Kimberly Marten

Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Political Science


Kimberly Marten is the Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Political Science at Barnard College, and a faculty member of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) and the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University.  She is Deputy Director for Development at Columbia's Harriman Institute for Russian, Eurasian, and East European Studies (serving as Acting Director in 2012/13), and a member of Columbia's Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies. She is a member of the PONARS-Eurasia network, and a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Marten's current research focuses on Russian foreign and security policy. She has two major projects underway: a counterfactual analysis of what would have happened if NATO hadn't expanded to include Poland and the Baltic states, and an exploration of how informal network politics encourage anti-Western nationalism. She writes frequently about current events, with recent articles in, the Washington Post's Monkey Cage Blog (for example, here, here, here, here, and here), the Huffington Post, USA Today, the European Leadership Network, and the New America Foundation's Weekly Wonk.

She is a frequent media commentator, appearing on the The Daily Show (extra web content here) with Jon Stewart, the Charlie Rose Show with guest host Richard Haass, the Rachel Maddow show and The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC, CNN and CNN International, PBS NewsHour Weekend with Hari Sreenivasan (here and here), Al Jazeera America, NPR's "Fresh Air" with Terry Gross and "Here and Now" with Robin Young, WNYC's The Takeaway with John Hockenberry and Todd Zwillich, Minnesota Public Radio's "Daily Circuit" with Kerri Miller, KPFK's (Los Angeles) "Background Briefing" with Ian Masters, the BBC World Service, Bloomberg TV and Radio, China Business Network (Shanghai), Globo TV Brazil, and Monocle 24 UK among others. She has been interviewed by Newsweek, Nezavisimaya Gazeta (Russia), and

She has analyzed the politics of warlords across the globe, asking how their patronage networks impact sovereignty and state failure.  Her latest book, Warlords: Strong-Arm Brokers in Weak States (Cornell University Press, 2012), traces the development of warlordism and its consequences in the tribal areas of Pakistan, Sunni Arab areas of Iraq, and post-Soviet Georgia and the Republic of Chechnya in Russia.  She discussed the book on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show and Wisconsin Public Radio.  The book was reviewed in an H-Diplo/International Security Studies Forum roundtable. In International Security, she compares warlordism in Afghanistan and Somalia to medieval Europe and Republican-era China.

She has also done research on militias and security sector reform in weak states, including her work on the Palestinian Authority Security Forces, published in International Peacekeeping and in the International Herald Tribune/New York Times.  Her chapter on the Afghan Local Police appears in an edited volume on The Transnational Governance of Violence and Crime, following an earlier opinion piece in the IHT/NYT.  Other pieces applying these themes to Libya, Syria, and other cases have appeared in Jane's Intelligence Review, The Monkey Cage blog, and  Prism, the journal of the National Defense University Center on Complex Operations.

In addition to Warlords, her books include Engaging the Enemy: Organization Theory and Soviet Military Innovation (Princeton, 1993), which received the Marshall Shulman Prize; Weapons, Culture, and Self-Interest: Soviet Defense Managers in the New Russia (Columbia, 1997); and Enforcing the Peace: Learning from the Imperial Past (Columbia, 2004).

Marten earned her A.B. in 1985 at Harvard magna cum laude and Ph.D. in 1991 at Stanford. She was a post-doctoral fellow at Stanford's Center for International Security and Cooperation; a visiting scholar at Harvard's Olin Institute for Strategic Studies; a visiting scholar at Tokyo's Institute for International Policy Studies (via a Hitachi/Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellowship); and a visiting fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.  Her research has been supported by the Smith Richardson Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Social Science Research Council/MacArthur Foundation, and the Government of Canada.

International relations

International security

Politics and security in Eurasia

Non-state armed actors and state-building

The causes of terrorism and the effects of counter-terrorism policies

POLS V 1601  International Politics
Syllabus Fall 2014
Counts as an introductory-level course in International Relations
POLS W 4875 Russia and the West
Syllabus Spring 2015
POLS BC 3055  Colloquium on Political Violence and Terrorism
Syllabus Spring 2013
POLS BC 3118 Colloquium on International Security
Syllabus Spring 2015
POLS BC 3812  Colloquium on State Failure, Warlords and Pirates
Syllabus: Spring 2012



“Debunking the Stationary Bandit Myth: Violence and Governance in Statebuilding History,” in The Jackals of Westphalia? Non-State Challenges in a Re-ordered World, ed. Stefano Ruzza, Anja P. Jakobi and Charles C. Geisler (New York: Routledge, in press).

“Informal Political Networks and Putin’s Foreign Policy: The Examples of Iran and Syria,” Problems of Post-Communism (in press, scheduled for publication March 2015).

"Reformed or Deformed?  Patronage Politics, International Influence, and the Palestinian Security Forces," International Peacekeeping 21, no. 2 (June 2014): 181-97.

"A New Explanation for Russian Foreign Policy: The Power of Informal Patronage Networks," PONARS Eurasia Policy Memo 274, September 2013.

“Warlords and Governance,” in The Transnational Governance of Violence and Crime: Non-State Actors in Security, ed. Anja P. Jakobi and Klaus Dieter Wolf (Houndmills, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), pp. 23-29.  Governance and Limited Statehood Series.

"The Bane of Palestinian Infighting," International Herald Tribune, June 27, 2013.

Warlords: Strong-Arm Brokers in Weak States.  Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2012.

"Uncertain Loyalty: The Challenges of Cooperating with Militias," Jane's Intelligence Review, December 2012: 41-5.

"Patronage vs. Professionalism in New Security Institutions," Prism (National Defense University Center for Complex Operations) 2, no. 4 (Sept. 2011): 83-98.

“Warlords,” in The Changing Character of War, ed. Hew Strachan and Sibylle Scheipers (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011).

“Failing States and Conflict,” in The International Studies Encyclopedia (a peer-reviewed compendium of scholarly concepts in international relations, a project of the International Studies Association), ed. Robert A. Denemark (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010).

“From Kabul to Kandahar: The Canadian Forces and Change,” American Review of Canadian Studies 40, no. 2 (June 2010): 214-36.
“The Danger of Tribal Militias in Afghanistan: Learning from the British Empire,” Journal of International Affairs (Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs) 63, no. 1 (Fall/Winter 2009): 157-74.
“Correspondence: Misunderstanding Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas?” substantive response letter, International Security 33, no. 3 (Winter 2008/9): 180-85.
"Statebuilding and Force: The Proper Role of Foreign Militaries," Journal of Intervention and State-Building 1, no. 2 (June 2007): 231-47.  Reprinted in Statebuilding and Intervention: Policies, Practices and Paradigms, ed. David Chandler (New York: Routledge, 2009).

“Russian Efforts to Control Kazakhstan’s Oil: The Kumkol Case,” Post-Soviet Affairs 23, no. 1 (Jan.-Mar. 2007): 18-37.

“Is Stability the Answer?” in Leashing the Dogs of War: Conflict Management in a Divided World, ed. Pamela Aall, Chester A. Crocker and Fen Osler Hampson (Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace Press, 2007).

Warlordism in Comparative Perspective,” International Security 31, no. 3 (Winter 2006/7): 41-73.

Enforcing the Peace: Learning from the Imperial Past.  New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.

Weapons, Culture, and Self-Interest: Soviet Defense Managers in the New Russia.  New York: Columbia University Press, 1997.

Engaging the Enemy: Organization Theory and Soviet Military Innovation, 1955-1991.  Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993.







Barnard: 212-854-5115

Harriman: 212-854-8452


Spring 2015:

Tuesday 4-5, Wednesday 4-5

(Barnard office, 402 Lehman)





A.B., Harvard University

Ph.D., Stanford University

Harriman Institute


Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies




Council on Foreign Relations


International Studies Association


























In the News

Provides expert commentary on Putin's political maneuvering and consequences for Russia's economy

Political science professor appears in various broadcast and print outlets

Political science professor appears in various broadcast and print outlets

Expert on Eurasian affairs discusses escalating political crisis

Political science professor discusses current conflict between Russia and Ukraine