Belfer Center Home > Experts > Stephen M. Walt

« Back to Stephen M. Walt

Stephen M. Walt

Stephen M. Walt

Robert and Renée Belfer Professor of International Affairs; Faculty Chair, International Security Program

Member of the Board, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Contact:
Telephone: (617) 495-5712
Fax: (617)-495-8963
Email: stephen_walt@harvard.edu

 

 

By Program/Project

 

International Security

March 3, 2014

"No Contest"

Op-Ed, Foreign Policy

By Stephen M. Walt, Robert and Renée Belfer Professor of International Affairs; Faculty Chair, International Security Program

"...[R]ealism tells you major powers care a lot about security and are often ruthless in defending vital interests, especially close to home. It recognizes that great powers ignore international law when it gets in their way (as the United States has done repeatedly), and it sees relations between major powers as a ceaseless struggle for position, even when that struggle is waged for essentially defensive reasons."

 

 

September 2013

"Leaving Theory Behind: Why Simplistic Hypothesis Testing is Bad for International Relations"

Journal Article, European Journal of International Relations, Special Issue: The End of International Relations Theory?, issue 3, volume 19

By John J. Mearsheimer, Editorial Board Member, Quarterly Journal: International Security and Stephen M. Walt, Robert and Renée Belfer Professor of International Affairs; Faculty Chair, International Security Program

Theory creating and hypothesis testing are both critical components of social science, but the former is ultimately more important. Yet, in recent years, International Relations scholars have devoted less effort to creating and refining theories or using theory to guide empirical research. Instead, they increasingly focus on 'simplistic hypothesis testing,' which emphasizes discovering well-verified empirical regularities. Privileging simplistic hypothesis testing is a mistake, however, because insufficient attention to theory leads to misspecified empirical models or misleading measures of key concepts.

 

 

October 17, 2013

"Applying Theory: A Scholar's Lessons for Policymakers and the Academy"

Journal Article, Monitor, International Interviews, issue 1/1, volume 6

By Phoebe Benich, Michael Campbell and Stephen M. Walt, Robert and Renée Belfer Professor of International Affairs; Faculty Chair, International Security Program

"In our view, the field has moved away from a careful reliance on theory, and is just mindlessly going out and testing hypotheses without thinking very hard about what's really causing what."

 

 

August 26, 2013

"Weapons Assad Uses Shouldn't Affect U.S. Policy"

Op-Ed, New York Times

By Stephen M. Walt, Robert and Renée Belfer Professor of International Affairs; Faculty Chair, International Security Program

"...[I]t is not good that Assad's forces may have used chemical weapons, but it is not obvious why the choice of weaponry changes the calculus of U.S. interests in this case.  The brutal nature of the Assad regime has been apparent for decades, and its forces have already killed thousands with conventional means.  Does it really matter whether Assad is killing his opponents using 500-pound bombs, mortar shells, cluster munitions, machine guns, icepicks or sarin gas?"

 

 

Laura Poitras / Praxis Films

July 8, 2013

"Snowden Deserves an Immediate Presidential Pardon"

Op-Ed, Financial Times

By Stephen M. Walt, Robert and Renée Belfer Professor of International Affairs; Faculty Chair, International Security Program

"Mr Snowden stands accused of stealing government property and unauthorised dissemination of classified information. But he did not pass valuable secrets to a foreign government or sell them for personal gain — as convicted spies such as Aldrich Ames or Jonathan Pollard did. On the contrary, he gave up a well-paid job and put his own freedom in jeopardy for a principle."

 

 

April 4, 2013

"Amateur Hour"

Op-Ed, Chicago Tribune

By Stephen M. Walt, Robert and Renée Belfer Professor of International Affairs; Faculty Chair, International Security Program

"Countries like South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia and others are looking for clear signs of U.S. leadership, which means we need the most qualified and skilled people we can find in key diplomatic positions. We don't want ambassadors who are just reciting talking points prepared by others; we need ambassadors throughout Asia who have extensive knowledge of the region's history and the complicated economic and security landscape there. And, yes, it would be nice if they could read and speak the language."

 

 

March 20, 2013

"'Iran is the Main Beneficiary of the Iraq War'"

Magazine or Newspaper Article, The European

By Max Tholl and Stephen M. Walt, Robert and Renée Belfer Professor of International Affairs; Faculty Chair, International Security Program

"Iran has always been a major power in that region. Under Saddam however, Iran and Iraq were bitter enemies who fought a long war and were strongly opposed to one another. There was almost a rough balance of power between the two countries. By reducing Iraq's power and by allowing the Shia to become the dominant political force in Iraq, the US removed the main country balancing Iran, and helped bring to power a government that has at least some sympathies and links to Iran. So, Iran is by far the main strategic beneficiary of the Iraq War, which made it even more difficult for the US and its allies to deal with the country."

 

 

AP Photo

December 14, 2012

"The Interview: Stephen M. Walt"

Op-Ed, The Diplomat

By Zachary Keck and Stephen M. Walt, Robert and Renée Belfer Professor of International Affairs; Faculty Chair, International Security Program

"The United States is out of Iraq and is getting out of Afghanistan, but the big question is whether we can keep ourselves from being dragged back into the Middle East quagmire in the future. The best course in the Middle East would be to act as an "offshore balancer": ready to intervene if the balance of power is upset, but otherwise keeping our military footprint small. We should also have normal relationship with states like Israel and Saudi Arabia, instead of the counterproductive "special relationships" we have today. Steps like these would free up the resources for a more robust presence in Asia, should that become advisable down the road. But we should act like an "offshore balancer" in Asia as well...."

 

 

September 2012

"Theory and Policy in International Relations: Some Personal Reflections"

Journal Article, Yale Journal of International Affairs, issue 2, volume 7

By Stephen M. Walt, Robert and Renée Belfer Professor of International Affairs; Faculty Chair, International Security Program

"It has been nearly thirty years since I received my PhD. At that time, I was convinced that systematic scholarly research could uncover and verify timeless truths about international politics and foreign policy, and that once those discoveries had been made, a grateful policy community would quickly absorb them and adopt the right prescriptions. With the passage of time, I've gained both a greater respect for the limits of what social science can accomplish and a greater appreciation for the imperviousness of the policy community to reasoned discourse, especially in the United States. Even if scholars were able to produce more convincing analyses—itself a debatable proposition—overcoming the entrenched interests that shape what policy makers choose to do is not easy."

 

 

AP Photo

July 13, 2012

"Hillary Clinton's Tenure: Not So Bad"

Op-Ed, Star Tribune

By Stephen M. Walt, Robert and Renée Belfer Professor of International Affairs; Faculty Chair, International Security Program

"Which is not to say that Clinton has performed badly. On the contrary, I'd give her high marks for executing the job she was asked to perform, especially given the constraints in which she had to operate."

 

SUBSCRIBE

Receive email updates on the most pressing topics in science and int'l affairs.

Events Calendar

We host a busy schedule of events throughout the fall, winter and spring. Past guests include: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former Vice President Al Gore, and former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev.