Christopher Ford

Visiting Fellow

Dr. Christopher Ford is a distinguished policy advisor at MITRE Labs, where he works on issues of great power competition, S&T policy, and the policy and national security implications of emerging technology. Ford served until January 2021 as assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation, and also exercised the authorities of the under secretary for arms control and international security.

Before his service at the State Department, he served as special assistant to the president and senior director for weapons of mass destruction and counterproliferation at the US National Security Council, where he ran the directorate of that name throughout 2017.

A veteran of many years as a congressional staffer, Ford has served at various points on the staffs of the US Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, Banking Committee, Appropriations Committee, Select Committee on Intelligence, Permanent Select Committee on Investigations, and Governmental Affairs Committee. He also served as principal deputy assistant secretary of state for verification and compliance from 2003 to 2006, and as US special representative for nuclear nonproliferation from 2006 to 2008.

A summa cum laude graduate of Harvard who received a doctorate at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and a law degree from Yale, Ford has also worked as a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC, and served from 1994 until 2011 as an intelligence officer in the US Navy Reserve, which he left with an honorable discharge in 2011 at the rank of lieutenant commander.

Ford is the author of three books—China Looks at the West: Identity, Global Ambitions, and the Future of Sino-American Relations (2015), The Mind of Empire: China's History and Modern Foreign Relations (2010), and The Admirals' Advantage: US Navy Operational Intelligence in World War II and the Cold War (2005)—as well as a great many articles and monographs.

His website may be found at

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Recent Commentary

Analysis and Commentary

Rethinking Multilateral Controls For A Competitive World

by Christopher Fordvia National Security Law Journal
Thursday, May 19, 2022

The international community’s present multilateral export control regimes – the Missile Technology Control Regime (“MTCR”),1 Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (“NSG”),2 Wassenaar Arrangement (“WA”),3 Australia Group (“AG”),4 and Zangger Committee5 – have played an important role in promoting international security over the last generation.


A Four-Faction Heuristic ‘WXYZ’ Model For Exploring US Arms Control And Disarmament Politics

by Christopher Fordvia Hoover Institution Press
Thursday, March 31, 2022

This essay offers a heuristic to help explain US arms control policy and politics over the last two decades. In this framing, policy decisions are the result of contestation, bargaining, and coalition dynamics between four “WXYZ” factions within the policy community, ranging from dovish “Ws” to hawkish “Zs.” This schema can illuminate major US arms control policy debates and decisions over the last generation.

Analysis and Commentary

Defending Taiwan: Defense And Deterrence

by Christopher Fordvia National Institute for Public Policy
Tuesday, February 15, 2022

The question of Taiwan’s “reunification” with the Chinese Mainland is one of enormous, and potentially existential, importance to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). In the legitimacy discourse the CCP invokes to justify its own rule in Beijing, it is deeply threatening to the Party for any part of what is deemed to be “China” to remain outside its control. 

Analysis and Commentary

Decision-Support Tools For National Policymakers: Fool’s Gold Or Treasure Trove?

by Christopher Fordvia MITRE
Monday, January 31, 2022

Decision-support tools cannot replace the human judgment of high-level decision-makers, but they can assist national leaders in addressing complex national challenges. This paper offers a brief outline of one emergent decision-support methodology that is being developed and evaluated at the MITRE Corporation to support decision-making in advancing U.S. interests in our country’s strategic competition with China.