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National Security, Middle East (Fellow) – The Chicago Council on Global Affairs


The Fellow, National Security, Middle East, will develop a research agenda and communication strategy on critical issues related to U.S. national security and the Middle East. The Fellow’s research agenda could include the following topics:

  • Crafting New Strategies in the Middle East?: In November 2011, the Obama Administration began introducing a “pivot to Asia,” a strategic concept aimed at shifting the center of U.S. political gravity from the Middle East to Asia. This pivot has economic, political, and military consequences that are prompted by the drawdown of troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan. However, at the time that this “rebalancing” is supposed to begin, the international community is again consumed by crisis in the Middle East–sectarian conflict in Syria and an increasing likelihood for serious conflict between Israel and Iran. Can a U.S. administration extract itself militarily and politically from the Middle East to significantly re-prioritize Asia? What new risks is Washington prepared to assume in the Middle East to make this happen? As Washington develops stronger more credible ties in Asia, how, if at all, will it affect its role and position in the Middle East? Will increased investment in Asia as a result of changing priorities in the Middle East be domestically possible, especially in an era of defense budget austerity?
  • Proliferation in the Middle East: The recent standoff between Israel and Iran has brought to a head concern about proliferation in the Middle East. Arab states have made it clear that they will move toward developing their own counter proliferation responses if the international community does not respond effectively to the Iranian challenge. Turkey’s willingness to accept U.S. radars as part of an elaborate missile defense system shows that concern is not limited to only Israel and Arab states. How is the region responding to the Iranian threat? What leverage does the U.S. have, and how should it use it? What diplomatic and military responses would best guarantee a safer and more secure Middle East?
  • The Arab Awakening: The revolutionary change that has upended ‘politics as usual’ in the Middle East caught Washington by surprise. Recent events provide enormous opportunities for the people of the region, and for Washington to rethink its traditional support for long-standing allies. They also introduce enormous risk. Countries with weak political institutions are confronting a new populism that could devolve into mob rule or extremist politics. Washington faces tough choices about if and how to engage new political arrangements, and what kind of security to provide. How should the U.S. best engage its traditional allies and what is needed to develop new ones? What security posture would be appropriate at this time of political flux? Can the international community contribute to a more stable and peaceful Middle East, and if so, how can Washington assist?

The Fellow will be at the early to mid-stage of his or her career. The Fellow will participate actively in the national and international discourse on these or other related issues through writing and speaking, developing and leading study projects, offering in-depth analysis to The Chicago Council’s corporate and leadership members, and contributing to The Chicago Council’s digital presence. The Fellow will work closely with the Council’s other Fellows and with program staff on related activities.

The Fellow’s priorities will include:

  • Developing and conceptualizing a policy-relevant research agenda in the field of national security and Middle East policy studies;
  • Conducting original research, contributing to Chicago Council reports, and publishing articles in policy journals and op-eds in major newspapers and magazines;
  • Raising targeted project funds to support proposed research;
  • Contributing commentary to the broadcast, print, and social media in response to news developments;
  • Interacting with members of The Chicago Council, policy community, business community, academia, and other constituents—locally, nationally, and internationally;
  • Helping to build a Chicago Council program in national security by assisting Council staff in developing programs on related topics, meeting with visiting foreign officials and
  • Experts, and communicating research directly to the Council’s leadership; and
  • Establishing a significant online presence for the Council’s national security work by establishing a presence in social media, starting and maintaining a blog, and contributing to the Council’s Web site.

Key Competencies
The Fellow will be expected to hold an advanced degree in security or military issues, economics, political science, public policy, or a related field. Master’s degree is required; Ph.D. preferred. In addition, s/he would ideally demonstrate the following:

  • Policy or military experience
  • An emerging expertise in at least one major topic in the field of national security and Middle East issues
  • A track record of publishing and engaging with policy makers and the media; and
  • Superior spoken and written communication skills, including the ability to communicate complex concepts and topics clearly, thoroughly, and succinctly

Nominations, inquiries, and expressions of interest (including cover letter and résumé) should be forwarded in confidence to:

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