Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Program on National Security


Well into the second decade of the 21st century the international geopolitical landscape remains a complicated and unsettled one. The United States faces dynamic threats from non-state actors and factors (e.g., terrorism, cyber threats, pandemics, etc.) as well as the reassertion of a more competitive international state system. While such matters may not pose as severe a threat as what the Cold War posed, today’s complexities are compounded because of domestic political differences in the U.S. that question what should, or should not, be the Nation’s role in international security and the resources that should, or should not, be allocated to deal with these problems.


The FPRI’s Program on National Security seeks to help illuminate and address these issues and trends by examining contemporary and emergent concerns for American and international security through a wide aperture by bringing expertise to bear in publications, media appearances, and briefings. The Institute’s location in Philadelphia outside of the shorter attention span of Washington policy debates allows the Program to look at current and emergent problems with a longer-range view. In particular the program focuses on:

  • American grand strategy
  • The current and future global geopolitical environment that affect the U.S. and its interests
  • The ends (strategies), ways (organization and methods of force employment), and means (force structures and capabilities) that impact the use of military force,
  • Counterterrorism and homeland security
  • Development, diplomacy, and informational issues that contribute to the holistic implementation of strategy
  • Competitive shaping.

Program Activities

Building on several conferences convened by FPRI’s Defense Task Force starting in 1996, which culminated in the publication of a book in 2002 entitled America the Vulnerable: Our Military Problems and How to Fix Them, FPRI’s Program on National Security is designed to address the issues raised above through a focus on research, publication, and education.

  • Research. The program and its scholars have carried out research on myriad aspects of national and international security. Some examples of the research output may be found below. In addition, the program has held numerous conferences that have resulted in major policy prescriptive reports. Examples of such conferences have been one on civil-military relations in the U.S. after the Iraq War and two on the “The Foreign Fighter Problem”—2009 and 2010.
  • Publication. Research produced by the program or its individual scholars is published as Philadelphia Papers, E-Notes, Geopoliticus posts and through outside publication outlets (books, journals, newspapers, blogs, etc.).
  • Education. The program contributes to FPRI’s education program through the hosting of occasional lectures and by offering internship opportunities to college students. Additionally, the program has developed History Institutes for secondary school educators on the teaching of American and world military history, held at the First Division Museum at Cantigny in Wheaton, Illinois. Future such events are being planned. (You can see more about the previous  teaching military history institutes here.)

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