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
July 1, 2022

China, Not Russia, Still Poses the Greatest Challenge to U.S. Security

The National Interest | Nothing that has happened since Russia’s abominable invasion of Ukraine has changed a set of facts: Asia is the world’s largest market area, and it is growing in global share.....

June 28, 2022

How to keep the peace in the Indo-Pacific

The Japan Times | Still, there is a limit to the appeal of public goods There is a real difference between “new friends” and making hard choices that risk doing real damage to national security. Countries will take what they’re offered but are likely to remain on the fence in a conflict. .....

June 22, 2022

U.S. needs nimbler Asia posture to blunt China’s punch: study

Nikkei Asia | Recent arguments for countering China through "denial" have been spearheaded by Elbridge Colby, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and force planning and the lead architect of the Trump administration's 2018.....

June 21, 2022

Zeitenwende? Deutsche Verteidigungspolitik in einer Epoche der Großmachtkonflikte

Fraktion der Freien Demokraten | Keynote: Elbridge A. Colby, Mitbegründer und Leiter der Marathon-Initiative....

June 17, 2022

Podcast: Does Biden have a geopolitical plan?

The Spectator Podcast — The District | Spectator Deputy Editor Oliver Wiseman is joined by Elbridge Colby, a senior Pentagon official during the Trump administration and the author of A Strategy of Denial, to discuss Biden’s foreign policy, the war in Ukraine and whether the US is doing enough to rise to the China threat......

June 17, 2022

Nikkei Asia Webinar – Asia’s flashpoints: regional security threats and solutions

Nikkei Asia | The war in Ukraine has stoked fears about potential conflicts in Asia. Concerns range from Taiwan and the Korean peninsula to the India-China border and the Pacific Islands. All this is taking place in the broader context of a regional arms race. This webinar will examine the various points of tension – and how they might be mitigated......

June 9, 2022

U.S. and China likely to trade blows at Asian security meeting

Reuters | With U.S. military and political capital soaked up by the war in Ukraine, Austin will be under pressure to convince China's rivals in Asia that they can rely on Washington.......

June 7, 2022

Create a NATO for the Pacific, U.S. senator proposes

Nikkei Asia | Elbridge Colby, a former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and force development, said that spending political capital to form an Asian NATO would distract America and its allies from preparing for the China challenge......

June 6, 2022

Ukraine’s Tactics Are Showing Smaller Countries How to Fight Back

Bloomberg | “The clear lesson is: Don’t rely on indirect international pressure. You’ve got to be able to defeat the adversary’s ability to take and hold the key territory of your state,” says Elbridge Colby, a former Pentagon official who was the lead architect of the Trump administration’s 2018 National Defense Strategy......

June 5, 2022

Dust Off That Dirty Word Detente and Engage With China

Bloomberg | The Reagan Institute invites you to join Elbridge Colby and Mike .....

June 5, 2022

80 Years On, It’s Unclear the U.S. Would Win a New Battle of Midway

TIME | In these circumstances, as Elbridge Colby, former deputy assistant secretary for defense and the lead author of the 2018 National Defense Strategy, has argued, Washington must prepare to win a war with China—one which it cannot afford to lose—precisely in order to prevent that war from happening. .....

May 31, 2022

All for One: U.S. enlists its Asian allies in defense of Taiwan

Nikkei Asia | After the leaders of the Quad -- the U.S., Japan, Australia, and India -- met in Tokyo and distributed a joint statement on May 24, reporters quickly typed the terms "Russia" and "China" into the search function.....

May 28, 2022

‘Strategic confusion’ hurts Taiwan

Tapei Times | As for Washington’s commitment to Taiwan, “the morality of a foreign policy should be judged not by words or intent, but by how well it does that,” American Global Strategies senior adviser Elbridge Colby aptly said.....

May 27, 2022

Still Top Gun? What Tom Cruise’s new movie tells us about American power

Financial Times | Elbridge Colby worked in the Pentagon as deputy assistant secretary of defence, helping to write the influential 2018 National Defense Strategy, which shifted US strategy away from a focus on terrorism and towards a new era of great-power competition........

May 25, 2022

Top Republicans dismiss partisan differences

The Australian | Former Trump administration Pentagon official Elbridge Colby, an expert of Indo-Pacific affairs and co-founder of the Marathon Initiative, said he hoped Australia didn’t change its foreign policy stance under Labor........

May 24, 2022

Former Trump official criticized Biden’s comments about Taiwan

Tucker Carlson Tonight | Elbridge Colby told 'Tucker Carlson Tonight' Biden should speak softly, and carry a big stick........

May 24, 2022

Washington Journal: Elbridge Colby and Mark Cancian on America’s Role in Supporting Ukraine

Washington Journal | Elbridge Colby and Mark Cancian talked about the U.S. role in supporting Ukraine against Russian aggression....

May 23, 2022

Biden Commits US Military To Defend Taiwan | Breaking Points with Krystal and Saagar

Breaking Pointsl | Krystal and Saagar talk with foreign policy analyst Elbridge Colby about the Biden administration's policies towards Taiwan that are in the spotlight after Biden called for the military to defend the island nation.....

May 21, 2022

Joe Biden auf Mutmachermission

Der Spiegel | In both countries, the development of their own nuclear weapons is being debated .......

May 19, 2022

US to boost Pacific spending to counter China, but no ‘real number’ yet

Breaking Defense | [Camille Dawson, deputy assistant secretary at the State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs]’s fellow panelist Elbridge Colby, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and force development, was less sanguine........


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

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