CSIS Launches Alliances and American Leadership Project

WASHINGTON, November 28, 2016: The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) is pleased to announce the launch of its “Alliances and American Leadership Project.”

For decades, America’s worldwide network of alliances has been a central pillar of the liberal international system, contributing immeasurably to global stability and to U.S. security. Today, however, longstanding assumptions about U.S. foreign policy are up in the air, and the future of alliances cannot be taken for granted. There is a sense that the West is in retreat and that the liberal order is fraying. The United States and its allies face rising threats in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Yet their alliances are not keeping pace and Americans and their allies are uncertain about how to respond.

The CSIS Alliances and American Leadership Project aims to address these uncertainties by going back to first principles and reexamining the role and relevance of America’s post–World War II alliances and the growing role of informal security partnerships. The project will assess whether the benefits of alliances still offset their costs, areas in which allies need to lift their game, and how alliances can adapt to the challenges we face in the twenty-first century—including coercion and “hybrid” warfare by revisionist powers; terrorism; cyberattacks; and the spread of nuclear weapons.

To stimulate public discussion and inform debate among U.S. and allied policymakers, the Project will feature a series of events and publications addressing three key research themes:

  1. Alliance institutions and leadership, including the underlying logic of alliances, their role and real-world impact, and how alliances can bolster the liberal international system;

  2. Alliances in operation, including burden sharing; how allied military forces can build greater interoperability; alliance management challenges and how to overcome them; and

  3. Understanding and engaging U.S. and allied public opinion, particularly in light of the growing gap between public and “elite” perceptions.

“We are going to need strong alliances more than ever,” said Andrew Shearer, project director, CSIS senior advisor on Asia Pacific security, and former national security adviser to Prime Ministers John Howard and Tony Abbott of Australia. “But our existing alliances are not keeping pace with global threats. We urgently need to renew and adapt them, and that will require sustained political commitment and leadership.”

You can follow the Alliances and American Leadership Project’s work at