This photo was taken outside Saddam Hussien's Secret Policy Head-Quarters (The Mukhabarat) in Bagdad, Iraq.

The history of Iraqi Intelligence and US-Iraq diplomacy provide important lessons for my research: (1) The Mukhabarat show exactly what leaders will do to understand their enemies. (2) The Iraq wars remind us of the consequences of ineffective communication: Had Saddam been able to communicate his interests effectively, the world may be a different place. 

Hi - My name is Michael. Thanks for visiting my website. 

My research has two strands. In the first, I developed a new technique to integrate the historical and cultural determinants of a state’s foreign policy into formal models of great power politics. In empirical work, I show that conflict in these different settings is explained by how states exploit historical information to understand their rival’s motives using survey experiments with real-world intelligence analysts and archival research. Using quantitative tests, I show my motives-based theories explain variance in great power competition that theories of power and bargaining fail to capture.

 

In the second, I explore how modern technology and secrecy create opportunities and challenges for the intelligence community. On the opportunities side, I explore the process of innovation in national security, and also how modern inferential techniques that rely on average effects can enhance the practice of intelligence analysis (which typically rely on local effects). On the challenges side, I explore challenges of abuse and oversight. This work is fun! It covers the CIA's attempt to master mind control, interviews with whistleblowers, and a deep dive on the president's daily brief. 

My research has interested policy-makers in Washington DC because it provides novel insights about Sino-American relations and the use of digital technology in intelligence analysis.

Before starting my Ph.D., I worked as a foreign policy consultant in Iraq, Australia, Jordan, and the US. 

I like woodworking, making ice cream, and stand up comedy. 

 

If my research or my hobbies interest you, please reach out via email!