About Adam Elkus

Adam Elkus is a PhD student at George Mason University in Computational Social Science. He blogs on strategy, technology, defense and national security, and research methodology.

Reading List Bonananza–Or Not.

Prompted by Citizen Fouche, I have an idea for a reading list. One of the many problems with professional reading lists is that they are unlikely to be read by those within the professional institution they are intended for.

Hence mine is short and tries to be at least somewhat accessible. Friends and relatives who have often asked for me to give them strategy and foreign policy reading lists often have complained that I’m a bit too academic, so here I’m trying to go for the bare bones. Continue reading


FHI on London Riots

Over the coming week, we’ll be discussing the strategic, operational, and tactical implications of the London riots. Given that for many of our readers in the Western world, these events may be “coming to a theater near you” as economic and political divides intensify, the importance of a sober and analytical recounting of the riots (from a wide range of expertise) is certainly high. Stay tuned.

A Counterterrorism Net Assessment: Bin Laden’s Legacy

I have an unpublished paper (one of a growing pile that I’m trying to sort through) on the need for the use of net assessment techniques for the global war on terror. Although net assessment (as practiced by the titular office) is difficult to really sum up, it can best be understood as evaluating a long-term competition (different from a war–more like, say, something comparable to the US vs. Soviet Union) by tallying up all of the Blue (our side) and Red (the enemy) data in one place for an comprehensive diagnostic picture of what the competition looked like.

A diagnostic assessment shows who is ahead in the competition, where the important “markets” are, and where competitors ought to be best positioning themselves to be more competitive than theirs adversaries. Sometimes net assessments are also local in nature–such as exploring the impact of one weapon on the competition or just looking at one military competition (such as the military use of space as a competition itself).

To my knowledge, this method–borne out of the late Cold War–has never been used in counterterrorism. Daveed Gartenstein-Ross’s new book provides a framework for how it can be responsibly done, free of the politicization that is endemic to the post-9/11 CT debate but yet without pulling any punches. Continue reading

One Ring to Rule Them All

I felt rather fortunate to be abroad during the debt debate. But one thought I had while (to get very Tom Friedman-like, listening to Jay-Z and Bun B. talk about their own unique understanding of microeconomics in “Big Pimpin” while moving around the outskirts of Shanghai) was that the current spectacle has largely exposed the 20-year debate over future American grand strategy to be rooted on a fundamentally false assumptions. In fact, one might, as Joseph Fouche often does, compare them to the titular fantasy quest in Lord of the Rings. Why?

To sum it up, we neither understand what grand strategy is nor have realistic expectations of how to make it “work” in our unique domestic political system.  Continue reading