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

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
October 4, 2022

China has no clear road map for Taiwan unification: U.S. experts

Nikkei Asia | Elbridge Colby, one of the respondents and author of "The Strategy of Denial: American Defense in an Age of Great Power Conflict," told Nikkei Asia that "Beijing will be willing to permanently accept the status quo if the alternative is humiliating failure."......

September 25, 2022

US strategic ambiguity ‘ship has sailed’ after Biden affirmed US would support Taiwan

Sky News Australia | Former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence Elbridge Colby says the “ship” of strategic ambiguity “has kind of sailed” after US President Joe Biden affirmed the US will defend Taiwan if China attacks......

September 19, 2022

Elbridge Colby on the Morality of a Strategy of Denial

First Things | Editor R. R. Reno is joined by Elbridge Colby to talk about his article “The Morality of a Strategy of Denial” from the October 2022 issue.....

September 18, 2022

Elbridge Colby | Why Defending Taiwan is in America’s National Interest | NatCon 3 Miami

National Conservatism Conference | Elbridge Colby's address at the Miami National Conservatism Conference on September 11, 2022.....

September 15, 2022

How Does China Envision the World Order?

Network 20/20 | Join us for a conversation with Elbridge Colby, Co-founder and Principal of the Marathon Initiative; Author of The Strategy of Denial: American Defense in an Age of Great Power Conflict, and Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense....

September 13, 2022

China Is at Taiwan’s Door and America Isn’t Ready

The Daily Signal | America inevitably will be drawn into any potential conflict between China and Taiwan, but author and defense expert Elbridge Colby says we are woefully unprepared. ....

September 11, 2022

Realism AND Restraint get the test at National Conservatism conference

Responsible Statecraft | MIAMI — Where are national conservatives (mostly associated with the nationalist, populist movement) on China? There is no easy answer for that, though there seems to be a strong inclination towards Donald Trump’s approach before and during his presidency: don’t start any new wars, but if someone wants to start a fight, be ready to clobber them....

September 11, 2022

Elbridge Colby on Intelligence Matters

CBS News Radio | NEW THIS WEEK: Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Development....

September 10, 2022

Elbridge Colby on BBC

BBC | Elbridge Colby on BBC....

September 9, 2022

Words and Actions in the Taiwan Strait

Foundation for the Defense of Democracies | To help illustrate why Taiwan matters and exactly what steps the U.S. must take to defend Taipei and counter Beijing, guest host Bradley Bowman — senior director of FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power — is joined by top experts RADM (Ret) Mark Montgomery and Elbridge Colby.....

September 9, 2022

The Morality of a Strategy of Denial

First Things | America’s foreign policy needs to reorient. In my book The Strategy of Denial: American Defense in an Age of Great Power Conflict, I lay out what this approach should be....

September 4, 2022

Biden’s CCP – Confused China Policy

Economic Times | Seema Sirohi quotes Elbridge Colby in her September 1, 2022 column for Economic Times....

August 31, 2022

The US (ultimately) pivots from Europe to the Indo-Pacific.

Good Times Bad Times | The United States, despite the war in Europe, is making a strategic recalibration to the Indo-Pacific....

August 29, 2022

Europe’s Emerging Vulnerability: A Secure Europe Needs Greater German Defense Efforts

Internationale Politik | The United States cannot handle all of the world’s potential conflicts on its own, and certainly not simultaneously....

August 27, 2022

India presents China a two-front problem, U.S. Navy chief suggests

Nikkei Asia | "What the United States and Japan need India to do is to be as strong as possible in South Asia and effectively draw Chinese attention so that they have a major second-front problem," said Colby, the principal author of the 2018 National Defense Strategy under former President Donald Trump. ...

August 25, 2022

Lessons of Ukraine: Half a Year of Invasion

Yomuiri | Based on the failure of the Russian military, China is expected to aim to secure air superiority by completely destroying the air defense network with a large number of precision-guided missiles immediately after the start of the war with Taiwan....

August 25, 2022

Elbridge Colby: War with China or Russia increasingly plausible but Canada isn’t ready

National Post | The world needs more Canada. But, contrary to much current rhetoric, it needs more good, old-fashioned Canadian hard power. As much as anything, this means more Canadian military strength that can help better defend its allies — and itself — in a considerably more dangerous world........

August 24, 2022

The Kevin Roberts Show – Episode 28, Elbridge Colby

The Kevin Roberts Show | When it comes to foreign policy, America is no longer leading from a place of “peace through strength.” As today’s guest puts it: “We’re both speaking softly and carrying a small stick.”....

August 22, 2022

Can China’s Invasion of Taiwan be Prevented?

Army Matters - Association of the United States Army | Most people believe it’s not a question of if China will invade Taiwan, but “when”. So can this be prevented? Host Joe Craig sits down with Elbridge Colby to discuss his 2021 book The Strategy of Denial: American Defense.....

August 22, 2022

Will Great Powers War Once More? (feat. Elbridge Colby)

American Moment | In Today's episode of "Moment of Truth," Saurabh and Nick sit down with Elbridge Colby, Co-Founder and Principal of The Marathon Initiative and author of "The Strategy of Denial: American Defense in an Age of Great Power Conflict." .......


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