Unforced Error: The Risks of Confrontation with Iran

Tensions are rising between the United States and Iran. For its part, the Trump administration’s actions are driving us down a path where miscalculation is increasingly likely, seemingly without a clear understanding of what it’s actually seeking to achieve. Yet, by repeatedly escalating the situation — particularly in the military realm — the administration risks an unplanned clash with Iranian-backed forces in the Gulf, Iraq, or Syria. You can’t always get what you want. Sometimes, instead, you get a war.

Peace, War, and Liberty: Understanding U.S. Foreign Policy

In Libertarianism.org’s new book Peace, War, and Liberty: Understanding U.S. Foreign Policy, Cato scholar Christopher A. Preble traces the history of U.S. foreign policy from the American Founding to the present, examining the ideas that have animated it, asking whether America’s policy choices have made the world safer and freer, and considering the impact of those choices on freedom at home. Preble explains the need to question the assumptions that drive U.S. foreign policy in the modern era―especially the assumption that America can and should use force to shape the international order.

America’s Nuclear Crossroads: A Forward-Looking Anthology

As the United States adjusts to a changing global balance of power, nuclear deterrence is poised to return to a level of importance in U.S. national security not seen since the end of the Cold War. However, U.S. nuclear strategy will have to contend with emerging issues like arms control in a multipolar world, the evolution of strategic technology, and the new contours of great power competition. America’s Nuclear Crossroads, a forthcoming anthology from the Cato Institute, examines nine pressing issues in nuclear deterrence and arms control facing U.S. policymakers. The full anthology will be released later this spring, but three advance chapters are currently available. To receive email updates about the project, including notification of the full publication and information about anthology-related speaking events, click here.


Monthly newsletter on foreign policy and national security.

Cato Studies

Of Special Note

Our Foreign Policy Choices

The world today is certainly safer for Americans than it was under the existential threat posed by the Soviet Union. But the world is undoubtedly more complex, as nonstate actors, shifting alliances, and diverse domestic political factors complicate U.S. foreign policy. A robust debate on America’s foreign policy choices is urgently needed.

Foreign Policy Book Nook

Reading List

In the hope of inducing further study and better acquainting people with Cato’s work on defense and foreign policy, we’ve compiled a short bibliography of essays, speeches, and books on various national security topics. The list is designed to be an entry point for individuals interested in learning about a foreign policy of restraint.


The Cyberskeptics

In the last few years, concerns about cybercrime, cyberterrorism, and cyberwar have escalated dramatically in the United States. Billions of dollars are being thrown at these problems, and most of the discussion is alarmist in the extreme. This page challenges the assumption that cyberdoom is approaching.

New Podcast: Power Problems

New Podcast: Power Problems

Power Problems is a bi-weekly podcast from the Cato Institute. Hosts Trevor Thrall and Emma Ashford offer a skeptical take on U.S. foreign policy, and discuss today’s big questions in international security with guests from across the political spectrum. Follow the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #FPPowerProblems.