Walt, Stephen M. 1955-

views updated

Walt, Stephen M. 1955-
(Stephen Martin Walt)


Born July 2, 1955, in Los Alamos, NM; son of a physicist and a school teacher; married; children: two. Education: Stanford University, B.A., 1977; University of California, Berkeley, M.A., 1978, Ph.D., 1983.


Office—John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, 79 J.F.K. St., Cambridge, MA 02138.E-mail—[email protected].


Center for Naval Analyses, Alexandria, VA, staff member, 1980-81; Harvard University, Center for Science and International Affairs, Cambridge, MA, research fellow, 1981-84; Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, DC, resident associate, 1986-87; Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, former assistant professor; University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, associate professor, 1989-95, professor, 1995-99, master of the social science collegiate division and deputy dean of social sciences, 1996-99; Harvard University, Cambridge, Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Affairs and academic dean of John F. Kennedy School of Government, 1999—. Member, Council on Foreign Relations, 2002—, member of task force on transatlantic relations, 2003-04; Carnegie Endowment for Peace, resident associate; Brookings Institute, guest scholar; consultant for the Institute of Defense Analyses, the Center for Naval Analyses, and the National Defense University.


International Studies Association, International Institute for Strategic Studies, American Academy of Arts and Sciences (fellow), American Political Science Association, Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations.


Research grant, U.S. Institute of Peace, 1987-88; Edgar S. Fumiss National SecurityBook Award, 1998, for The Origins of Alliance;faculty research grant, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, 2001-02; travel grant, Ford Foundation, 2001-02; Hugh E. Nott Prize, 2003, for "American Primacy: Its Prospects and Pitfalls";American Academy of Arts and Sciences fellowship, 2005.


Analysts in War and Peace: McGwire, McConnell, and Admiral Gorshkov, Center for Naval Analyses (Alexandria, VA), 1987.

The Origins of Alliances, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 1987.

Revolution and War, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 1997

Taming American Power: The Global Response to U.S. Primacy, Norton (New York, NY), 2005.

Contributor to numerous books, including The Coming Crisis: Nuclear Proliferation, U.S. Interests, and World Order, edited by Victor A. Utgoff, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 2000; Allied Force or Forced Allies?,edited by M. Brawley and P. Martin, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2001; America Unrivaled: The Future of the Balance of Power, edited by G. John Ikenberry, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 2002; and Political Science: State of the Discipline III,edited by Ira Katznelson and Helen Milner, W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 2002. Contributor to publications such as the London Review of Books, Annual Review of Political Science, Boston Review, Naval War College Review, International Security, Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, National Interest, American Political Science Review, Survival, Security Studies, and International Studies Quarterly. Member of editorial board of Foreign Policy, Security Studies, International Relations,and Journal of Cold War Studies. Coeditor, Cornell Studies in Security Affairs.


The son of a physicist and a schoolteacher, Stephen M. Walt was raised in a household in which intellectual pursuits were highly valued. His father was a military buff who was particularly interested in international affairs and history, and the younger Walt also developed an early fascination for military history. After forays into biochemistry and history as an undergraduate, Walt found his way into the field of international relations, eventually earning a doctoral degree and teachingpolitical science at the university level.

Walt began his writing career in the early 1980s with contributions to various scholarly journals and books. He went on to publish three books centering on foreign policy and international relations. He described the general theme of his books to Harry Kriesler on theUniversity of California Berkeley's Institute of International Studies Web site: "The genesis for each of the books was things I observed, not so much in the scholarly world but rather things I was observing in the policy debates that were happening at the time." Speaking of his first book, Walt remarked: "The Origins of Alliances was actually driven by the realization that many debates about U.S. foreign policy were, in fact, debates about what would cause states to either back the United States, ally with us, or ally against us." Walt introduces in this book the theory of "balance of threat," arguing that not only do states balance against rising powers but also against perceived threats. New Republic contributor Ronald Steel described The Origins of Alliances as a "meticulous and instructive study," further adding that it "offers a different way of thinking about our security, and thus about our diplomacy. It ought to be read by anyone with a serious interest in understanding why our foreign policy is so often self-defeating."

Revolution and War was published ten years later and focuses on the international impact of revolutions. Steven Jones, writing for the Teaching Politics Web site, commented that the book "can be read on two levels: first, as a theoretical work which uses the problem of revolutions and war to expand and inform neorealist theories of international relations and/or second, as a substantive work which uses neorealist theory to expand our understanding of revolutionary states. Walt's book makes important contributions at both levels." Journal of Interdisciplinary Historyreviewer Jonathan M. DiCicco remarked: "Revolution and War is a fascinating book, reflecting an interdisciplinary approach to the study of political events and processes. Walt elucidates leaders' decisions and states' interactions in a thoughtful, illuminating manner."

In Taming American Power: The Global Response to U.S. Primacy, Walt first describes the depth of American power and how it is perceived by the rest of the world; he then discusses how this power should be wielded, and how other nations can contend with the imbalance of power. New York Times Book Reviewcontributor Anatol Lieven commented: "The greatest value of Taming American Power, Stephen M. Walt's brilliant contribution to the American foreign policy debate, is that it places its readers in the minds of the leaders and citizens of other states, including the country's rivals. This is something that really ought to be among the most obvious duties of all foreign policy analysts." Endy Zemenides described the book in a review for the National Strategy Forum as "a new and valuable contribution to the debate over American power. … Walt produces what has been missing from this debate for too long—an analysis of what the world is doing about American power, rather than what the US should be doing with its power."



Journal of Interdisciplinary History, autumn, 1997, Jonathan M. DiCicco, review of Revolution and War, p. 251.

New Republic, March 28, 1988, Ronald Steel, review of The Origins of Alliances, p. 39.

New York Times Book Review, September 4, 2005, Anatol Lieven, "Not Bad Nation," review of Taming American Power: The Global Response to U.S. Primacy, p. 17.


National Strategy Forum Web site,http://www.nationalstrategy.com/(May 1, 2005), Endy Zemenides, review of Taming American Power.

Teaching Politics,http://teachpol.tcnj.edu/ (May, 1998), Steven Jones, review of Revolution and War.

University of California Berkeley Institute of International Studies Web site,http://globetrotter.berkeley.edu/(November 15, 2005), Harry Kriesler, "Balancing American Power in the Post-9/11 World: Conversation with Stephen M. Walt."