Mark Moyar

Mark Moyar


Mark Moyar is a Visiting Scholar at the Foreign Policy Initiative. His books include Aid for Elites: Building Partner Nations and Ending Poverty Through Human Capital (Cambridge University Press, 2016); Strategic Failure: How President Obama’s Drone Warfare, Defense Cuts, and Military Amateurism Have Imperiled America (Threshold, 2015); A Question of Command: Counterinsurgency from the Civil War to Iraq (Yale University Press, 2009); Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954–1965 (Cambridge University Press, 2006); and Phoenix and the Birds of Prey: Counterinsurgency and Counterterrorism in Vietnam (Naval Institute Press, 1997; University of Nebraska Press, 2007). He is currently writing a book on the history of U.S. special operations forces. He holds a BA, summa cum laude, from Harvard and a PhD from Cambridge.

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Recent Commentary

Background EssayAnalysis and Commentary

Leaving Behind “Leading From Behind”

by Mark Moyarvia Strategika
Monday, October 31, 2016

In 2008, Barack Obama campaigned as a foreign policy moderate, wary of the aggressive interventionism of the George W. Bush administration but willing to take on a leading role for America in combating particularly ominous threats. While promising to pull the remaining American forces out of Iraq, he vowed to send additional troops to Afghanistan. He said that he would collaborate with other nations to a greater extent than Bush, but at the same time served notice that he would act unilaterally when vital U.S. interests were at stake.

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Seven Deadly Strategic Sins

by Mark Moyarvia Hoover Digest
Monday, July 11, 2016

A common thread runs through US military disappointments: errors at the top.

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The White House’s Seven Deadly Errors

by Mark Moyarvia Defining Ideas
Friday, February 12, 2016

Why have so many of America’s military interventions failed over the past decade? 

Background EssayFeatured

Typologies Of Terrorism

by Mark Moyarvia Strategika
Monday, February 1, 2016

The term “terrorism” is commonly understood as political violence outside the norms of conflicts between states. Terrorism’s victims can be innocent civilians, or they can be political officials or even soldiers. More controversial is the term “terrorist.” 

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Taliban Tactics Hinder Special Operations Forces

by Mark Moyarvia Military History in the News
Thursday, January 7, 2016

In response to deteriorating security conditions in southern Afghanistan, the United States recently deployed special operations forces (SOF) to Helmand province. On Tuesday, one of them was killed, and two others were wounded, raising new questions about the ongoing war and America’s role in it.

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Firm Resolve Needed to Counter Putin’s Unpredictability

by Mark Moyarvia Military History in the News
Friday, December 18, 2015

Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, commander of U.S. Army Europe, informed the press last week that Russia is intensifying its military activities in the Suwalki Gap, a sixty-mile stretch of terrain in northern Poland.

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Limp U.S. Involvement Tightens ISIS’s Grip

by Mark Moyarvia Military History in the News
Monday, December 14, 2015

Confronted by accusations that America’s ISIS strategy remains too tepid, the Obama administration is firing back with the argument that larger U.S. military commitments on the ground will actually play into the enemy’s hands.

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The White House’s Seven Deadly Errors

by Mark Moyarvia Analysis
Thursday, December 10, 2015

Seven broad errors account for America’s recent inability to turn tactical successes into strategic victories. In every instance, responsibility for the error has belonged to the White House. Excessive confidence in democratization and poor choices of allies left sustainment of strategic gains to governments incapable of preserving domestic order. Attempts to defeat insurgencies on the cheap, by speeding up counterinsurgency or relying on surgical strikes, allowed insurgencies to survive. Refusal to commit or maintain US ground forces undercut American efforts to assist and stabilize allies. By conveying intentions of military withdrawal, the United States encouraged opportunists to side with its enemies.

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A Gesture, Not The Answer: Some Flaws In The President’s Strategy To Defeat ISIS

by Mark Moyarvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The linking of the San Bernardino massacre to ISIS has once again heightened the pressure on the Obama administration to alter its ISIS strategy.

How Obama Shrank the Military

by Mark Moyar
Sunday, August 2, 2015

He’s used the budget sequester to accomplish what looks to have been his political goal from the start. News last month of the U.S. Army’s decision to cut 40,000 active-duty soldiers, shrinking to 450,000 by 2017, drew fusillades inside the Beltway. Sen. John McCain assailed “another dangerous consequence of budget-driven strategy.”