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Emma Ashford is a research fellow in Defense and Foreign Policy, with expertise in international security and the politics of energy. She is currently writing a book on the politics and foreign policies of petrostates, including Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela.

Her recent research includes work on the efficacy of U.S. sanctions on Russia, the future of U.S. Middle East policy, U.S.-Saudi relations, and the increasing role of Asian states in the politics and economics of the Persian Gulf.

Emma has published long-form articles in publications such as Foreign Affairs, the Texas National Security Review, and Strategic Studies Quarterly. Her opinion pieces have been featured in the New York TimesLos Angeles TimesForeign PolicyVoxThe National Interest, and War on the Rocks, among others.

Ashford is the co-host of the Power Problems podcast, a biweekly podcast which explores key questions in international security with guests from across the political spectrum.

She holds a PhD in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia, and an MA from American University’s School of International Service.

More from Emma Ashford


Brave Nuclear World

Ink Stick. August 1, 2019.

IRAQ 2.0?

Ink Stick Media. May 9, 2019.

Trump’s Wisdom on Syria and Afghanistan vs. His Rashness on Venezuela

New York Daily News. February 7, 2019.

Cato Studies

Unforced Error: The Risks of Confrontation with Iran

Policy Analysis No. 822. October 9, 2017.

Our Foreign Policy Choices: Rethinking America’s Global Role

White Paper. July 18, 2016.

Friends Like These: Why Petrostates Make Bad Allies

Policy Analysis No. 770. March 31, 2015.


Libertarianism, Restraint, and the Bipartisan Future

Texas National Security Review. November 30, 2018.

Securing Energy from the Gulf amid Geopolitical Strife: Japan, South Korea, and the GCC

The Gulf States., Asia and the Indian Ocean: Ensuring the Security of the Sea Lanes. June 30, 2018.

Unbalanced: Rethinking America’s Commitment to the Middle East

Strategic Studies Quarterly. Vol. 12. No. 1. Spring 2018.

Cato Reviews & Journals

9. Dealing with ISIS in Iraq and Syria

Cato Handbook for Policymakers. Cato Handbook for Policymakers, 8th Edition (2017).