The Strobe Talbott Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology (Talbott Center) brings together experts on U.S. grand strategy; U.S. military affairs, including defense modernization, innovation, and technology; American alliances and security partnerships; transnational threats; arms control; and U.S. foreign policy in the changing international order. The Center is named after former Brookings President Strobe Talbott to recognize his remarkable contributions to the institution and to American foreign policy over his long career in journalism, public service, and academia.
The Talbott Center convenes major events throughout the year, including with top leadership from the Departments of Defense and State, the intelligence community, international organizations, and other policy actors. It hosts regular events and meetings as part of its Africa Security Initiative, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative, Defense Industrial Base Working Group, Initiative on Nonstate Armed Actors, and Project on International Order and Strategy. The center also hosts a group of Federal Executive Fellows each year, who are rising leaders in the U.S. military and other security organizations. Scholars write in-depth research in the form of policy briefs, reports, and books; they also regularly publish op-eds and comment in prominent news outlets.
Talbott Center scholars engage with their colleagues across the Brookings Foreign Policy program who focus on regional issues, especially around questions of how the United States can respond to China’s changing strategy, Russia’s aggressive turn, North Korean and Iranian provocations, India’s rise, and instability in the Middle East. Along with the Center on the United States and Europe, the Center is currently co-producing a paper series on the implications of the war in Ukraine. The Center’s work also contributes to research across Brookings on technology, often in collaboration with the Artificial Intelligence and Emerging Technology Initiative.
The Talbott Center’s work focuses on three overarching themes:
- American leadership in the 21st century: U.S. grand strategy, alliances, and the multilateral order
Following actual and perceived failures of U.S. strategy in the Middle East, the economic and political rise of China and its adoption of a more aggressive strategy, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the emergence of new technologies that have amplified the reach of transnational actors and empowered state aggression, debates continue as to whether the core grand strategy of the United States since World War II remains the right strategy today. As some call for the United States to pull back from international leadership roles, Center scholars are meeting the urgent need to study the implications of these dynamics for American foreign and defense policy and how multilateral institutions should be adapted to respond to the changing international landscape.
- National security: U.S. defense policy, strategic weapons, and technology
Talbott Center scholars work on “hard power” questions of defense modernization, military readiness and operations, defense budgeting, war planning, and deterrence in the context of a return to great-power competition vis-à-vis Russia and China. Among other questions, scholars investigate how the application of modern and emerging technologies to defense operations will simultaneously affect and be affected by the changing dynamics of great power competition. Scholars also consider the implications of changing technology and geopolitical realities to U.S. nuclear doctrine, the American approach to strategic arms control and global strategic stability, nuclear nonproliferation, and the potential opportunities and challenges posed by outer space and cyberspace as new domains of competition.
- Transnational threats: nonstate actors and sub-state challenges
For all of the focus on great power rivalry, many American troops currently are deployed to battle not the armies of state rivals, but transnational and subnational networks of terrorists, rebels, and criminals. While particularly evident across the wider Middle East, it is also the primary mission of American, allied, and multilateral forces deployed in Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. Talbott Center research includes a focus on these illicit actors, networks, and economies, and associated challenges.