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
March 21, 2023

The Correct Conservative Approach to Ukraine Shifts the Focus to China

TIME | The war in Ukraine has now entered its second year—but President Joe Biden has yet to articulate a credible strategy.......
March 19, 2023

Former Pentagon Advisor: US will drop Europe and focus on Asia

Berliner Zeitung | Elbridge Colby: Nothing has changed in our fundamental interests: No power is still allowed to achieve hegemony over important regions......
March 17, 2023

AUKUS deal ‘more heat than light’ for the US at the moment

Sky News Australia | Former US deputy assistant secretary of defence Elbridge Colby says the AKUS deal for the US is “more heat than light” as the American system is not designed to work with aligns in creating technology and ammunition.....
March 16, 2023

In Iraq, Foreseeable Costs Outweighed Likely Benefits

National Review | The Iraq War was a great, historic error. Stating this bluntly is not a mere matter of antiquarian interest or settling scores....
March 15, 2023

The World That We Will Live and Die In

The American Conservative | “I think the questions Vance is posing and the impetus he presents are the kind the country needs,” Elbridge A. Colby told me over a Zoom call....
March 15, 2023

A Republican ‘civil war’ on Ukraine erupts as Reagan’s example fades

The Washington Post | Kagan, the Brookings fellow, called Hawley’s vision “crazy” for proposing to abandon European allies in the middle of a conflict.....
March 15, 2023

Bill Kristol Has No Business Making Demands of NR

National Review | Former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and lead author of the Trump administration’s 2018 National Defense Strategy Report, Elbridge Colby (Elbridge Colby) said in an interview with Voice of America that the U.S. and China are currently in a “zero-sum situation.....
March 14, 2023

Li Qiang said that “China and the United States can cooperate.” American experts pointed out that the prospects are low and “unrealistic”, calling on the Biden administration to give up

VOA | Former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and lead author of the Trump administration’s 2018 National Defense Strategy Report, Elbridge Colby (Elbridge Colby) said in an interview with Voice of America that the U.S. and China are currently in a “zero-sum situation.....
March 14, 2023

Elbridge Colby and Lyle Goldstein on China’s Military Capabilities

C-SPAN | Elbridge Colby and Lyle Goldstein talked about China’s military capabilities....
March 11, 2023

The real and acute threat of a Sino-US conflict over Taiwan

Hindustan Times | India should worry a great deal about a Sino-United States (US) war over Taiwan. To be fair, why it should is not necessarily obvious. After all, the Western Pacific is far from India.......
March 11, 2023

If China’s foreign minister tells us war is inevitable, we should listen

The Sydney Morning Herald | Is this realistic? It is indeed, according to the lead author of the 2018 US National Security Strategy. Only one country has the potential to dominate the US, Elbridge Colby told me last year.......
March 7, 2023

Impact of Russian’s Invasion of Ukraine on Indo-Pacific Security- Drawing Parallels to Taiwan

U.S. Embassy — Tokyo | Listen to former U.S. Department of Defense senior official Elbridge Colby and Japanese scholar Yuki Tatsumi discuss how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine impacts Japanese and American security interests, as well as the People’s Republic of China’s thinking on Taiwan......
March 6, 2023

Deterring a Cross-Strait Conflict: Beijing’s Assessment of Evolving U.S. Strategy

CSIS | How are Chinese experts assessing U.S. deterrence strategy in the Indo-Pacific and in the Taiwan Strait? Please join the Interpret: China project and a panel of leading experts for a discussion of efforts by the United States and its allies and partners to deter Chinese aggression, drawing on insights from newly translated Chinese documents.....
March 3, 2023

We’ve been pursuing a Ukraine policy that’s ‘detached from reality’: Elbridge Colby

FOX News | Elbridge Colby: There's a huge conflict brewing with China, and it’s not tenable that we can do that and Ukraine.....
March 2, 2023

The Rise of the Right-Wing Peacenik

The Free Press | Many on the right are not so much anti-war as they are China-focused. This includes Elbridge Colby, a deputy assistant secretary of defense under Trump and a leading advocate of channeling dollars and military assets away from the Middle East and Eastern Europe and toward East Asia.......
February 28, 2023

The Realignment: 348 | Is Taiwan Next?: Part II with Elbridge Colby

The Realingnment | Elbridge Colby, co-founder of The Marathon Initiative, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Development, and author of The Strategy of Denial: American Defense in an Age of Great Power Conflict, returns to The Realignment to follow up on last year's episode on Taiwan......
February 28, 2023

A Strategy of Denial for the Western Pacific

U.S. Naval Institute | China aspires to dominate the Indo-Pacific region—the impact of which would dramatically undermine Americans’ security, freedom, and prosperity. The only workable strategy is to deny China this goal. The naval services will play a central role.....
February 26, 2023

The war in Ukraine may not go nuclear, but don’t expect it to end soon

The Hub | With a new mobilization announced by Russia to continue the war effort, Elbridge Colby, the former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of d for Strategy and Force Development, says he is less concerned about nuclear conflict than he was in recent months......
February 24, 2023

One year of war in Ukraine: six experts predict what will happen next

The Spectator | As the war in Ukraine enters its second year, today seems as a good time as any to reflect on its first, and see what the future might hold. Six foreign policy experts from across the spectrum of opinion offered their thoughts to The Spectator.....
February 23, 2023

The Realignment Live Part I: Matt Stoller, Julius Krein, Elbridge Colby, Jane Coaston, Yuval Levin, and Jason Willick

The Realignment | Last week, Marshall and Saagar hosted The Realignment Live! in Washington, DC. Today's episode features multiple sessions including American Economic Liberties Project's Matt Stoller and American Affairs'....


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