Michael O'Hanlon

Headshot of Michael O'Hanlon

Michael O'Hanlon

Professorial Lecturer

Part-time Faculty


Michael O'Hanlon is a senior fellow, and director of research, in Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution, where he specializes in U.S. defense strategy, the use of military force, and American national security policy. He co-directs the Security and Strategy Team, the Defense Industrial Base working group, and the Africa Security Initiative within the Foreign Policy program, as well. He is an adjunct professor at Columbia, Georgetown, and Syracuse universities, and a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies. O’Hanlon was also a member of the External Advisory Board at the Central Intelligence Agency from 2011-2012.

O’Hanlon’s latest books include The Senkaku Paradox: Risking Great Power War over Limited Stakes (Brookings, 2019); Beyond NATO: A New Security Architecture for Eastern Europe (Brookings, 2017); The Future of Land Warfare (Brookings, 2015); and Strategic Reassurance and Resolve: U.S.-China Relations in the 21st Century (with Jim Steinberg, Princeton University Press, 2014). Previously, he wrote Bending History: Barack Obama’s Foreign Policy (with Martin Indyk and Kenneth Lieberthal, Brookings, 2012); A Skeptic’s Case for Nuclear Disarmament (Brookings, 2010); The Science of War (Princeton University Press, 2009); Crisis on the Korean Peninsula (with Mike Mochizuki, McGraw-Hill, 2003); Winning Ugly: NATO’s War to Save Kosovo (with Ivo Daalder, Brookings, 2000); and Technological Change and the Future of Warfare (Brookings, 2000), among other books.

O’Hanlon has written several hundred op-eds in newspapers including The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Times, The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Japan Times, USA Today, and Pakistan’s Dawn paper. His articles have appeared in Foreign Affairs, The National Interest, Survival, Washington Quarterly, Joint Forces Quarterly, and International Security, among other publications. O’Hanlon has appeared on television or spoken on the radio some 4,000 times since September 11, 2001.

O'Hanlon was an analyst at the Congressional Budget Office from 1989-1994. He also worked previously at the Institute for Defense Analyses. His Ph.D. from Princeton is in public and international affairs; his bachelor's and master's degrees, also from Princeton, are in the physical sciences. He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Congo/Kinshasa (the former Zaire) from 1982-1984, where he taught college and high school physics in French. Earlier, he worked on a dairy farm in Upstate New York, where he grew up, and attempted (unsuccessfully) with a team of Princeton experimental physicists in the “Gravity Group” to disprove Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.

Arms treaties, Asian security issues, Homeland security, Iraq policy, Military technology, Missile defense, North Korea policy, Peacekeeping operations, Taiwan policy, Military analysis, U.S. defense strategy and budget.

Ph.D. Public/International Affairs (1991), Princeton University

M.A. Public/International Affairs (1988), Princeton University

M.S.E. Engineering (1987), Princeton University

B.A. Physics (1982), Princeton University