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Emma Ashford is a research fellow with expertise in international security and the politics of energy. Her research focuses on the politics and foreign policies of petrostates, particularly in Russia and various Middle Eastern countries. Her dissertation explored the ways in which oil production and export shapes conflict, including ongoing wars in Ukraine, Yemen and Syria.

Ashford’s recent research examines the extent to which international sanctions imposed on Russia have been effective, as well as their impact on U.S. and European businesses. She was formerly a predoctoral fellow at the University of Virginia. Her work has been published in Foreign Affairs, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Foreign Policy, National Interest, U.S. News and World Report, Newsweek, and Al Jazeera America, among others, and she has been a frequent guest on television and radio.

Ashford 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

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.


Hegemonic Blackmail: Entrapment in Civil War Intervention

Vol. 23. No. 2. July 6, 2017.

Not-So-Smart Sanctions

Foreign Affairs. Vol. 95. No. 1. January 2016.

Cato Reviews & Journals

9. Dealing with ISIS in Iraq and Syria

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