Joshua Rovner

John G. Tower Distinguished Chair of International Politics and National Security & Director of Studies at the Tower Center for Political Studies

3300 University Blvd 316A Carr Collins Hall

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Joshua Rovner is the John Goodwin Tower Distinguished Chair of International Politics and National Security, Associate Professor of Political Science, and Director of Studies at the Tower Center for Political Studies. Before coming to SMU, he was Associate Professor of Strategy and Policy at the Naval War College, and he also taught at Columbia University and Williams College.

Dr. Rovner writes extensively on strategy and security.  He is the author of Fixing the Facts: National Security and the Politics of Intelligence (Cornell University Press, 2011), which won the International Studies Association Best Book Award for security studies, and the Edgar S. Furniss Book Award, presented by the Mershon Center at Ohio State University. He has written about intelligence before and after the September 11 attacks, strategy in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and possible responses to nuclear proliferation. In addition to his continuing research on intelligence, he is currently working on the history of strategy and grand strategy, the future of U.S. military force in the Persian Gulf, and the international politics of cybersecurity. 

Dr. Rovner received his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where his doctoral thesis won the Lucian W. Pye Award for Outstanding Dissertation in Political Science.  He also holds an MA in political science from Boston College and a BA in political science from U.C. San Diego.   

Education and Honors


  • Ph.D., Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2008
    • Dissertation: "Intelligence-Policy Relations and the Problem of Politicization"
    • Lucian W. Pye Award for Outstanding Dissertation in Political Science

  • M.A., Political Science, Boston College, 2002
    • Thesis: "The Logic of Military Modernization"
  • B.A., Political Science, University of California, San Diego, 1998
    • Phi Beta Kappa and Cum Laude

Publications and Media


           Winner of the ISSS Best Book Award, International Studies Association; and the Edgar S. Furniss Book Award, Mershon Center, Ohio State University.

  • “Less is More: The Future of the U.S. Military in the Persian Gulf,” with Caitlin Talmadge, The Washington Quarterly, Vol. 37, No. 3 (Fall 2014), pp. 47-60.

  •  “Hegemony, Force Posture, and the Provision of Public Goods: The Once and Future Role of Outside Powers in Securing Persian Gulf Oil,” with Caitlin Talmadge, Security Studies, Vol. 23, No. 3 (July-September 2014), pp. 548-581. 

  • “Delusion of Defeat: The United States and Iraq, 1990-1998,” Journal of Strategic Studies, Vol. 37, No. 4 (August 2014), pp. 482-507. 

  • "Intelligence in the Twitter Age,” International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, Vol. 26, No. 2 (Summer 2013).

  • “Is Politicization Ever a Good Thing?” Intelligence and National Security, Vol. 28, No. 1 (Spring 2013).

  • “After Proliferation: Deterrence Theory and Emerging Nuclear Powers,” in Toshi Yoshihara and James R. Holmes, Strategy in the Second Nuclear Age: Power, Ambition, and the Ultimate Weapon (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2012).

  • "The Heroes of COIN," Orbis, Vol. 56, No. 2 (Spring 2012).

  • “Strategy,” keynote essay in Timothy J. Lynch, ed., Oxford Encyclopedia of American Military and Diplomatic History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013).

  • "AirSea Battle and Escalation Risks,” Policy Brief, No. 12 (University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, January 2012).   

  • "Dominoes on the Durand Line? Overcoming Strategic Myths in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” with Austin Long, Foreign Policy Briefing, No. 92 (Washington, DC: Cato Institute, June 2011).


  • "Dealing with Putin's Strategic Incompetence," War on the Rocks, August 12, 2015.

  • "The Danger of Politicized Intelligence after a Nuclear Deal," Lawfare, May 10, 2015.

  • “Did the New Spooks on the Block Really Fix U.S. Intelligence?” with Austin Long, Foreign Policy (online), April 27, 2015. 

  • “An Intel Success: Tracking Iran’s Nuclear Program,” The National Interest, April 16, 2015. 

  • “Why U.S. Intelligence is Right about Iran,” The Washington Post, Monkey Cage blog, April 13, 2015.

  • “The U.S. just leaked its war plan in Iraq. Why?” with Caitlin Talmadge, The Washington Post, Monkey Cage blog, February 27, 2015.

  • “Forum on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) Report and the United States’ Post-9/11 Policy on Torture,” H-Diplo/ISSF, February 16, 2015.

  • “Hidden Victories,” Lawfare, February 8, 2015.

  • “Never Mind ISIS and Putin — Asia matters more to U.S. strategy,” Dallas Morning News, November 5, 2014.

  • “The Strategic Value of Threat Deflation,” Lawfare, October 5, 2014.

  • “For America’s Military, Less is More in the Middle East,” The National Interest, September 10, 2014.

  • “For the U.S. Military, Less is More in the Persian Gulf,” Dallas Morning News, September 9, 2014.

  • “What Ukraine means for how we study war,” The Washington Post, Monkey Cage blog, August 4, 2014.

  • “Putin’s Grand Strategy is Failing,” The Washington Post, Monkey Cage blog, July 20, 2014.

  • “`Exclusive’ on NSA Surveillance Reveals Almost Nothing New,” War on the Rocks, July 8, 2014. 

  • “The Real Obama Doctrine? Muddling Through,” The National Interest, June 3, 2014.

  • “What to Say to Russia,” The National Interest, March 14, 2014. 

  • “Putin’s Crimea Blunder,” The National Interest, March 6, 2014. 

  • “Obama Sidesteps Phony NSA Debate,” The National Interest, January 24, 2014. 

  • “Reckless Reforms,” with Austin Long, Foreign Policy, January 2, 2014.

  • “To Avoid Failure, You Must Recognize Success,” Dallas Morning News, November 1, 2013.

  • “Three Paths to Nuclear Escalation with China,” The National Interest, July 19, 2012.

  • “The Heroes of COIN,” The National Interest, March 12, 2012.

  • "After Prevention: Prospects for Deterrence in the Wake of a Nuclear Strike on Iran," The National Interest, November 28, 2011.

  • "After Proliferation: How to Deter Iran When it Goes Nuclear," The National Interest, November 21, 2011.

  • “David Petraeus and the Afghanistan Report Card,” The National Interest, October 18, 2011.

  • “Faulty Intelligence,” Foreign Policy, June 23, 2011.

  • “Our Current Strategy in Afghanistan is Built on Strategic Myths,” The National Interest, June 14, 2011.

  • “There’s No Checklist for Counterinsurgency,” with Tim Hoyt, Foreign Policy, November 18, 2010.

  • “The Public Politics of Intelligence Reports,” Boston Globe, September 28, 2006.


  • “Nuclear Weapons and National Security,” C-Span, March 2015.

  • “The Way Forward: Reform and the Future of Intelligence,” University of Texas, October 2014.

  • “Think,” with Krys Boyd, KERA 90.1 FM (NPR Dallas), September 11, 2014.

  • Interview with Cicero Magazine, July 2014.