Thomas Donnelly

Thomas Donnelly


Thomas Donnelly, a defense and security policy analyst, is the codirector of the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies at the American Enterprise Institute. He is the author, coauthor, and editor of numerous articles, essays, and books, including Operation Just Cause: The Storming of Panama and Clash of Chariots: A History of Armored Warfare. He is currently at work on Empire of Liberty: The Origins of American Strategic Culture. From 1995 to 1999, he was policy group director for the House Committee on Armed Services. Donnelly also served as a member of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission and is a former editor of Armed Forces Journal, Army Times, and Defense News.

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Recent Commentary

Featured CommentaryAnalysis and Commentary

Beyond The Terror War

by Thomas Donnellyvia Strategika
Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Since the decline of the Ottoman Empire, the story of the Middle East has been one of inconclusive struggles of the weak against the weak. That the Ottomans lasted as long as they did is in substantial measure a testament to the constant chaos of Arab and Persian politics. 

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Guns and Robots

by Thomas Donnellyvia Hoover Digest
Friday, July 7, 2017

We’ve paid too much attention to weapons of the future and too little to our forces today. 

Background EssayAnalysis and Commentary

You Say You Want A Revolution?

by Thomas Donnellyvia Strategika
Wednesday, March 15, 2017

To paraphrase the Beatles: Well, you know, you’d better free your mind instead; you may want a revolution but ought to settle for some evolution.

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Pipe Dreams of a Normal Iran

by Thomas Donnellyvia Hoover Digest
Friday, January 27, 2017

Permit the rise of Iran? That wouldn’t just be foolish. It would represent an abdication of the West’s moral legitimacy. 

Related Commentary

Obama’s Foreign Policy: No Easy Fix

by Thomas Donnellyvia Strategika
Monday, October 31, 2016

All of the Obama administration’s strategic initiatives will have lives that endure beyond the next president’s term, and three of them are quite likely to have even more profound effects.

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Ready or Not? Not

by Thomas Donnellyvia Hoover Digest
Friday, October 21, 2016

How budget cuts and shortsighted thinking have gutted both our capacity and our readiness. 

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Leading From Below

by Thomas Donnellyvia Military History in the News
Friday, September 23, 2016

Complaining about the weaknesses of European military forces has long been a favorite sport of American politicians, defense officials and pundits; this is one issue on which populists and the Establishment agree. Indeed, presidential candidate Donald Trump’s threats to withdraw from NATO unless European members pay up are really only different in quantity than in quality than Barack Obama’s “free-rider” rhetoric. Many of these complaints have merit; the failure to meet the defense-spending target of 2 percent of gross domestic product is to fall before a pretty low hurdle.

Featured CommentaryFeatured

Time Is On Iran’s Side

by Thomas Donnellyvia Strategika
Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The conclusion of the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal—formally the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action”—last year has created a new and profoundly different set of strategic realities across the Middle East. While this shift is hardly irreversible, it is moving rapidly, and, by the time the next American president figures out where the restroom is in the White House, the process will, like quick-drying cement, be well set.

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Cold Water For A Rekindled Flame

by Thomas Donnellyvia Military History in the News
Friday, September 16, 2016

The principal purpose of Operation “Enduring Freedom,” (OEF) as the Pentagon dubbed its response to the attacks of September 11, 2001, was to strike at the core of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. However, OEF quickly reproduced itself in several other countries, reflecting the fact that, while al-Qaeda’s headquarters might have been in the Hindu Kush, it was in fact a global organization.

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The Ghosts Of Saigon And Baghdad

by Thomas Donnellyvia Military History in the News
Monday, September 12, 2016

The deck of the aircraft carrier Intrepid was an ironically perfect setting for the September 7 “Commander-in-Chief Forum” debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. What was originally a World War II flattop is now a museum, and hovering in the background of the set was a Vietnam-era A-4 jet, and a good deal of the discussion was framed by the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Trump and Clinton are almost certainly the final “Baby Boomer” presidential candidates, and the ghosts of the generation haunted the evening.