Carnegie Mellon University

Patrick M. Cronin

May 18, 2023

Get To Know Our Scholar in Residence

By Lindsay Marcellus

Lindsay Marcellus
  • Communications Specialist

The Honorable Dr. Patrick M. Cronin is a scholar in residence at the Carnegie Mellon Institute for Strategy & Technology and the Asia-Pacific Security Chair at Hudson Institute. Dr. Cronin’s research analyzes Asian strategies and salient strategic issues related to U.S. national security goals in the Indo-Pacific region and globally. He has published dozens of high-profile monographs and reports, on U.S. regional policy, the challenges posed by China, security on the Korean peninsula, and alliance management. This fall, Dr. Cronin will teach a new elective course, Asian Strategies (mini 2), that is open to undergraduate and graduate students. The following is an interview with Dr. Cronin, which has been lightly edited for length. 

What do you think are some of the greatest U.S. foreign policy and/or international security challenges that Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) students should be paying attention to? 

Geostrategic competition, institutions and rules for international order, and climate resilience and smart decarbonization are three challenges that command my attention.  If students can develop skills to avert World War three, ensure that technology is a force for good, and prevent ecological devastation, they will make a lasting contribution to humanity.  But there are many other challenges facing U.S. policy and international security. Education is a foundation for understanding acute challenges and devising practical solutions. There are also many ways for civic-minded people to equip themselves for responsible action.

I hear you do a weekly podcast. Could you tell us a little more about it? 

I am a regular panelist on the Defense & Aerospace Report “Washington Roundtable” podcast, which airs every Friday on Soundcloud and can be streamed on Spotify, Apple, and Google. My weekly charge is to put Indo-Pacific developments into context for an influential segment of the defense community.  While I regularly write and give interviews for both print and broadcast media worldwide, I freely give my time to this platform because I can help put discrete events into strategic context during a time of perceived growing danger.  It requires keeping up with events because I must be prepared to explain the policies and actions of the United States, China, North Korea, and numerous allies and partners. Sometimes the host, Vago Muradian, will ask me broad questions out of the blue. He takes after his late father, a famous Armenian-American composer who wrote concerti for every instrument in the orchestra.

Would you please tell us a little bit more about the mini you are teaching this fall?

The Indo-Pacific region accounts for most of the world’s wealth, innovation, and population, so U.S. policymakers have prioritized it for national security.  But the region is diverse and countries have their own histories, dynamics, and ambitions.  This short course ambitiously seeks to examine China, India, Japan, South Korea, and North Korea.  Understanding these five countries' broad strategic approaches and political, economic, technological, and military objectives can give students a foundation to continue learning about critical countries driving security broadly defined. Although this course is rooted in my decades of experience, I aim to impart a fresh appreciation of the multifaceted strategies of several key Indo-Pacific states likely to shape our world. 

Where can our readers learn more about your scholarship? 

Many of my writings are available to download from the website of Hudson Institute, where I am the Asia-Pacific Security Chair, or from the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), where I served as Senior Director for Asia-Pacific Security Affairs.

On the two Koreas and Japan, for instance, I would recommend my 2021 monograph Fear and Insecurity: Addressing North Korean Threat Perceptions, my 2020 edited volume Pathways to Peace: Achieving the Stable Transformation of the Korean Peninsula, my 2019 report The Cornerstone and the Linchpin: Securing America’s Alliances in Northeast Asia, and my 2019 co-authored report Negotiating with North Korea: How Will This End?Several relatively recent studies on China include Total Competition: China’s Challenge in the South China Sea; Networking Asian Security: An Integrated Approach to Order in the Pacific; Beyond the San Hai: Implications of China’s Emerging Blue-water Navy; and Counterbalance: Red Teaming the Rebalance in the Asia-Pacific

Editor’s Note: Dr. Cronin has written numerous edited books, book chapters, and journal articles.  A couple of the more durable works include his co-authored chapter with Robert J. Art, “The U.S. and Coercive Diplomacy” in Robert J. Art and Kelly M. Greenhill, eds., The Use of Force: Military Power and International Politics, Eighth Edition (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015), and the book he co-edited with Robert Art, The United States and Coercive Diplomacy (U.S. Institute of Peace, 2003).  Another book that has been widely used that he helped to write and co-edit with Michael J. Green is The U.S.-Japan Alliance: Past, Present and Future (Council on Foreign Relations, 1999).

Readers looking for shorter pieces may be interested in his A Realistic Foreign Policy Should North Korea Diplomacy Fail on the Council on Foreign Relations Blog Asia Unbound; Beijing’s Welcome Gift to Biden: More Threats and Tensions, a co-authored essay in Foreign Policy.com; How to Asymmetrically Out-Compete Xi Jinping’s One Belt One Road Initiative in War on the Rocks; and In Search of Wise Statecraft on China in The Hill.  For an op-ed which has stood the test of time, we suggest reading his 2012 essay entitled Muddy Waters, in The New York Times, about growing competition in the South China Sea.  

Note: This article was first published on the website of the Institute for Politics and Strategy (IPS).  The Institute for Politics and Strategy has now evolved into the Carnegie Mellon Institute for Strategy & Technology (CMIST).