Kori Schake

Research Fellow

Kori Schake is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

During the 2008 presidential election, she was senior policy adviser to the McCain-Palin campaign, responsible for policy development and outreach in the areas of foreign and defense policy.

From 2007 to 2008 she was the deputy director for policy planning in the state department. In addition to staff management, she worked on resourcing and organizational effectiveness issues, including a study of what it would take to “transform” the state department so as to enable integrated political, economic, and military strategies.

During President Bush's first term, she was the director for Defense Strategy and Requirements on the National Security Council. She was responsible for interagency coordination for long-term defense planning and coalition maintenance issues. Projects Schake contributed to include conceptualizing and budgeting for continued transformation of defense practices; the most significant realignment of US military forces and bases around the world since 1950; creating NATO's Allied Command Transformation and the NATO Response Force; and recruiting and retaining coalition partners for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

She has held the Distinguished Chair of International Security Studies at West Point, and also served in the faculties of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, the University of Maryland’s School of Public Affairs, and the National Defense University. She is on the boards of the journal Orbis and the Centre for European Reform and blogs for Foreign Policy’s Shadow Government.

Her publications include State of Disrepair: Fixing the Culture and Practices of the State Department (Hoover Institution Press, 2012), Managing American Hegemony: Essays on Power in a Time of Dominance (Hoover Institution Press, 2009), “Choices for the Quadrennial Defense Review” (Orbis, 2009), “Dealing with a Nuclear Iran” (Policy Review, 2007), and “Jurassic Pork” (New York Times, 2006). She coauthored “How America Should Lead” (Policy Review, 2002), and coedited The Berlin Wall Crisis: Perspectives on Cold War Alliances (2002), and “Building a European Defense Capaibility” (Survival,, 1999).

From 1990 to 1996, she worked in Pentagon staff jobs, first in the Joint Staff’s Strategy and Policy Directorate (J-5) and then in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

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Recent Commentary

Analysis and Commentary

The Inherent Fallacy Of Believing We Can Beat The Islamic State Without U.S. Ground Troops

by Kori Schakevia Foreign Policy
Wednesday, April 20, 2016

[Registration Required] No one — not Obama, Clinton, Trump, or Cruz — will dare to admit the obvious: We’re going to need to put boots on the ground in Iraq and Syria.

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A Winning Strategy: Combine Military Force With Good Governance

by Kori Schakevia Analysis
Thursday, March 24, 2016

The United States has been unable to translate frequent tactical successes into strategic victories in most of its recent overseas interventions for two reasons: first, because our political leaders have not defined clear political end states; and second, because we have relied too heavily on military means instead of crafting an integrated mix of political, diplomatic, economic, intelligence, information, and cultural elements. Our outcomes have been actually worse than just successes that are not quantifiable: we are telegraphing to allies and to enemies an incapacity to act strategically.

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Legitimacy Rests In Iranian Hands

by Kori Schakevia Strategika
Monday, March 14, 2016

Whether Iran succeeds in gaining legitimacy with Europe and the United States after the end of sanctions by the West may have less to do with choices by the Western countries and more to do with internal Iranian politics. All of the parties to the Iranian nuclear deal want to provide that legitimacy; but Iran’s opaque internecine politics may get in the way.


Obama: Fighting Wars He Believes Unwinnable

by Kori Schakevia The Atlantic
Monday, March 14, 2016

What’s behind the president’s inaction?

Analysis and Commentary

Donald Trump, Barbarian Emperor

by Kori Schakevia Foreign Policy
Friday, March 4, 2016

How the GOP presidential front-runner totally misunderstands Japan -- and the value of supporting (not extorting) our allies in Asia.

Analysis and Commentary

American Diplomacy In Syria Has Handed A Victory To Bashar Al-Assad And Vladimir Putin

by Kori Schakevia National Review Online
Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The impetus for John Kerry’s “cessation of hostilities” deal is easy to understand: According to the United Nations, 450,000 Syrians are under siege in 15 locations, and another 4 million are in hard-to-reach areas. The administration’s humanitarian concerns do them credit. But sometimes the best humanitarian contribution is success on the battlefield.


Safe Zones Proved Their Value After The Gulf War

by Kori Schakevia The New York Times
Monday, February 22, 2016

This is what American policy for Syria has come to: We won’t take action against the Syrian military that has made refugees of 6.5 million Syrian citizens and killed 470,000 of its own people, or against the Russian military that is targeting hospitals, and we take the long view about defeating ISIS, but we will take action to prevent Syrian refugees from fleeing that terror.

Analysis and Commentary

Obama’s Hope For Peace Led To Bolder Foes, Frayed Alliances

by Kori Schakevia The New York Times
Friday, February 19, 2016

President Obama came into office believing he could repair America’s standing in the world; he would restore our alliance relations while offering an open hand to our adversaries, and in doing so make the world safer. The legacy of his presidency will instead be a more dangerous international order, deeply distrustful allies and emboldened adversaries.

Analysis and Commentary

The Hard Thing About Strategy

by Kori Schakevia War on the Rocks
Thursday, February 18, 2016

In his magisterial history of strategy, Lawrence Freedman argues that the most interesting strategists of the past 50 years have been American businessmen. The Hard Thing About Hard Things is all by itself proof of Freedman’s argument.


Obama’s Syria Policy Is Morally And Strategically Bankrupt

by Kori Schakevia National Review
Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Five years ago, President Obama proudly declared that “some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different.” Imagine how that must sound to a people whose government has killed more than a quarter million of its citizens and made refugees of 9 million more, who suffer chemical-weapons and barrel-bomb attacks, kidnappings, and torture.