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
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........

May 18, 2022

Asia Pacific: A US Defense Strategy | Sea-Air-Space 2022

Sea - Air - Space 2022 | Asia Pacific: A US Defense Strategy | Sea-Air-Space 2022......

May 18, 2022

Bridge Colby Brings Us the Latest on Ukraine

The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show | Well, great to be with you, Clay and Buck. And, actually, I’m here in Hawaii on work; so don’t be too jealous, but it’s always a pleasure to be with you guys.......

May 17, 2022

War in Ukraine casts shadow on land forces symposium in Hawaii

Stars & Stripes | Elbridge Colby, who served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and force development from 2017 to 2018, was more specific about that adversary.....

May 17, 2022

AUSA LANPAC Symposium – Keynote Presentation: Elbridge Colby

AUSA LANPAC Symposium | AUSA LANPAC Symposium - Keynote Presentation: The Honorable Elbridge Colby.......

May 17, 2022

AUSA LANPAC Symposium – Panel Discussion: Strategic Environment – Preparedness to Meet Future Challenges

AUSA LANPAC Symposium | Panel Discussion: Strategic Environment - Preparedness to Meet Future Challenges......

May 16, 2022

Japan should quickly spend more on defense: former Pentagon official

Nikkei Asia | In the lead-up to the summit, Nikkei spoke to Elbridge Colby, a former Pentagon official, and Wendy Cutler, a former acting deputy of the U.S. Trade Representative.....

May 16, 2022

The Taboo Against Great Power War Is Gone

The New York Times | Two of the key lessons of the Russian-Ukraine war are the tremendous expenditure of the most high-technology ordnance to achieve any useful battlefield effect, and the vulnerability of even the most advanced ships, planes and tanks to enemy action......

May 14, 2022

There Are Two Endgames in Ukraine. Both Carry Big Risks.

The New York Times |Ross Douthat: I’ve been turning over these dilemmas since I moderated a recent panel at the Catholic University of America with three right-of-center foreign policy thinkers — Elbridge Colby, Rebeccah Heinrichs and Jakub Grygiel....

May 13, 2022

Bastion Institute Chicago: Panel

The Bastion Institute | Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), Rich Goldberg, Elbridge Colby....

May 7, 2022

U.S. Presses Taiwan to Buy Weapons More Suited to Win Against China

The New York Times | The push by the Biden administration has broadened and accelerated similar efforts by officials in the Trump and Obama administrations. .....

May 5, 2022

New World Order: What the War in Ukraine Means For American Grand Strategy

Institute for Human Ecology, Catholic University | Russia’s invasion of Ukraine along with retaliatory Western sanctions has caused a reassessment of America’s foreign policy. Is Russia’s invasion of Ukraine the end of the Pax Americana, or is the unified Western response a sign of resilient American strength?.....

May 5, 2022

Elbridge Colby on American Grand Strategy and Great Power Conflict

Constitutional Conventions - Yale Law School | Elbridge Colby is the co-founder and a principal of The Marathon Initiative, a policy initiative designed to prepare the United States for an era of great power competition.....

May 3, 2022

The Strategy of Denial: American Defense in an Age of Great Power Conflict Book Discussion

The Washingtonian | A former top defense official in the Trump administration, Colby was featured in the New Yorker for his push to position most of the US’s military policy to be geared toward China........


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