Chicago's Morning Answer | Elbridge Colby, co-founder and principal of The Marathon Iniatitive & served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Development from 2017-2018:...........
February 5, 2024

A Foreign Policy Review with Elbridge Colby

The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show | Elbridge Colby, co-founder of The Marathon Initiative and former U.S. Assistant Deputy Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Development, joined Clay and Buck to take stock of all the world's hotspots............
February 2, 2024

US needs a ‘combination’ of a ‘forceful’ response to the drone attack in Jordan

The Australian | Former US deputy assistant secretary of defence Elbridge Colby says America needs a “combination” of a “forceful” response to the drone attack in Jordan.........
January 31, 2024

Will Europe Lose World War III?

UnHerd | UnHerd's Freddie Sayers talks with Aris Roussinos, Elbridge Colby and Pippa Malmgren, about the possibility of World War III. Will 2024 be the year of a Third World War?...........


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

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