Nikolas Gvosdev

Nikolas Gvosdev is a professor of national security studies at the U.S. Naval War College, and serves as Senior Fellow, U.S. Global Engagement Program.

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Nikolas Gvosdev's Latest Posts

Learning (Ethical) Lessons from the Greek Revolution

| March 2021

Paul Glastris has a must-read article in the Washington Monthly about the lessons we can learn from the U.S. reaction to the Greek War of Independence (March 25, 2021 marks the bicentennial of the Greek declaration of independence from the Ottoman Empire), for what it says about balancing different baskets of interests and values (self-determination, […]

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Grappling with Competing Ethical Demands: The New Biden Administration

| March 2021

Politico reporter (and friend of the Doorstep Podcast) Nahal Toosi recently asked about how we ought to be comparing and contrasting the current Biden administration’s foreign policies with those of its predecessor. To the extent that we want to see the current presidency as the “anti-Trump” administration, this can obscure points of continuity as well […]

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Deconstructing the Narratives of the Interim National Security Guidance

| March 2021

The Biden/Harris administration has released its interim national security strategic guidance, which is meant to supersede the Trump/Pence administration’s 2017 National Security Strategy in providing direction to the executive departments and agencies of the U.S. government. For the past three years, the program on U.S. global engagement has focused on the question of overarching narratives […]

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Measuring Morality in Foreign Policy: Joseph Nye’s Criteria

| February 2021

Writing in the winter/spring 2019 issue of the American Oxonian, Joseph Nye wrestles with the question: how do we measure the morality of a President’s foreign policy? He notes, “Americans constantly make moral judgments about presidents and foreign policy, but we are seldom clear about the criteria by which we judge a moral foreign policy.” […]

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Revisiting the Ethical Calculus: Which Obligations Take Precedence?

| January 2021

Five years ago, I posed a question which continues to have relevance today. This evening, President Joe Biden is signing executive orders returning the United States to the Paris climate accords and to take other steps to reverse actions taken by his predecessor which were based on an “America First” calculus. Yet, as the new […]

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Jon Finer and the Doorstep

| January 2021

Jon Finer, who has been nominated to serve as the deputy national security advisor in the Biden/Harris administration, gave an interview with GlobalBrief in 2020. He was asked about the impact of domestic politics and trends on U.S. foreign policy formulation. Finer’s response is worth perusing: In some ways, the traditional divide between American foreign […]

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How Will the Biden Administration Adjudicate a Clash of Values?

| December 2020

Simplistic assessments of U.S. foreign policy like to paint the policy divide BETWEEN values and interests. The reality is that policy often must choose between different and competing values. Last month, we noted the “ethical tensions” emerging between different camps that will most likely comprise the Biden/Harris administration’s national security team. Writing in Politico, Nahal […]

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Competing Ethics in the Biden Administration?

| November 2020

Writing in The Atlantic, Thomas Wright outlines three broad “camps” vying for influence over the foreign policy and national security policies of the Biden/Harris administration. There are the “restorationists”–the same term used by the Carnegie Council report for those who seek to return U.S. foreign policy to its broad, pre-2016 parameters; there are the reformers […]

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