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.

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

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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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
December 4, 2023

Washington’s Top China Hawk Talks TikTok, Taiwan & Trump

On with Kara Swisher | Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin is on a mission to raise the alarm bell on the Chinese Communist Party and rethink America's approach to China...........
November 30, 2023

Kissinger Met with Xi and Other Powerful Figures into His 100th Year

The New York Times | "When Henry Kissinger popped up in an ornate meeting room in Beijing in July with Xi Jinping, China’s leader, the episode became the most vivid symbol of the former diplomat and business consultant’s ability through the decades to put himself next to centers of power.".........
November 29, 2023

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

The National Interest | The pivot to East Asia is a rational maneuver much discussed over the past decades but of only recent and somewhat sticky execution..........
November 16, 2023

Biden Admin’s Policy Is ‘Appeasement’ Towards China: Elbridge Colby

Fox News | Elbridge Colby joins "The Ingraham Angle" to discuss Joe Biden's 'appeasement' strategy towards China..........
November 16, 2023

Osama bin Laden letter goes viral on TikTok | On Balance

NewsNation | Elbridge Colby joins ‘On Balance’ with Leland Vittert to discuss TikTok’s malign influence over America’s young people via disinformation; they also discuss the strategic implications of the APEC Summit....
November 16, 2023

America Is a Heartbeat Away From a War It Could Lose

Foreign Policy | Global war is neither a theoretical contingency nor the fever dream of hawks and militarists.....
November 15, 2023

One friendly meeting: What’s changed, what hasn’t in China-U.S. rivalry

CBC News | The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission cited escalating rhetoric from Xi; instructions to his military to be ready for combat; new conscription and reservist laws allowing faster mobilization....
November 15, 2023

U.S. Signalling Low Expectations for APEC Summit, Says Former U.S. Defence Official

CBC News | The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco is the first face-to-face meeting in a year between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping amidst tensions between the two superpowers....
November 15, 2023

Elbridge Colby on the Stakes of Today’s Biden-Xi Summit

The Free Press | “I think the most charitable explanation is that the administration is seeking to communicate directly to Xi Jinping that we are not looking to strangle them or suppress them. What Xi Jinping presumably wants to achieve in his visit is not actually speaking to Biden, but speaking to American businessmen.“..........
November 15, 2023

Xi Jinping sees the US as an ‘existential threat’: Elbridge Colby

Fox Business | Former Trump administration Department of Defense official Elbridge Colby shares his expectations for President Biden’s meeting with China’s Xi Jinping.....
November 10, 2023

Will Hamas abide by Israel’s 4-hour daily pauses?

Fox Business | Former Defense official Elbridge Colby and Ret. Lt. Col. James Carafano discuss the latest in the Israel-Hamas war on 'The Evening Edit......
November 9, 2023

[인터뷰: 콜비 전 국방부 부차관보] “중국, 한국에 대해 경제적 패권 추구할 것…미중 제로섬 관계” // [Interview: Colby, former Deputy Secretary of Defense] “China will pursue economic hegemony over Korea…”

VOA Korea | Former Defense Deputy Deputy Minister for Strategy and Power Development Elbridge Colby said that China will use its military power to pursue economic hegemony over Asian countries such as Korea...........
November 6, 2023

The Case for Prioritizing Taiwan Over Ukraine

Baltimore Council on Foreign Affairs | Former Pentagon official Elbridge Colby addresses the Baltimore Council on Foreign Affairs on various subjects, including Ukraine, Taiwan, defense prioritization and more.........
November 3, 2023

AUKUS going to ‘face challenges’ and is ‘at risk of falling apart’

The Australian | Former US deputy assistant secretary of defence Elbridge Colby says the trilateral security partnership between Australia, the UK, and the US, in acquiring nuclear-powered submarines (AUKUS) is at risk of falling apart.........
November 2, 2023

Elbridge Colby on ‘Ingraham Angle’: We Absolutely Are Seeing Greater Coordination

Fox News | Former Trump defense official Elbridge Colby and former NSC senior official Richard Goldberg criticize President Biden's handling of the Israel-Hamas war on 'The Ingraham Angle.'.....
November 1, 2023

Three Foreign-Policy Illusions

The Wall Street Journal | Bad leaders alone don’t cause conflict, global governance has failed, and trade doesn’t create peace.....
October 30, 2023

Spanish Verison – Elbridge Colby, ex asesor del Pentágono: “Estados Unidos no está preparado para una guerra de alta intensidad con China”

Descifrando La Guerra | Pero, en general, no se está moviendo ni de lejos con la urgencia, la escala o la velocidad necesarias para hacer frente a la amenaza que supone China. .........
October 30, 2023

English Version – Elbridge Colby, former Pentagon advisor: “The United States is not ready for a high-intensity war with China”

Descifrando La Guerra | But overall the Biden Administration is not moving with anywhere near the requisite urgency, scale, or speed to address the threat China poses.........
October 26, 2023

Sixth Annual Christianity & National Security Conference

Providence Magazine | Elbridge Colby addresses Providence Magazine’s Sixth Annual Christianity & National Security Conference on the subject of the morality of the Strategy of Denial, and stewardship in foreign policy.......
October 20, 2023

Protectionism in Grand Strategy

Nixon Grand Strategy Summit | Richard Nixon Foundation’s Grand Strategy Summit - October 19, 2023 "Protectionism in Grand Strategy" Featuring Elbridge Colby, Ro Khanna, and moderated by Joe Kernen..........


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