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
(214) 768-3734

Download CV | Download bio | Website


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.  His recent book, Fixing the Facts: National Security and the Politics of Intelligence (Cornell University Press, 2011), is a wide-ranging study about how leaders use and misuse intelligence.  Rovner's book combines a new theory of intelligence with a deep historical analysis of critical moments in U.S. foreign policy, including key decisions about the wars in Vietnam and Iraq.  Widely praised by reviewers, Fixing the Facts 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. 

Rovner's research interests also include international relations theory, nuclear weapons, grand strategy, and U.S. defense policy.  He has written on 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 issues relating to U.S. force posture in the Persian Gulf, the theory and history of counterinsurgency, and contemporary deterrence theory. 

A frequent public speaker, Rovner seeks to encourage a wide-ranging discussion on the issues of force and war.  He also seeks to promote close collaboration between political scientists and historians.  As reviews editor for The Journal of Strategic Studies, he has deliberately brought together scholars from different disciplines in order to encourage work that is both theoretically rigorous and historically rich.  

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.  He lives with his wife, Nicole Nicas Rovner, and their sons Desmond and Maxwell.   

Education and Honors

  • Ph.D., Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2008
    • Dissertation: "Intelligence-Policy Relations and the Problem of Politicization"
  • 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, Speeches and Presentations


  • Fixing the Facts: National Security and the Politics of Intelligence (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2011).
    • Winner of the ISSS Best Book Award, International Studies Association; and the Edgar S. Furniss Book Award, Mershon Center, Ohio State University.
  • "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, Nuclear 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);

Conference Presentations

  • “Fixing the Facts or Missing the Mark? Intelligence and the Politics of Threat Assessment"
    • Ohio State University, Mershon Center, October 2013
    • University of Ottawa, Center for International Policy Studies, May 2012
    • Boston College, Clough Center and Department of Political Science, February 2012
    • University of Texas, Strauss Center, October 2011
    • Princeton University, Center for International Security Studies, April 2011
  • "After Proliferation: Two Scenarios for Deterring a Nuclear Iran"
    • MIT Lincoln Laboratories, May 2013
    • George Washington University, Institute for Security and Conflict Studies, September 2012
    • Defense Intelligence Agency, June 2012
    • Cato Institute, March 2012
  • "The Heroes of COIN"
    • U.S. Air War College, October 2013
    • ISA-New England, November 20122
    • International Studies Association, March 2011
  • "After America: Prospects for Security and Stability in the Persian Gulf"
    • ISSS/ISAC, October 2013
    • George Washington University, Institute for Security and Conflict Studies, December 2012