James Joyner

Professor of Security Studies
Security Studies Department Head

Contact Information

Areas of Epertise

  • Defense Policy
  • Civil-Military Relations
  • Professional Military Education
  • Interservice Rivalry
  • Conflict Intervention


  • Ph.D. Political Science, 1995, The University of Alabama
  • M.A., Political Science, 1988, Jacksonville State University
  • B.A., Political Science, 1987, Jacksonville State University


James Joyner has published more than 200 articles for outlets including The New York Times, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, The New Republic, War on the Rocks, The National Interest, Defense One, Christian Science Monitor, The Hill, CNN, NPR, Defense News, World Politics Review, Politico, Reason, Legal Affairs, and The New York Daily News. A more-or-less complete listing can be found here.

Prior to coming to MCU in 2013, he was Managing Editor of the Atlantic Council, a Washington DC think tank; a contracted management analyst at the Defense Information Systems Agency; Managing Editor of Strategic Insights, the professional journal of the Center for Contemporary Conflict at the Naval Postgraduate School; and a political science professor at Troy State University, Bainbridge College, and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

He served as a Field Artillery officer in the U.S. Army from 1988 to 1992 and is a combat veteran of Operation Desert Storm. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, and numerous service medals and ribbons. He is a graduate of the Airborne and Air Assault schools.

Selected Publications

  • “Trump’s Generals: A Natural Experiment in Civil-Military Relations,” Strategic Studies Quarterly, Summer 2021, pp. 120-148.
  • “Fear of a Black General?” Defense One, September 1, 2020.
  • “Congress Should Vote ‘No’ on Austin. It Likely Won’t.” Defense One, December 8, 2020.
  • “Biden Has Many Good Choices at SecDef,” Defense One, November 29, 2020.
  • “Soldier-Scholar (Pick One): Anti-Intellectualism in the American Military,” War on the Rocks, August 25, 2020.
  • “Who Decides Who Is a ‘Domestic Enemy’?” Defense One, August 13, 2020.
  • “Whose Deaths Deserve to be Honored?“ War on the Rocks, June 16, 2020 (with Pauline Shanks Kaurin).
  • “This is Not a Civil-Military Crisis,” Defense One, June 5, 2020.
  • “May Madness: Competitive Wargaming in a Pandemic,” War on the Rocks, June 1, 2020 (with Thomas Gordon and Jorge Benitez).
  • “Why Is H.R. McMaster Pleading For More War?” The National Interest, May 12, 2019.
  • “The Pentagon Is Flubbing Its Pitch to Silicon Valley,” Defense One, May 1, 2019 (with Matthew Bernius).
  • “Does the Military Really Need More Strategists?” War on the Rocks, November 8, 2018.
  • “It’s Not the Military’s Job to Oppose Trump,” The National Interest, November 3, 2018.
  • “Social Media Attacks on Trump Could Put America’s Security at Risk,” The National Interest, August 24, 2018.
  • “Why ‘Different Spanks for Different Ranks’ Are Often Justified,” Defense One, March 6, 2018 (with Butch Bracknell).
  • “‘Bloody Nose’ Strike Illegal but Unstoppable,” RealClearDefense, February 9, 2018.
  • “The New National Defense Strategy: Everything is a Priority” The National Interest, February 2, 2018.
  • “Who Suffers the Most from Government Shutdowns?” The National Interest, January 23, 2018.
  • “How Trump’s National Security Strategy Breaks with the Past,” The National Interest, December 19, 2017.
  • “Donald Trump and the Decline of the Ideas Industry,” RealClearWorld, June 7, 2017
  • “Mattis is Mostly Right on NATO,” RealClearDefense, March 2, 2017.
  • “Greater Deference to Generals Has Undermined Civilian Control of the Military,” New York TImes, December 6, 2016.
  • “Normalizing Hysteria,” The National Interest, November 15, 2016.
  • “Clinton-Cartwright Comparisons Don’t Hold Up,” War on The Rocks, October 27, 2016.
  • “Generals and Political Interventions in American History,” War on The Rocks, August 4, 2016.
  • “EU Leaders Must Keep Calm and Carry On,” RealClearWorld, July 7, 2016.
  • “Getting Rid of Generals Won’t Save Much Money, But It’s Still a Good Idea,” The National Interest, July 4, 2016.
  • “Professional Military Education and the Rigor Problem” War on The Rocks, March 15, 2016.
  • “The Forgotten Veterans of Desert Storm,” RealClearDefense, March 3, 2016.
  • “This is Why Civilianizing Military Justice Can Work,” War on The Rocks, October 16, 2015 (with James Weirick).
  • “Sexual Assault in the Military and the Unlawful Command Influence Catch-22,” War on The Rocks, October 7, 2015 (with James Weirick).
  • “In Defense of Crazy Talk: Why Bradford’s West Point Article is Worth Talking About,” War on The Rocks, September 10, 2015.
  • “The Inter-Service Wars are Looking Like Calvinball,” War on The Rocks, August 26, 2015.
  • “America’s Military Needs a New Retirement Plan,” The National Interest, June 16, 2015.
  • “Yes, ‘Veterans Should Pay Taxes Like Everyone Else’ – and We Do,” Christian Science Monitor, March 17, 2015.
  • “Obama’s ISIS AUMF: A Convenient (But Necessary) Excuse,” The National Interest, February 13, 2015.
  • “National Security Strategy to National Defense Strategy,” RealClearDefense, February 11, 2015.
  • “Is Obama Real(ist) Confused?” War on The Rocks, February 11, 2015.
  • “The Domestic Side of National Security,” The Hill, February 10, 2015.
  • “Obama’s National-Security Wish List,” The National Interest, February 10, 2015.
  • “Why Congress is AWOL on National Security Policy,” Christian Science Monitor, February 6, 2015.
  • “Obama’s Paris Blunder: Part of a Much Bigger Problem,” The National Interest, January 15, 2015.
  • “Torture Doesn’t Work: The CIA Torture Report’s Long Shadow,” The National Interest, December 11, 2014.
  • “Hagel’s Fate Was Sealed Long Ago,” The National Interest, November 26, 2014.
  • “Did Obama Have Authority for Immigration Action? Justice Memo Raises Questions,” Christian Science Monitor, November 21, 2014.
  • “Whack-a-Mole: Obama’s Real ISIS Strategy,” The National Interest, September 12, 2014.
  • “Has Obama Institutionalized Bush’s Worst?” Christian Science Monitor, September 5, 2014.
  • “Police Are Not Soldiers; Our Communities Are Not War Zones,” Christian Science Monitor, August 18, 2014.
  • “No, We’re Not Supporting Regime Change in Iraq,” The Hill, August 13, 2014.
  • “Senator Walsh’s Unrepresentative Black Mark on Professional Military Education,” RealClearDefense, July 26, 2014.
  • “Don’t Believe Everything You Read in the Papers,” War on the Rocks, July 25, 2014.
  • “Europe’s Free Ride on the American-Defense Gravy Train,” The National Interest, July 13, 2014.
  • “Ahmed Abu Khattala and the Miranda-Rights Question,” The National Interest, July 7, 2014 (with Butch Bracknell).
  • “Explaining the Sinclair Demotion,” The Hill, June 27, 2014 (with Butch Bracknell).
  • “Neoconservatives, the Iraq Debate and Ad Hominem Attacks,” The National Interest, June 27, 2014.
  • “Why All VA Executives Are Above Average,” The Hill, June 24, 2014.
  • “Leaders Must Watch Their Words on Military Sexual Assault,” The Hill, June 13, 2014 (with Butch Bracknell).
  • “Hagel: Climbing Out From Under The Bus,” War on the Rocks, June 12, 2014.
  • “If Bowe Bergdahl Deserted, Prosecute Him,” The National Interest, June 4, 2014.
  • “Barack Obama Gets Realistic at West Point,” The National Interest, May 30, 2014.
  • “Crimea is Not Armageddon,” The Hill, March 6, 2014.
  • “Hagel’s Defense Cuts: The Least Bad Choice,” The National Interest, February 26, 2014.
  • “The Pentagon Is Picking an Unnecessary Fight With Congress,” Defense One, February 24, 2014.
  • “The U.S. Military’s Ethics Crisis,” The National Interest, February 13, 2014.
  • “Medal Fatigue,” War on the Rocks, February 3, 2014.
  • “Paying Any Price: Starting the Next Chapter of Military Compensation,” War on the Rocks, November 18, 2013.
  • “The Military and the Shutdown: Assessing the Damage,” The National Interest, October 22, 2013.
  • “The Army’s Misguided Crackdown on Tattoos,” Defense One, September 26, 2013.
  • “It Isn’t the Military’s Place to Weigh In on the Syria Debate,” The Atlantic, September 17, 2013. Republished by Defense One.
  • “Obama's Goldilocks Syria Plan,” The National Interest, September 11, 2013.
  • “Smart Wars Don’t Need Selling,” The National Interest, September 10, 2013.
  • No More Baby Steps: DoD Needs a Real Strategic Review, Defense News, September 8, 2013. (with Barry Pavel).
  • “Why Obama’s Plan to Strike Syria Makes No Strategic Sense,” The Atlantic, August 30, 2013.
  • “Clapper’s Bodyguard of Lies,” The National Interest, August 20, 2013.
  • “Dempsey to Senators: Can You Handle the Truth on Syria?” RealClearDefense, July 24, 2013.


  • Marine Corps University Press, Editorial Board Member, 2015-present
  • MCU Faculty Council, 2016-2019
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