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

September 16, 2021

Former U.S. National Defense Official Proposes “Denial Strategy” to Contain Beijing

VOA Chinese | Recently, Chinese naval ships sailed into the waters near Alaska in the United States. A few days ago, Japan said that Chinese destroyers and suspected submarines were found on the edge of its waters...

September 15, 2021

The Strategy of Denial

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace | Join us for a conversation on Elbridge A. Colby's new book The Strategy of Denial which offers a detailed examination of how America's defense strategy must change in order to checkmate China's growing power and ambition and deter war....

September 15, 2021

Biden Announces Defense Deal With Australia in a Bid to Counter China

The New York Times | But China’s aggressive tactics in the Pacific and America’s desire to ensure security for Taiwan required the United States to empower Australia, even...

September 14, 2021

Rethinking U.S. Defense Strategy, With Elbridge A. Colby

Council on Foreign Relations | Elbridge A. Colby, cofounder and principal of the Marathon Initiative, sits down with James M. Lindsay to discuss whether and how the United States should revise its defense strategy to face its current challenges...

September 14, 2021

American Defense in an Era of Great Power Conflict

Diplomatic Courier | Binary either-or strategy considerations about whether China is a threat or not don't go far enough and reflect a lack of doctrinal framework. ...

September 12, 2021

Getting a Game Plan for the Guardian of America’s Global Interests

The National Interest | In a decade or so, we’ll have all the answers. Either this will be recognized as the latest age of the great American strategists following in the footsteps of Alfred Thayer Mahan and George Kennan—or we will all be speaking Chinese and bowing to the West...

September 11, 2021

What Comes After the 9/11 Era?

The New York Times | A consensus can change slowly and then, under the right pressure, all at once, and for Republicans that pressure came from Donald Trump. No dove or systematizer, he still made realism and anti-interventionism respectable again — with immediate consequences for my friend...

September 9, 2021

Defending the Next American Century

Law & Liberty | The story is familiar: two great powers lurching toward blows more and more with each passing day, but neither will yield an inch. Geopolitics, national interests, and escalatory rhetoric bring both to an inflection point too dangerous to ignore, but too distant for some to foresee until it is too late....

August 26, 2021

Deutschland am Scheidepunkt – eine aktive Verteidigungs- und Bündnispolitik ist überfällig (Germany at the crossroads – an active defense and alliance policy is overdue)

SIRIUS – Zeitschrift für Strategische Analysen | If European allies, especially Germany, continue to refuse to increase their defense efforts, the United States is unlikely to fill the security vacuum in Europe, but will rather accept the risks that such a refusal poses to European security.....

August 23, 2021

Elbridge Colby & The True Purpose Of The American Government

The Ben Domenech Podcast | This week, Ben Domenech is joined by Co-Founder and Principal of The Marathon Initiative Elbridge Colby to discuss America’s involvement in the Afghanistan crisis. Elbridge shares his take on President Joe Biden’s responses in a recent interview with George Stephanopoulos. He also shares his thoughts on American policy and the true purpose of our government....

August 23, 2021

Beijing’s American Hustle

Foreign Affairs | Although many Americans were slow to realize it, Beijing’s enmity for Washington began long before U.S. President Donald Trump’s election in 2016 and even prior to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s rise to power in 2012. .....

August 21, 2021

A Strategy for Avoiding Two-Front War

The National Interest | The greatest risk facing the twenty-first-century United States, short of an outright nuclear attack, is a two-front war involving its strongest military rivals, .....

August 19, 2021

Will the Next American War Be With China?

The New Yorker | Colby, a fortysomething graduate of Yale Law School, was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Development in the Trump Administration....

August 5, 2021

The China Threat and US Defense Strategies

Global Demons with Robert D. Kaplan | Why should the average American care about the China Threat? In this episode of the Global Demons Podcast, Host Robert D. Kaplan is joined by Elbridge Colby to discuss Chinese military and defense strategies and how the U.S. and its allies should engage with China in the future....

July 30, 2021

How the U.S. Learned to Stop Worrying About the Pacific and Love the ‘Indo-Pacific’

Foreign Policy | “From a military perspective, the focus really needs to be tightly on the Pacific, especially the first island chain and Taiwan,” said Elbridge Colby, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense during the Trump administration who helped craft the 2018 National Defense Strategy....

June 30, 2021

Biden Is Falling Into the Same Trap With Europe as Obama

Foreign Policy | In reality, U.S. ties with many European allies don’t need resuscitation. In fact, many of these relationships significantly improved under Trump following years of neglect under the Obama administration.....

June 24, 2021

Deter China’s military invasion of Taiwan

47 News | As the conflict between the United States and China deepens and tensions in the Taiwan Strait are worried, Elbridge Colby, who participated in the formulation of the strategy for China as Assistant Secretary of Defense under the former US administration of Trump,....

June 24, 2021

Wess Mitchell testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on NATO 2030

House Foreign Affairs Committee | TMI Principal Wess Mitchell reflects on strengthening the transatlantic alliance in his testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee #NATO2030.......

June 21, 2021

Pacific deterrence budget creates rift between Biden and Congress

Nikkei Asia | The confusion over the PDI shows that there is still debate over "how to deal with the China military challenge," even as the question of whether Beijing is a priority has been settled,....

June 18, 2021

Japan must disavow pacifism and embrace collective defense

Nikkei Asia | The question of how to respond to China's enormous growth and increasing assertiveness is leading countries across the Indo-Pacific to grapple with uncomfortable -- even previously unimaginable -- policy changes....


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

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