Richard K. Betts

Director, Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies; Leo A. Shifrin Professor of War and Peace Studies and Arnold A. Saltzman Professor of War and Peace Studies; Director, International Security Policy Concentration, School of International and Public Affairs

1328 International Affiars
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Richard K. Betts is the Arnold A. Saltzman Professor of War and Peace Studies in the political science department, Director of the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies, and Director of the International Security Policy program in the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. He was Director of National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations for four years and is now an adjunct Senior Fellow there. Previously he was a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and adjunct Lecturer at the Johns Hopkins University’s Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. He also served at different times on the Harvard University faculty as Lecturer and Visiting Professor. He received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in Government from Harvard.

A former staff member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the National Security Council, and the Mondale Presidential Campaign, Betts has been an occasional consultant to the National Intelligence Council and Departments of State and Defense, served on the Military Advisory Panel for three Directors of Central Intelligence in the 1990s and later on the External Advisory Board for the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and was a member of the National Commission on Terrorism. He lectures occasionally at schools such as the National War College, Foreign Service Institute, and service academies. He served briefly as an officer in the U.S. Army.

Betts’ first book, Soldiers, Statesmen, and Cold War Crises, originally published by Harvard University Press, was issued in a second edition by Columbia University Press. He is author of two other Columbia University Press books: Enemies of Intelligence and American Force; three books published by the Brookings Institution: Surprise Attack, Nuclear Blackmail and Nuclear Balance, and Military Readiness; coauthor and editor of three other Brookings books: The Irony of Vietnam, Nonproliferation and U.S. Foreign Policy, and Cruise Missiles; editor of Conflict After the Cold War, published by Pearson; and coeditor of Paradoxes of Strategic Intelligence, from Cass. Betts has published numerous articles on foreign policy, military strategy, intelligence, conventional forces, nuclear weapons, arms trade, collective security, strategic issues in Asia and Europe, terrorism, and other subjects in professional journals. His writings won five prizes, and he received the International Studies Association’s ISSS Distinguished Scholar Award in 2005 and MIT’s Doolittle Award in 2012.

Betts is married to Adela M. Bolet, has three children, and lives in Teaneck, New Jersey.

Publications

Books

American Force: Dangers, Delusions, and Dilemmas in National Security (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011).

Conflict After the Cold War: Arguments on Causes of War and Peace, 5th ed. (New York: Routledge, 2017).

Enemies of Intelligence: Knowledge and Power in American National Security (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007).

Paradoxes of Strategic Intelligence: Essays in Honor of Michael I. Handel, ed. Richard K. Betts and Thomas Mahnken (London: Frank Cass, 2003).

Military Readiness: Concepts, Choices, Consequences (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1995).

Nuclear Blackmail and Nuclear Balance (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1987).

NATO Deterrence Doctrine: No Way Out (Los Angeles: Center for International and Strategic Affairs, University of California at Los Angeles, 1985).

Surprise Attack: Lessons for Defense Planning (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1982).

Cruise Missiles: Technology, Strategy, Politics (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1981).

Nonproliferation and U.S. Foreign Policy, ed. Joseph Yager (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1980); six chapters by Betts.

Leslie H. Belb with Richard K. Betts, The Irony of Vietnam: The System Worked (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1979).

Soldiers, Statesmen, and Cold War Crises (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1977); 2d ed.: (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991).

Book Chapters

“Are Civil-Military Relations Still a Problem?” in American Civil-Military Relations: The Soldier and the State in a New Era, ed. Suzanne C. Nielsen and Don M. Snider (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009).

“The United States and Asia,” in Strategic Asia 2008-09: Challenges and Choices, ed. Ashley Tellis, Mercy Kuo, and Andrew Marble (Washington, D.C.: National Bureau of Asian Research, 2008).

“Politicization of Intelligence: Costs and Benefits,” in Paradoxes of Strategic Intelligence: Essays in Honor of Michael I. Handel, ed. Richard K. Betts and Thomas Mahnken (London: Frank Cass, 2003).

“Memorandum to the President: Military Strategy and Missions,” American Military Strategy: Memos to a President, ed. Philip. D. Zelikow (New York: W.W. Norton, 2001).

“Universal Deterrence or Conceptual Collapse? Liberal Pessimism and Realist Utopianism,” in The Coming Crisis: Nuclear Proliferation, U.S. Interests, and World Order, ed. Victor Utgoff (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000).

“Emerging Trends: An American Perspective,” Australian-American Relations: Looking Toward the Next Century, ed. William T. Tow (Canberra: Australian Institute of International Affairs, 1998).

“A Strategic View of Force Readiness,” in System Dynamics and Systems Thinking in Defence and Government, ed. Keith Linard and David Paterson (Canberra: Australian Defence Force Academy and University of New South Wales, 1997).

Richard K. Betts, Michael Doyle, and John Ikenberry, “An Intellectual Remembrance of Klaus Knorr,” in Power, Economics, and Security: the United States and Japan in Focus, ed. Henry Bienen (Boulder: Westview Press, 1992).

“The International Context of Cuba-U.S. Relations,” in Cuba and the United States: Will the Cold War in the Caribbean End?, ed. Joseph S. Tulchin and Rafael Hernandez (Boulder: Lynne Rienner 1991).

“Heavenly Gains or Earthly Losses? Toward a Balance Sheet for Strategic Defense,” in The Strategic Defense Initiative: Shield or Snare?, ed. Harold Brown (Boulder: Westview Press, 1987).

“Surprise Attack and Preemption,” Hawks, Doves, and Owls, ed. Graham T. Allison, Albert Carnesale, and Joseph Nye (New York: W.W. Norton, 1985).

“Nuclear Weapons,” in The Making of America’s Soviet Policy, ed. Joseph Nye (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984).

“Strategic Surprise for War Termination: Inchon, Dienbienphu, and Tet,” in  Strategic Military Surprise, ed. Klaus Knorr and Patrick Morgan (New Brunswick: Transaction Books, 1983).

“American Strategic Intelligence: Politics, Priorities, and Direction,” Intelligence Policy and National Security, ed. Robert L. Pfaltzgraff, Jr., Uri Ra’anan, and Warren Milberg (London: Macmillan, 1981).

“Managing Foreign and Defense Policy,” in Politics and the Oval Office: Toward Presidential Governance, ed. Arnold Meltsner (San Francisco: Institute for Contemporary Studies, 1981).

 

Journal Articles

“The National Security Act, Seventy Years On,” The American Interest 12, no. 4 (2017): 74-84.

“The Realist Persuasion,” The National Interest No. 139 (2015): 46.

“Pick Your Battles: Ending America’s Era of Permanent War,” Foreign Affairs 92, no. 6 (2014): 15.

“The Lost Logic of Deterrence,” Foreign Affairs 92, no. 2 (2013): 87.

“From Cold War to Hot Peace: The Habit of American Force,” Political Science Quarterly 127, no. 3 (2012): 353.

“Strong Arguments, Weak Evidence,” Security Studies 21, no. 2 (2012): 345.

“American Grand Strategy: Grand vs. Grandiose,” in America’s Path: Grand Strategy for the Next Administrationeds. Richard Fontaine and Kristin M. Lord (Washington, D.C.: Center for New American Security, 2012).

“Conflict or Cooperation? Three Visions Revisited,” Foreign Affairs 89, no. 6 (2010): 186-194.

“The Three Faces of NATO,” The National Interest No. 100 (2009): 31-38.

“Two Faces of Intelligence Failure: September 11 and Iraq’s Missing WMD,” Political Science Quarterly 122, no. 4 (2007). Revised version of Ch. 5 in Enemies of Intelligence.

“Freedom, License, and Responsibility,” International Studies Perspectives 8, no. 4 (2007): 401-409.

“A Disciplined Defense: How to Regain Strategic Solvency,” Foreign Affairs 86, no. 6 (2007): 67-80.

“Not with My Thucydides You Don’t,” The American Interest 2, no. 4 (2007): 140.

 

“Blowtorch Bob in Baghdad,” The American Interest 1, no. 4 (2006).

 

“Maybe I’ll Stop Driving,” Terrorism and Political Violence 17, no. 4 (2005): 507-510.

 

“The Future of Force and U.S. National Security Strategy,” Korean Journal of Defense Analysis 17, no. 3 (2005): 7-26.

 

“The Political Support System for American Primacy,” International Affairs 81, no. 1 (2005): 1-14.

“Striking First: A History of Thankfully Lost Opportunities.” Ethics & International Affairs 17, no. 1 (2003): 17-24.

 

“The First-Year Foreign Policy of Bush the Younger,” The Forum 1, no. 1 (2002)

 

“The Trouble with Strategy: Bridging Policy and Operations,” Joint Force Quarterly  29 (2001): 23.

 

“Compromised Command: Inside NATO’s First War,” Foreign Affairs 80, no. 4 (2001): 126-132.

 

“The Lesser Evil: The Best Way Out of the Balkans,” The National Interest 64, (2001): 53-65.

 

“Is Strategy an Illusion?” International Security  25, no. 2 (2000): 5-50.

 

“Intelligence Warning: Old Problems, New Agendas,” Parameters 28, no. 1 (1998).

 

Nuclear Peace and Conventional War,” The Journal of Strategic Studies 11, no. 1 (1988): 79-95.

“Power, Prospects, and Priorities: Choices for Strategic Change,” Naval War College Review 50, no. 1 (1997): 9-22.

 

“Should Strategic Studies Survive?,” World Politics 50, no. 1 (1997): 7-33.

“The Coming Defense Train Wreck… And What to Do About It,” Washington Quarterly 33 (1996): 329-343.

 

“The Downside of the Cutting Edge,” National Interest 45, no. 45 (1996): 80-83.

“Correspondence,” International Security 17, no. 3, (1992): 188-200.

 

“Measuring Military Readiness: Analytical Complexity and Policy Confusion,” Security Studies 1 (1992): 483-513.

 

“Surprise, Scholasticism, and Strategy,” International Studies Quarterly 33 (1989): 329-343.

 

“NATO’s Mid-Life Crisis,” Foreign Affairs 68, no. 2 (1989): 37-52.

 

“Policymakers and Intelligence Analysts: Love, Hate, or Indifference?” Intelligence and National Security 3, no. 1 (1988): 184.

 

“Compound Deterrence vs. No-First-Use: What’s Wrong Is What’s Right,” Orbis 28, no. 4 (1985): 697.

 

Conventional Strategy, Unconventional Criticism and Conventional Wisdom,” Jerusalem Papers on Peace Problems, no. 36 (1984).

“Controlling Risks in the East-West Conflict,” Problems of Communism 33, no. 3 (1984).

 

“Washington, Tokyo, and Northeast Asian Security: A Survey,” The Journal of Strategic Studies 6, no. 4 (1983): 5.

 

“Warning Dilemmas: Normal Theory vs. Exceptional Theory,” Orbis 26, no. 4 (1983): 828.

 

“Conventional Forces: What Price Readiness?” Survival  25, no. 1, (1983): 25-34.

 

“Nuclear Surprise Attack: Deterrence, Defense, and Conceptual Contradictions in American Policy,” The Jerusalem Journal of International Relations 5, no. 3 (1981): 73.

 

“Hedging Against Surprise Attack,” Survival 23, no. 4 (1981): 146-156.

 

“From Changing the Guard to Guarding the Change,” Orbis 25, no. 2 (1981).

“Cruise Missiles: Technology, Strategy, Politics,” The Washington Quarterly 4, no. 3 (1981): 66.

 

“Surprise Attack: NATO’s Political Vulnerability,” International Security 5, no. 4, (1981): 117-149.

 

“Interests, Burdens, and Persistence: Asymmetries between Washington and Hanoi,” International Studies Quarterly 24, no. 4 (1980): 520.

 

“A Diplomatic Bomb for South Africa?,”  International Security 4, no. 2 (1979): 91-115.

 

“Nuclear Peace: Mythology and Futurology,” The Journal of Strategic Studies 2, no. 1, (1979): 83-101.

 

Other Articles

“Are American Civil-Military Relations Still A Problem?,” in American Civil-Military Relations: The Soldier and the State in a New Era, ed. Suzanne C. Nielsen and Don M. Snider (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007). 

 

“Symposium Comments on Iran and Nuclear Weapons,” The National Interest (2007).

 

“Look to Bosnia, Not Vietnam, for a Realistic Solution,” Financial Times, 26 October 2006.

“How Superpowers Become Impotent,” Los Angeles Times, 14 August 2006.

 

“A Century of Intervention, Regarded with a Cold Eye,” New York Times, May 2, 2006.

“The Lure of Military Society,” The American Conservative, 23 May 2005.

 

U. S. National Security Strategy: Lenses and Landmarks”, The Princeton Project on National Security (2004).

 

“Intelligence Looks Broke But Does It Need Fixing?,” Baltimore Sun, 2 May 2004.

 

Statement and testimony in U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, Hearing: S.1867 — A Bill to Establish the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, 107th Cong., 2d sess. (2002).

 

“Strategic Ambiguity in East Asia: Benefits and Costs,” Strategic Environment in Northeast Asia at the Beginning of the 21st Century, Proceedings of the NIDS International Symposium on Security Affairs (Tokyo: National Institute for Defense Studies, June 1999).

“Additional Views,” in Making Intelligence Smarter: The Future of U.S. Intelligence: Report of an Independent Task Force (New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1996).

Statement and testimony in U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Hearing: Renewal and Reform: U.S. Intelligence in a Changing World, 104th Cong., 1st and 2d sess., (1996).

 

“Why Mementos Matter,” Newsweek, 17 April 1995.

 

Statement and testimony on Section 402 of S.2082 in House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Hearing: Confirmation of CIA Officials, 103d Cong., 2d sess. (1994).

 

“Outlaw With a Bomb,” New York Times, 31 December 1993.

 

Richard K. Betts with John Bresnan et al., Time for a Critical Decision on Vietnam, (New York: East Asian Institute, Columbia University, 1992).

 

Richard K. Betts with John Bresnan et al., Time is Running Out in Cambodia (New York: East Asian Institute, Columbia University, 1992).

 

Statement requested by U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence for hearings on S. 1003, printed in Congressional Record — Senate, 16 October 1991.

 

“If the U.S. Backs Rebels,” New York Times, 30 May 1985.

 

Richard K. Betts with Masashi Nishihara, “U.S.-Japan Security Relations,” in Report of the Sixth Shimoda Conference (Tokyo and New York: Japan Center for International Exchange and Japan Society, 1984).

“Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis? Reply to Luttwak,” International Security 8, no. 2 (1983): 180-182.

 

Statement and testimony on nuclear proliferation implications of foreign investment in U.S. firms, in U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Government Operations, Subcommittee on Commerce, Consumer, and Monetary Affairs, Hearings: Federal Response to OPEC Country Investments in the United States, 97th Cong., 1st sess., (1981).

 

Statement and testimony on arms transfer policy of the Reagan administration, in U.S. Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations, Hearing: Conventional Arms Sales, 97th Cong., 1st sess. (1981). Similar version published as “Whom Should We Arm?”, Brookings Bulletin, XVIII, no. 1 (1981).

 

“How to Balance Dirty Tricks and Democracy,” Newsday, 21 February 1980.

 

“From Vietnam to Yemen,” New York Times, 25 March 1979.