Micah Zenko

Senior Fellow


Conflict prevention; U.S. national security policy; military planning and operations; nuclear weapons policy


Roundtable Series on New Approaches to National Security


Micah Zenko is a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). Previously, he worked for five years at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and in Washington, DC, at the Brookings Institution, Congressional Research Service, and State Department’s Office of Policy Planning.

Zenko has published on a range of national security issues, including articles in Foreign Affairs, the Journal of Strategic StudiesDefense and Security Analysis, and Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, and op-eds in the Washington PostLos Angeles TimesChicago Tribune, and the New York Times. He writes the blog Politics, Power, and Preventive Action, which covers U.S. national security policy, international security, and conflict prevention, and also has a column on He tweets at @MicahZenko.

He is the author or coauthor of five Council Special Reports: Limiting Armed Drone Proliferation, Reforming U.S. Drone Strike PoliciesPartners in Preventive Action: The United States and International InstitutionsToward Deeper Reductions in U.S. and Russian Nuclear Weapons; and Enhancing U.S. Preventive Action. He is the author of Red Team: How to Succeed By Thinking Like the Enemy (Basic Books, 2015) and Between Threats and War: U.S. Discrete Military Operations in the Post-Cold War World (Stanford University Press, 2010).

Red Team: How to Succeed By Thinking Like the Enemy

A failure to comprehensively anticipate and understand emerging threats can result in unnecessary risk for decision-makers. There are evolving threats of cyber war, pandemic disease, and environmental catastrophe, adversaries are progressing toward becoming nuclear powers, and the United States no longer holds the unequivocal international standing it once did. As it stands, methods of planning and operations are insufficient to cope with a changing landscape. Red teaming is the best tool to address the gap between threats and U.S. strategic planning and operations, but it is currently underappreciated and, in many cases, ignored. My book, Red Team: How to Succeed By Thinking Like the Enemy, uses case studies and in-depth analysis to identify the best practices of red teaming, and has the potential to transform institutional structures and how leaders think. A failure to understand potential adversaries in a world of emerging threats and outdated operational plans will be detrimental to the infrastructure, economy, and leading position of the United States.

U.S. and UN Peace and Security Issues

Given the conceivable sources of instability and conflict around the world in which the United States could take preventive action, I research, write, and hold meetings on ways to prevent, defuse, and reduce deadly conflict and to expand the body of knowledge on conflict prevention. These efforts include Preventive Action Workshops and Flashpoint Roundtables, and daily updates to the Global Conflict Tracker. I also post regularly on my blog, Politics, Power, and Preventive Action, write a column for, and publish CFR publications such as Council Special Reports, Contingency Planning Memoranda, and the annual Preventive Priorities Survey.

This project is made possible through support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

National Security and Military Policy Analysis

Many factors—emerging technologies, the growing role of the private sector, among others—are reshaping the national and international security landscape. The Roundtable Series on New Approaches to National Security brings policy experts, academics, and practitioners together to discuss these timely issues and gain insight from other sectors and disciplines. U.S. policymakers continue to debate the most effective counterterrorism strategies—ranging from controversial U.S. drone strikes in the Middle East and North Africa to building partnership capacity for foreign militaries. To contribute to the ongoing debate on topics of national security, military policy, international security, and conflict prevention, I offer insights and analyses through blog entries, regular columns on, roundtables and workshops, and numerous CFR publications.

This project is made possible through support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

Featured Publications


Red Team

Author: Micah Zenko

In Red Team, CFR Senior Fellow Micah Zenko provides an in-depth investigation into the work of red teams, revealing the best practices, most common pitfalls, and most effective applications of these modern-day devil's advocates.

See more in Global; Defense and Security

Council Special Report No. 69

Limiting Armed Drone Proliferation

Authors: Micah Zenko and Sarah E. Kreps

In this Council Special Report, Douglas Dillon Fellow Micah Zenko and Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow Sarah Kreps argue that it is essential to begin working now to expand and establish rules and norms governing armed drones. By doing so, they predict, the United States will create standards of behavior that other countries will be more likely to follow.

See more in Global; Drones; Nonproliferation, Arms Control, and Disarmament

Contingency Planning Memorandum

Dangerous Space Incidents

Author: Micah Zenko

Dangerous incidents in outer space pose an increasing threat to U.S. assets and risk escalating into militarized crises. Douglas Dillon Fellow Micah Zenko details how the Obama administration could reduce the likelihood of such crises, or mitigate their consequences should they occur.

See more in Global; Space

All Publications


Obama's Bay of Pigs

Author: Micah Zenko
Foreign Policy

The U.S. plan to arm Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria looks eerily similar to the infamous 1961 failed Bay of Pigs operation. Micah Zenko argues that a clarification of phase two—how the United States will support the armed rebels once they are trained and equipped—is needed before the United States proceeds.

See more in Syria; Defense Strategy; Conflict Assessment


The Great Drone Contradiction

Author: Micah Zenko
Foreign Policy

The State Department released a new policy on military drone exports, opening the door to possible sales to countries other than close U.S. allies. Micah Zenko discusses implications of the policy for drone proliferation.

See more in United States; Drones


The A Word:An Accomodationist Strategy for US-China Relations

Author: Micah Zenko
Australian National University, Strategic & Defence Studies Centre

Many predictions have been made that the United States and China will find themselves in competition or even direct conflict. Yet this is not preordained and both sides need to be careful not to talk themselves into a hostile relationship. In this bold new paper, Micah Zenko argues that by identifying clear ideas about acceptable conduct in the key domains (maritime, space, and cyber) the United States and China can avoid conflict without presuming away differences of interest or opinion.

See more in United States; China; Conflict Prevention


The Myth of the Terrorist Safe Haven

Authors: Micah Zenko and Amelia Wolf

Counterterrorism strategies of the past thirteen years have relied upon a myth of 9/11: terrorists require safe havens to conduct international terrorist attacks. Micah Zenko and Amelia M. Wolf argue that there is no evidence to support this assumption, which most recently served as the basis for launching a war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

See more in United States; Havens for Terrorism


The Best Worst Quotes of 2014

Author: Micah Zenko

The rise of purported threats such as Ebola and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, military intervention in Syria, and shifting military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2014 resulted in numerous notable quotes—whether puzzling, hypocritical, factually incorrect, or revealing—from U.S. officials and policymakers. In his annual article, Micah highlighted the top twenty foreign policy quotes of the year.

See more in United States; Presidents and Chiefs of State; Congresses, Parliaments, National Legislatures


Sorry, but North Korea Isn’t a State Sponsor of Terrorism

Author: Micah Zenko

Senior administration officials have discussed the possibility of placing North Korea on the State Sponsor of Terrorism list after the hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment. Micah Zenko argues that North Korea is not a state-sponsor of terrorism and “rather than misapplying this outdated punishment against countries that the United States has non-terrorism-related disagreements with, an entirely new designation is necessary.”

See more in United States; North Korea; State Sponsors of Terrorism


The Problem With the Torture Report

Author: Micah Zenko

Though the release of the executive summary of the Senate’s report on the CIA’s post-9/11 detention and interrogation program is a worthwhile effort, this report will cover little new ground, Micah Zenko argues. Rather, a more public account, including interviews with torture victims and interrogation technique used by the Department of Defense, is needed. Zenko provides guidelines for and questions to think about while reading the report.

See more in United States; Intelligence


Exaggeration Nation

Author: Micah Zenko

The threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is being overblown to a dangerous and untruthful degree by U.S. government officials, who are getting away with it without question. Micah Zenko argues that U.S. officials must envision America’s enemies “more accurately and honestly.”

See more in United States; Terrorist Organizations and Networks


Terrorists Among Us

Author: Micah Zenko

Despite perceptions among Americans that the country is unsafe and a terrorist attack is "likely," the real threats don't emanate from actors like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Rather, as Micah Zenko argues, self scrutiny is needed among U.S. policymakers to recognize the true threat of terrible domestic crimes, generally not labeled as "terrorism," as they are more likely to occur, and do so frequently.

See more in United States; Terrorism; Homeland Security


The Shape- Shifting Coalition

Author: Micah Zenko

The U.S.-led coalition to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) includes fifty-five states, nine of which have taken part in military operations or stated their willingness to do so. However, over time, CPA's Micah Zenko argues, these commitments will diminish as the mission shifts, resources dwindle, and national support decreases, just as was the case in the Iraq War and 2011 intervention in Libya.

See more in Syria; Iraq; Counterterrorism; Military Operations


Barack Obama and the ‘Wimp Factor’

Author: Micah Zenko
Foreign Policy

Americans and Congress repeatedly claim that President Obama is not "tough" enough. Micah Zenko discusses the idealistic concept of strength and basis upon which leaders are judged, concluding: "Foreign policies should not be judged upon the tone and tenor of their announcements, but rather upon their merits and their success."

See more in United States; Presidents and Chiefs of State


Obama's Armed Drones in Iraq Reek of Mission Creep

Author: Micah Zenko
Foreign Policy

The pentagon last week acknowledged that the United States deployed armed drones to Iraq to provide surveillance and strike capabilities as the crisis with the Islamic State of Iraq and and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) continues to deteriorate. However, Micah Zenko points out that while numerous U.S. officials have called for the deployment of drones, these demands have not been accompanied by justifications, and there is still no precise goals for the deployment.

See more in Pakistan; Iraq; Drones; Counterterrorism

Recent Activity from Politics, Power, and Preventive Action


Roundtable Series on New Approaches to National Security

Staff: Micah Zenko, Senior Fellow
August 2016—Present

This series provides a forum for policy experts, academics, and practitioners to discuss new approaches to national and international security. The broad range of topics addressed include military operations, counterterrorism, outer space, cybersecurity, and the role of the private sector. 

CFR Events

Meeting ⁄ Washington

CFR DC Fellows' Book Launch Series: Red Team-- How to Succeed By Thinking Like the Enemy by Micah Zenko

Speaker Micah Zenko

Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

Presider James M. Lindsay

Senior Vice President, Director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair, Council on Foreign Relations

November 10, 2015 5:30 p.m.-7:15 p.m.

November 10, 2015

This meeting is on the record.

Read Listen Watch

Meeting ⁄ New York

CFR Fellows' Book Launch Series for Red Team: How to Succeed By Thinking Like the Enemy with Micah Zenko

Speaker Micah Zenko

Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

Presider Richard N. Haass

President, Council on Foreign Relations

November 5, 2015 5:30 p.m.-7:15 p.m.

5:30 p.m.–6:00 p.m. Cocktail Reception
6:00 p.m.–6:45 p.m. Meeting
6:45 p.m.–7:15 p.m. Cocktail Reception and Book Signing

November 5, 2015

This meeting is on the record.

Read Watch


The Implications of Drones on U.S. Foreign Policy

Speakers Sarah E. Kreps
Associate Professor, Department of Government, Cornell University
, Micah Zenko

Douglas Dillon Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

Moderator Irina A. Faskianos

Vice President, National Program & Outreach, Council on Foreign Relations

December 4, 2014 12:00–1:00 p.m. - (ET)

This meeting is on the record.


Meeting ⁄ New York

Assessing U.S. Drone Strike Policies

Panelists Jameel JafferDeputy Legal Director, American Civil Liberties Union, Michael E. LeiterSenior Counsel to the Chief Executive Officer, Palantir Technologies; Former Director, National Counterterrorism Center, Micah ZenkoDouglas Dillon Fellow, Center for Preventive Action, Council on Foreign Relations; Author, Reforming U.S. Drone Strike Policies, Council Special Report No. 65
Presider Karen J. GreenbergDirector, Center on National Security, Fordham Law School
March 1, 2013 12:30–1:00 p.m. - Lunch
1:00–2:00 p.m. - Meeting

This meeting is on the record.

Read ListenWatch


Brennan Confirmation Hearings

Speaker Sarah Holewinski

Executive Director, Center for Civilians in Conflict

Presiders Micah Zenko

Douglas Dillon Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

, Gideon Rose

Editor, Peter G. Peterson Chair, Foreign Affairs magazine

February 5, 2013

This meeting is on the record.



U.S. Drone Strike Policies

Speakers Dennis C. Blair

Former Director of National Intelligence

, Micah Zenko

Douglas Dlillon Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

Presider Jonathan Masters

Online Editor/Writer,

January 22, 2013

This meeting is on the record.



U.S. Drone Policy

Speaker Micah Zenko

Douglas Dillon Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

Moderator Irina A. Faskianos

Vice President, National Program & Outreach, Council on Foreign Relations

December 5, 2012 12:00–1:00 p.m. - (ET)

This meeting is on the record.



Countering Criminal Violence in Central America

Speaker Michael Shifter

Inter-American Dialogue

Presider Micah Zenko

Council on Foreign Relations

April 9, 2012

This meeting is on the record.


Meeting ⁄ Washington

Next Steps in U.S. and Russian Nuclear Cooperation

Speakers Rose E. GottemoellerAssistant Secretary, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance, U.S. Department of State, Steven PiferSenior Fellow and Director, Arms Control Initiative, Brookings Institution, Micah ZenkoFellow for Conflict Prevention, Center for Preventive Action, Council on Foreign Relations
Presider Clifford A. KupchanDirector, Europe and Eurasia, Eurasia Group
January 13, 2011 8:00–8:30 a.m. - Breakfast Reception
8:30–9:30 a.m. - Meeting

This meeting is on the record.

Read ListenWatch



America Dropped 26,171 Bombs in 2016

Looking back at President Obama's legacy, the Council on Foreign Relation's Micah Zenko added up the defense department's data on airstrikes and made a startling revelation: in 2016 alone, the Obama administration dropped at least 26,171 bombs. 


Review of Red Team

Micahel Horowitz reviews Micah Zenko's Red Team: How to Succeed By Thinking Like the Enemy in International Politics Reviews


Red Team Your Life

Black Hills Information Security reviews the latest book from Micah ZenkoRed Team: How to Succeed by Thinking Like the Enemy


Red Teams Needed to Critique Military Operations

The Federation of American Scientists mention Micah Zenko's book Red Team: How to Succeed by Thinking Like the Enemy in an overview of the new publication from the Joint Chiefs of Staff on red teams. 


Hillary Clinton's and Bernie Sanders' Foreign Policy on Display

Does your candidate have a foreign policy? Micah Zenko provides a questions checklist for voters over at Foreign Policy. Here are the inquiries those planning to pull a lever in November should make regarding their preferred candidate’s stances on world affairs:


Everyone says the Libya intervention was a failure. They’re wrong

Claims of "mission creep" have become commonplace, most forcefully articulated by the Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations. Zenko may be right, but he asserts rather than explains why mission creep is always a bad thing. It may be that in some circumstances, the scope of a mission should be defined more broadly, rather than narrowly.


How Should the World Respond to Terrorism?

Even with this expansive definition, less than 7 percent of violent deaths worldwide are the result of terrorism; as Micah Zenko pointed out in Foreign Policy last year, “Citizens of several Central American and Caribbean countries are still more likely to be the victim of homicide than Iraqis or Syrians are from terrorism.”


War, Conflict and the Military - H.R. McMaster

In Red Team, Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, sets out to explain how leaders might improve institutional performance....His valuable analysis and advice will be of particular interest to executives, and anyone charged with strategic planning.


Add Libya debacle to Hillary’s list of extreme dishonesty

Writing for Foreign Policy online, Micah Zenko notes “just hours into the intervention, Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from a British submarine stationed in the Mediterranean Sea struck an administrative building in [Khadafy’s] Bab al-Azizia compound.” A senior military official insisted “[Khadafy’s] not on a targeting list.”


The Libya debacle undermines Clinton’s foreign policy credentials

Writing for Foreign Policy online, Micah Zenko, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, notes that “just hours into the intervention, Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from a British submarine stationed in the Mediterranean Sea struck an administrative building in [Gaddafi’s] Bab al-Azizia compound, less than 50 yards away from the dictator’s residence.”


How to hire a hacker: 8 tips to lift your application security game

Such external testing will improve your internal penetration testing, including patching systems, says Micah Zenko, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who writes frequently about security. “[Hiring a hacker] will tell you which patches are most consequential and which you can prioritize.”


Advocatus Diaboli: #Reviewing Red Team

Zenko provides a handy roadmap to the mistakes of others as a guide to future organizations.  In an arena where failure results in loss of life or treasure, Red Team will be a critical resource for leaders that want to give their organization the best chance at success.


American Airstrikes Become Deadlier

As Micah Zenko, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, told The Guardian, “The Somalia and Yemen strikes suggest that the White House has authorized a significant opening of the aperture to target gatherings of suspected terror groups, rather than named individuals who pose imminent threats.”


Massive US airstrike in Yemen kills 'dozens' of people, Pentagon says

Zenko speculated that the two most recent strikes in Somalia and Yemen resembled conventional-war airstrikes more than they do “targeted killings”, the White House’s preferred term for its lethal counter-terrorism measures.

“The Somalia and Yemen strikes suggest that the White House has authorized a significant opening of the aperture to target gatherings of suspected terror groups, rather than named individuals who pose imminent threats,” Zenko said.


Saudi Arabia Can’t Hide From the Truth

For these very reasons, Micah Zenko, a veteran of the State Department’s Office of Policy Planning and senior fellow at the Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations, said this week that the idea of the Saudis leading the fight against terrorism was akin to a “[drug] cartel leading a counternarcotics campaign.”

Video Interview

How Important Is It to Red Team the Enemy’s Game Plan?

For centuries, the Vatican has used a devil’s advocate to vet all applicants for sainthood. Today, our military, the intelligence community and the private sector employ a technique known as “red teaming” to test vulnerabilities, play war games and give an alternative strategic and tactical analysis of a proposed action. Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Micah Zenko, author of a fascinating book called "Red Team: How to Succeed by Thinking Like the Enemy," tells Jim Zirin of a principled way to arrive at the right answer.



The #ManPanel problem: why are female experts still so widely ignored?

Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations analyzed the gender breakdown of 10 of Washington, DC’s most prominent foreign policy think tanks in 2014 and found that women held only 21 percent of policy-related positions. And as of 2006, women made up only 23 percent of political professors, 16 percent of "senior defense officials" in the Pentagon, and 22 percent of senior leaders in the State Department.


Nobody Knows the Identity of the 150 People Killed by U.S. in Somalia, but Most Are Certain They Deserved It

Beyond that, the U.S. government’s own documents prove that in the vast majority of cases — 9 out of 10 in fact — it is killing people other than its intended targets. Last April, the New York Times published an article under the headline “Drone Strikes Reveal Uncomfortable Truth: U.S. Is Often Unsure About Who Will Die.” It quoted the scholar Micah Zenko saying, “Most individuals killed are not on a kill list, and the government does not know their names.”

Video Interview

Higher Ed and the 6 Best Practices for Red Teams

None of the examples that Micah Zenko draws on in this excellent book Red Team come from academia. Yet, while reading Red Team, I kept thinking of ways that the methodology could be applicable to our work in higher education.


US Strike Kills 150 at an al Shabaab Training Camp in Somalia

If the death toll is accurate, Micah Zenko, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), said it would be "the most lethal counterterrorism strike" by the US that he is aware of. According to his own data, the weekend's strike killed more targets than any preceding counterterrorism operation in Somalia by the US to date.


How Europe's call for a Saudi arms embargo exposes America’s hypocrisy

"Since March 25, [2015]," writes Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations, "the United States has been providing in-air refueling, combat-search-and-rescue support (including the rescue of two Saudi pilots whose helicopter crashed in the Gulf of Aden), detailing forty-five intelligence analysts to help advise on target selection, and redoubling weapons exports and contractor support" to the Saudis and the other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries in the Saudi-led coalition.


Americans Are Still Flying Blind on Drones

Mr. Obama has exponentially expanded the use of drones. He authorized 506 strikes that have killed 3,040 suspected terrorists and 391 civilians, while President George W. Bush authorized approximately 50 drone strikes that killed 296 suspected terrorists and 195 civilians in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia, according to unofficial data analyzed by Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations.


The Absurd Timing of Michael Hayden's Drone Campaign

Micah Zenko, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a noted expert on the role of drones in U.S. counterterrorism operations, published a thorough point-by-point analysis of Hayden’s specific claims the following day.


I’m Micah Zenko, author of “Red Team,” ask me anything!

Hello r/IAmA. I’m Micah Zenko, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)and author of Red Team: How to Succeed by Thinking Like the Enemy(Basic Books, 2015). I’m here today to answer any questions you have about red teaming.


Terrorists vs. TVs: Weighing the dangers of travel

"Since 9/11, a total of 238 American citizens have died from terrorist attacks, or an average of 29 per year," wrote Micah Zenko in a 2012 post on the Council on Foreign Relations blog. "To put that in some perspective, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the average American is as likely to be crushed to death by televisions or furniture as they are to be killed by a terrorist." Which isn't stopping anyone from buying a 60-inch Sony flatscreen.


How Yahoo Hacks Itself

"Our mandate is basically to break as many things as we can," says Chris Rohlf, who heads Yahoo's six-person penetration testing group and red team. Its mission is "to be the offense and find as many security vulnerabilities inside of Yahoo before attackers can find and exploit them to gain access to our systems," he says. "And the primary reason for this role existing is because 'you can't grade your own homework.'" That's a quote from the book "Red Team: How to Succeed By Thinking Like the Enemy" by Micah Zenko, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. 


Collapse of a peace presidency: Obama's speech highlights foreign policy failures

“The Obama administration is careful in its use of language to sell warfare as something less: the Libya regime change intervention was ‘a time-limited, scope-limited military action’; the open-ended bombing of Isis ‘a very significant counter-terrorism operation’; and US troops are never ‘in combat’, but rather deployed to ‘dangerous places’,” said the Council on Foreign Relations’ Zenko“This is all intended to define-down warfare so it appears like less of a military commitment, less costly, and less deadly.”


The War Over Syria’s War Dead

“These estimates matter; they matter politically, and they matter in terms of setting the historical record straight,” said Micah Zenko, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and Foreign Policy columnist, who has written about the death count. “If you claim to care about protecting civilians from harm, you have to understand how civilians are being harmed, specifically what is the form of lethality that leads to deaths.”



14 hard truths on Syria no one wants to admit

A no-fly zone will not end Syria's war and risks making things worse. This is what analysts often call a "do-something" policy: a proposal based on the principle that "something must be done; this is something; so therefore we must do it." In other words, it's a policy designed not to solve the problem but rather to reassure ourselves that we are taking some morally satisfying action. The Council on Foreign Relations' Micah Zenko goes point by point on why the most popular do-something policy will not save Syria and is in fact more likely to make things worse.


Counterterror honchos convene tech lords; NorK fallout; Missing US missile turns up in Cuba; Meet the new SOCOM chief; and a bit more.

“Kill-em-all with airstrikes” is not working against ISIS. That’s the acid conclusion from the Council on Foreign Relations’ Micah Zenko, who notes: 1) U.S. officials estimated in 2014 that the Islamic State group numbered about 30,000 fighters, 2) recently said 25,000 have been killed since then; and 3) now believe there are about 30,000.


Intervention meter assesses candidates' hawkishness

One of the key ways to measure how much of a hawk each candidate would be is to measure the number of times they have called for ground forces, air strikes, safe zones, or international action against terrorists. That’s what the 2016 Presidential Candidate Intervention Meter hopes to measure.The ranking tool was partially created by Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations by tracking the calls for force, though the actual scoring system was developed by Trevor Thrall of the Libertarian CATO Institute. 


The 2016 Presidential Candidate Intervention Meter

Over at the Council on Foreign Relations, Micah Zenko has started keeping track of all the candidates’ calls for the use of force. The Presidential Candidates Use of Force Tracker, as he calls it, is a wonderful public service, providing voters with an easy way to compare the candidates’ proposals for intervening in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere. 


Review of Red Team: How to Succeed by Thinking Like the Enemy

The publication of Red Team by Dr. Micah Zenko is an impressive accomplishment. It has allowed for a glimpse of the entire red teaming universe to be provided to the reader in one work...What Dr. Peter Perla's book The Art of Wargaming did 25 years ago to help mainstream an understanding of military wargaming, we can only hope Dr. Zenko's new work will now do for the red teaming community.


Trusting in the New Devil’s Advocate

“A gripping, deeply informed overview of red teaming…Red Team is filled with harrowing stories of red-team failures but also successes in the domains of both national security and the private sector, where companies, for example, red team against hackers. These stories reinforce the crucially important strategies and best practices proposed by Zenko to help the world avoid another catastrophe such as 9/11.” 

Video Interview

Security Weekly #443 – Interview with Micah Zenko

Micah Zenko, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of the new book “Red Team: How to Succeed By Thinking Like the Enemy.” We talk to Micah about techniques to prevent domestic terrorism, parallels between physical security and computer security and red teaming.



Parshat Vayeishev

Zenko explains that for red teaming to be effective certain basic guidelines need to be followed. The first and most important is that the boss must buy in.


New York’s Tactical Shift on Terror Attacks: Don’t Wait for Backup

“If you had a Mumbai-like situation in Manhattan, you would not want beat cops coming out of their patrol cars going after them; they would be outgunned and outmanned on the scene,” said Micah Zenko, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of “Red Team: How to Succeed by Thinking Like the Enemy,” which includes analysis of the New York Police Department’s counterterrorism preparedness.


Book Review - Red Team How to Succeed by Thinking Like the Enemy

"The truth is, I’m only partially through reading this book, but it is so good that I need to share this with you now to remove the mental “Blogging tic” and be totally free to absorb its goodness. The book is: Red Team How to Succeed By Thinking Like the Enemy, published in November and written by Micah Zenko....This is a super and thoroughly enjoyable read, it’s not dry and academic, but immensely informative, vibrant, alive and most importantly – real. Zenko’s passion, knowledge and enthusiasm for Red Teaming positively vibrates from the pages and is delightfully infectious. This book came at just the right time for me and I’d encourage you to grab a copy."


Why cybersecurity’s future may be in the hands of the devil’s advocate

Micah Zenko has a piece of advice for frazzled security executives: Start thinking like the enemy...The Parallax recently caught up with Zenko, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, to learn how they’re doing it. Here is an edited transcript of our conversation.

Video Interview

Rating the U.S. Reaction to Terror Attacks

David Rothkopf, Jeffrey Goldberg, Kori Schake and Micah Zenko evaluate the U.S. response to the attacks in Paris and in Mali, and the downing of a Russian passenger jet.



10 tips for surviving the age of terrorism

As the Council on Foreign Relations' Micah Zenko has noted, terrorist-related deaths grew by more than 4,000% from 2002 and by 148% from 2010 to 2014. But they constitute a small percentage of worldwide violence, roughly 7%. Zenko further argues: Compare the 32,727 terrorist fatalities to the estimated 377,000 people who were killed, collectively, in interpersonal violence, gang violence or economically motivated crimes. The odds are greater that you'll be killed by lightning than killed by ISIS.


Americans more fearful of a major terror attack in the U.S., poll finds

Micah Zenko, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said Americans tend to overestimate the likelihood of a terrorist strike within the United States because “we are, as humans, hard-wired to perceive unspecific and foreign-sounding and unclear information as a threatening manner.”


How to anticipate unthinkable terrorist attacks? Hire oddballs to think of them.

The events are fictional, but the failure was real enough, as Micah Zenko recounts in his grimly well-timed book, “Red Team.”...Zenko offers a compelling argument for forcing ourselves to think differently, which is ultimately the main purpose of a red team. Even if we won’t know exactly what to expect, we might be better equipped to respond when the unexpected strikes.


Succeeding By ‘Thinking Like The Enemy’

You might not be familiar with the term “red team” but it’s a concept that is used by the CIA, the military and many corporations to assess their vulnerabilities and better protect themselves against threats. Micah Zenko, a senior fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations, analyzes this concept in his new book “Red Team: How to Succeed By Thinking Like the Enemy.” He tells Here & Now‘s Indira Lakshmanan that the theme of his book is “you can’t grade your own homework.”



Formulating a policy response in anger is probably not the best way to defeat the Islamic State

When it comes to foreign policy, however, quickly formed bipartisan consensus makes me queasy. As Josh Busby notes, there is a danger in any response designed to “satisfy our collective desire for retribution but not be effective.” Or as Micah Zenko noted: "Recall Jordan and Turkey also conducted revenge attacks on ISIS, but soon after largely stopped. Revenge bombing is hard to sustain."


Six Rules for Wargaming: The Lessons of Millennium Challenge '02

For over a decade, those of us who teach wargaming and red teaming have used Millennium Challenge ‘02 (MC ‘02) as a poster child for how not to design or run a wargame. Micah Zenko offered the most comprehensive account to date of MC ’02 earlier this week here at War on the Rocks.


Book Review: "Red Team"

"Red Team: How to Succeed By Thinking Like The Enemy" by Micah Zenko is an excellent book on the history and art of competitive analysis or red teaming a concept or scenario. 


Millennium Challenge: The Real Story of a Corrupted Military Exercise and Its Legacy

Millennium Challenge 2002, a U.S. military red teaming exercise, was doomed to fail from the start. In an excerpt from his book, Red Team: How to Succeed by Thinking Like the Enemy, Micah Zenko tells a more comprehensive version of the story than has ever been told, featuring interviews with numerous leaders of the military exercise. 


US opens up international market for armed drones: Consequences unknown

In a 2014 Foreign Affairs article, Sarah Kreps and Micah Zenko suggested that while drones do not possess the transformative power of nuclear weaWelcome to the Red Cell: The CIA unit that asks the awkward questionspons, the moral hazard around their use meant they could still be highly destabilising to international order. Specifically, the authors wrote, armed drones could increase the possibility of 'military conflicts in disputed areas where the slightest provocation could lead to strife'.


Welcome to the Red Cell: The CIA unit that asks the awkward questions

These are some of the awkward questions the intelligence agency’s shadowy Red Cell was designed to answer. In a gripping report for Foreign Policy, author Micah Zenko has revealed how the experimental unit transformed the intelligence community since it was set up after 9/11 with the express aim to “p*** off” senior officials.

Radio Interview

Playing the Devil’s Advocate In International Relations

Micah Zenko is a Council on Foreign Relations fellow who has written what is arguably the first and definitely the most comprehensive examination of Red Teaming, its history and modern applications. His new book is called “Red Team: How to Succeed by Thinking like the Enemy” and is a supremely interesting investigation into a little studied aspect of national security and foreign policy making.



The dangers of Obama’s incrementalism

In a smart piece for Foreign Policy, Micah Zenko provides a timeline of this escalation. He notes that “what began Aug. 8, 2014, with 25 airstrikes in the first week and food and water airdropped to save threatened Yazidis, has morphed and expanded into 600 bombs being dropped per week and more than 100 bundles of ammunition supplied to an unnamed faction of 5,000 Syrian rebels.” And this was before the Special Operations forces were sent to Syria.


Why Your Secure Building Isn’t: Better Security Through Physical Penetration Tests

Though employees may think their company’s office building is secure, the outward appearance of security is rarely correlated with the actual protection of that building, or the people and contents within. In an excerpt from his book, Red Team: How to Succeed by Thinking Like the Enemy, Micah Zenko details how penetration tests are used to identify vulnerabilities in a building’s physical security. 


How the NYPD Stops Terrorist Attacks

The New York Police Department runs simulated exercises, called tabletop exercises, to test the responses and decision-making of senior commanders in advance of prominent events (the Thanksgiving Dayparade), in response to complex threats (missing radioactive material), or for new potential perpetrators (lone wolf attackers). Micah Zenko explores the use of NYPD tabletop exercises in his new book, Red Team: How to Succeed by Thinking Like the Enemy, including his firsthand experience attending one. 


After Obama changes tack on Syria, what would the presidential candidates do?

Any campaign would probably need snipers, radar and recon teams, artillery and special operations teams – if not full infantry battalions, Micah Zenko, a senior fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations, has noted in Foreign Policy. “The types of interventions that proponents have endorsed for Syria are often based on deep misunderstandings of how US force was used on behalf of humanitarian missions in the past,” Zenko wrote. “Proposals that consciously ignore or downplay the amount and type of force needed to protect civilians are just wishful thinking.”


Inside the CIA Red Cell

Micah Zenko gives the first, ever look inside the CIA’s Red Cell—a unit tasked with conducting alternative analyses to anticipate threats and challenge conventional thinking. This is an excerpt of his book, Red Team: How to Succeed by Thinking Like the Enemy.


WikiLeaks Releases CIA Director’s Emails

Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow Micah Zenko noted that this Iran-related document had already been published in The Annals back in 2008.


One Way to Re-engineer "All-Male" Panels

In Washington DC, for example, male cronyism in panel organizing (e.g. as previously described by Micah Zenko) is a particularly resistant sub-culture. Panel slots serve as currency for trading favors, and individual organizers' own status is tied to this currency.


G.O.P. Candidates Leading Charge in Call for Syrian No-Fly Zone

“If you want to be a politician and give the appearance of doing something, and, quote, demonstrating resolve, nothing looks more impressive and is more responsive than U.S. military power,” said Micah Zenko, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations....Mr. Zenko said that calling for a no-fly zone “allows you to appear tough, and to appear different” from Mr. Obama, but that the idea as a policy matter was “unserious on so many levels.”


Qaeda Cell Leader Killed in Airstrike in Syria, Pentagon Says

Micah Zenko, a scholar at the Council on Foreign Relations, said experts inside and outside the government were divided over the long-term efficacy of a so-called decapitation strategy, in which a terrorist group’s leaders are killed. “There’s a pretty vigorous debate within the security community about whether this works,” Mr. Zenko said. Some officials believe that the fear of strikes makes it harder for extremists to meet and communicate and that killing leaders means advancing less competent operatives. But Mr. Zenko said he was among the skeptics. The decapitation approach, he said, really becomes a “recapitation” strategy because the targeted groups learn to anticipate the deaths of leaders and prepare deputies to succeed them. Any disruption tends to be temporary, he said.


'All We Could Find Were Body Parts': America's Role in Yemen's Civilian Carnage

"Without US in-air refueling, combat search-and-rescue, a steady and expedited flow of weapons and ammunition, and contractor logistical support, the air campaign couldn't happen," said Micah Zenko, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who has been closely studying the intervention.

Video Interview

Drone Papers: Firing Bling

According to Micah Zenko, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who has closely studied the drone war, resource constraints in Africa “mean less time for the persistent stare that counterterrorism analysts and commanders want, and got used to in the Afghanistan-Pakistan theater.”


Russian Military Uses Syria as Proving Ground, and West Takes Notice

“We’re learning more than we have in the last 10 years,” said Micah Zenko, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, noting the use of the new strike fighters and the new cruise missile, known as the Kalibr. “As it was described to me, we are going to school on what the Russian military is capable of today.”


The Yemen crisis is partly our fault. We can no longer facilitate this war

Even the US military can’t explain why they’re supporting this war so closely. There is no military or national security objective (besides keeping the Saudi Arabian government happy and the coffers of US weapons makers flush). As the Council on Foreign Relations’s Micah Zenko writes in his excellent and depressing analysis of the unfolding tragedy:


Five Questions About the Bombing of a Hospital in Kunduz

As Micah Zenko points out, on the Council on Foreign Relations blog, there have been an increasing number of such incidents recently, in circumstances that attract less attention than a hospital engulfed in flames.


Question Certainty

The Zenko book is a good complement to Superforecasting, because it shows how organizations, not just individuals, can overcome their biases toward false certainty and make good predictions, in geopolitics and business, in public and private sectors. With simulations, vulnerability probes, and alternative analyses that offer fresh eyes on a complex situation or intentionally oppose a certain position, red teams can greatly improve the accuracy of forecasts in the same way that Tetlock’s experts do.


Was Syrian Train-and-Equip Effort Always a 'Mission Impossible'?

Micah Zenko, a senior fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations, has likened the enterprise to the Bay of Pigs fiasco, President John F. Kennedy’s abortive paramilitary invasion of Cuba in 1961. “If it were a top priority of the White House, and that was signaled down the chain of command, issues about screening and restrictions could be overcome quickly,” Zenko said.


Only 'Four or Five' US-trained Syrian Rebels Are Fighting in Syria, Pentagon Says

Micah Zenko, a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said that the strategy was never suited to the administration's stated goal of destroying the group. "They should never have used to word 'destroy,'" he told VICE News, adding that the airstrikes and training program could not be expected to eliminate "a diffuse militant army." "No one in the Pentagon I've spoken with thought this would work," he said.


Drone strikes by UK and Pakistan point to Obama's counter-terror legacy

“The drone strike announcements were made before any public policy debate or discussion, and officials from both [Pakistani and British] governments have refrained from answering questions directly or providing clarifying information to know if their practice is aligned with their policy justifications,” said Micah Zenko, an expert on drones at the Council on Foreign Relations.


Is Turkey More Interested in Fighting Kurds Than ISIS?

Between July 30 and August 11, 293 airstrikes were carried out by U.S.-led coalition forces, according to official tallies. Between August 12 and August 24 that number rose to 304. This table from Micah Zenko at the Council on Foreign Relations summarizes the data...


Inquiry Weighs Whether ISIS Analysis Was Distorted

“It’s both expected and helpful if there are dissenting viewpoints about conflicts in foreign countries,” said Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of a forthcoming book, “Red Team,” that includes an examination of alternative analysis within American intelligence agencies. What is problematic, he said, “is when a dissenting opinion is not given to policy makers.”


Reassessing the Threat From Terrorism–Abroad and at Home

Put another way, we are by no means safe in the long war against terrorism–but perhaps we are safer from large-scale, 9/11-type attacks....As Micah Zenko, my colleague at Foreign Policy, has written, terrorism is on the rise globally. 


Obama's Syria policy is a mess

"I blame everybody for this," says Micah Zenko, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. "I don't know anybody above [the rank of colonel] who didn't think this was a terrible idea."


US to step up defense of beleaguered Syrian allies

A 54-strong unit inserted into the rebels' Division 30 has come under withering attack from Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate the Al-Nusra Front, with several members reportedly killed or captured. Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations said the "truly significant decision" could potentially extend well beyond that small force.


Combating Counterterrorism Center Sentinel: An Interview with Dennis Gleeson

The challenge for our country is to consider, really consider, the threat—in terms of motive, means, and opportunity—they and other groups pose to US national interests. In that, I tend to agree with folks like Micah Zenko, who has highlighted the tendency to use hyperbole as a political tool.

It ain't over til it's over: America's wars drag on no matter what officials say

As the Council on Foreign Relation’s Micah Zenko remarked: “First it was al Qaeda, then the Taliban, now ISIS will be reason US military remains in Afghanistan.” There’s always going to be someone. What unnamed group will be holding our attention in 2020 when we still have troops fighting and dying there for nebulous reasons?

Has the government lost sight over direction of conduct for military operations?

Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations offered another bold suggestion: A National Commission on the War on Terrorism similar to the 9/11 Commission and made up of "10 former officials, diplomats, and experts — with no personal or financial interest in the outcome — empowered to speak with anyone and review any documents" to "do what elected and appointed leaders cannot: review, evaluate, and offer new policy recommendations."

The Iran deal began with George W. Bush

As the Council on Foreign Relations' Micah Zenko points out, the Bush administration offered to negotiate directly with Iran over its nuclear program in 2006—the first such American offer in about 25 years. That doesn't mean Bush would have necessarily taken the exact same deal as Obama, but it's a reminder that some of the political rhetoric around the deal is exactly that—political.

Who’s an existential threat to the U.S.? In Washington, it depends who’s talking.

The comments caught the attention of foreign policy analysts and military officers alike. Micah Zenko, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, noted that Dunford’s assessment differed with the threat assessment released in February by James R. Clapper, the director of national intelligence. Clapper ranked cyber attacks as a top threat, although he lumped in China, Russia, North Korea and Iran as potential adversaries in that regard.

The U.S. air war against the Islamic State, in numbers

Micah Zenko, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, crunches the numbers of the U.S. air campaign, and sets it against other recent missions. Despite the U.S. air war against the Islamic State now entering a second year, it has conducted far fewer sorties and dropped fewer bombs than during the shock-and-awe campaign in Iraq in 2003 or NATO's operations against Serbian forces in 1999.

Why Reagan would approve of Obama's foreign policy

When suicide bombers attacked the U.S. Embassy in Beirut and killed 63 people, or when Hezbollah bombed the Marine barracks in Beirut and killed 241 Americans, Reagan decided to do what Micah Zenko in Foreign Policy refers to as "cut and run."

CIA Director John Brennan Admits U.S. Foreign Policy Could Spur Terrorism

John Brennan, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, went on “Face the Nation” last Sunday and did something weird: he acknowledged that U.S. foreign policy might sometimes cause terrorism. Of course, he didn’t word it exactly like that, but close enough...(I learned about Brennan’s “Face the Nation” statement from Micah Zenko.)

America's never been safer. So why are Republicans convinced it's in mortal peril?

It's also politically savvy. "For Republicans, who have long benefited from attacking Democrats for their alleged weakness in the face of foreign threats, there is little incentive to tone down the rhetoric," Micah Zenko and Michael Cohen write in Foreign Affairs. "The notion of a dangerous world plays to perhaps their greatest political advantage."

Congress must not abdicate its duty to authorize or declare war

Meanwhile, there are many questions the media should be asking, but are barely ever uttered on national television. For example, is US foreign policy making us less safe, rather than increasing our security, as Micah Zenko pondered this week

US drone war under scrutiny after botched strike

Micah Zenko, a vocal critic of the drone campaign, said the White House had violated its own guidelines in the strike that killed the hostages, accusing it of "anthropomorphizing" a compound as an Al-Qaeda leader. Zenko, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the incident "raises questions about the alleged principle of 'near certainty' that applies to drone strikes."

Are we winning the drone war?

Most of the time, “the United States simply does not know who it is killing,” says Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Drones and the Myth of Precision

Micah Zenko, an expert in drone warfare at the Council on Foreign Relations, told The New York Times that of the eight U.S. citizens killed by American drone attacks, seven were killed unintentionally—including Warren Weinstein, one of the two hostages who died in the January strikes.

Dianne Feinstein helped keep drones with CIA

Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations who wrote the 2014 analysis, said via email Thursday that the latest development only underscores the need to consolidate the operations under the umbrella of the U.S. military. 

White House admits: we didn't know who drone strike was aiming to kill

Yet, noted Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations, “the administration never said the signature strikes ended in May 2013, on or off the record … in fact, they never ended.”...Zenko said it was “strange and bizarre” that lethal US operations have received less public scrutiny than CIA torture, the subject of a 6,000-page Senate reportpartially released last year.

The shroud of secrecy around US drone strikes abroad must be lifted

The success of the Al Farek case, along with interviews from witnesses in the drone study, raises huge questions as to why the military hasn’t attempt to capture more suspects so they can justice in court before sending drones to kill them. The administration has said for years it prefers capturing to killing–but the data indicates that they practice the opposite, as Micah Zenko detailed in Foreign Policy.

Terrorism Case Renews Debate Over Drone Hits

The decision to use an allied intelligence service to arrest Mr. Farekh has bolstered a case made by some that capturing—rather than killing—militant suspects, even in some of the world’s most remote places, is more feasible than the orders for hundreds of drone strikes might indicate. “This is an example that capturing can be done,” said Micah Zenko, a scholar at the Council on Foreign Relations who studies counterterrorism strikes. 

If this is what an anti-war presidency looks like to you, you're detached from reality

But as the Council on Foreign Relations’ Douglas Dillon Fellow Micah Zenko tweeted recently, “If 30 years of US as military hegemon in the Middle East resulted in the region today, why would more suddenly stabilize things?” No one seems to be willing to face the stack fact that US involvement is as much the cause of the instability as it is the alleged solution.

Drones: The face of the war on terror

Most have been drone strikes, the Obama administration's weapon of choice. It has authorized at least 450 attacks by unmanned aircraft, according to Micah Zenko, an analyst at the Council on Foreign Relations..."None of this would have been imaginable 14 years ago," Zenko said. "Now these are not a big deal."

Arms makers cautiously welcome new U.S. export policy on drones

Micah Zenko, a drone expert at the Council on Foreign Relations think tank, said U.S. allies were looking for training and maintenance in addition to the actual aircraft, which could spell further opportunities for companies in coming years.

Obama administration to allow sales of armed drones to allies

Micah Zenko, a scholar at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the new guidelines fill a gap in U.S. policy, given the growing global reliance on drones for military, surveillance and law enforcement purposes. “The important thing to know with armed drones is that based on America’s record, they lower the threshold for when countries use armed force,” Zenko said. “And when you have that lower threshold, it can change the calculus of countries.”

Be Not Afraid

“Today,” write Micah Zenko and Michael A. Cohen in Foreign Affairs, “wars tend to be low-intensity conflicts that, on average, kill about 90 percent fewer people than did violent struggles in the 1950s.” 

Isis war to extend far beyond Iraq and Syria under Obama's proposed plan

Authorization for the second global war “contrasts with the restraint that Obama likes to emphasize”, said Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations. “Politicians often describe their war aims with restraint, but the people who have to operationally conduct war like no restraints,” Zenko said. “Obama has given everyone who will service in his administration the ability to prosecute this war in as expansive a manner as they choose.”

Should U.S. Arm Ukraine? We List the Pros and Cons

Micah Zenko at the Council on Foreign Relations questions whether the delivery of arms is sufficient to force the Kremlin into negotiating a settlement. He says it isn’t certain to achieve the desired result and at the same time poses serious risks. It could induce Mr. Putin to double-down or lay bare the insignificance of Ukraine to the trans-atlantic alliance, he says.


How We Can Fight Terrorism Better in 2016

"The use of military force to bomb terrorist organizations in so-called safe havens appears to be one of the most powerful recruitment tools there is," Micah Zenko, a senior fellow at Council on Foreign Relations, says of attacking failed states like Syria or Yemen in the name of denying terrorists safe havens. "If you believe the Safe Haven Myth, you must continually use force to attack terrorists organizations, which provides the basis for their recruitment to replace the foot soldiers you killed."

Video Interview

How Should Govt. Shield Citizens From Terror Attacks?

“Kill-em-all with airstrikes” is not working against ISIS.That’s the acid conclusion from the Council on Foreign Relations’ Micah Zenko, who notes: 1) U.S. officials estimated in 2014 that the Islamic State group numbered about 30,000 fighters, 2) recently said 25,000 have been killed since then; and 3) now believe there are about 30,000.Council on Foreign Relations' Micah Zenko discusses terrorism. He speaks on "Bloomberg Surveillance."


The Drone War

On NBC's "Meet the Press," Micah Zenko discusses drone strikes in the wake of the Senate Torture Report, "In U.S. public opinion there is greater support for killing people than torturing them."

American Ended Torture But Continues Drone Strikes

But the end of one dark chapter roughly coincided with the beginning of a new one—one that remains very much open. As far back as 2004, notes Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations, the CIA began moving away from capturing and detaining suspected terrorists in favor of killing them via drone strikes. (Both the CIA and the Pentagon have drone programs, but the CIA conducts the majority of strikes.)

200,000 dead? Why Syria's death toll is so divisive

"There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of examples why [SOHR] is a terrible source," Miller explained in a follow-up email to The Post, before citing a list of his own criticism, including that moderate rebels were listed as civilians in the data – an apparent change to the methodology that was also noted by Micah Zenko at the Council of Foreign Relations

The Unblinking Stare

In a research paper published this summer, Micah Zenko and Sarah Kreps, two scholars at the Council on Foreign Relations, argued that the very precision of drone technology raises the prospect for “moral hazard.” The reduction in risks may tempt governments to order drones into action more frequently than they would conventional bombers or missiles. In other words, drones may spare more innocents but they may also create more war.

America's great terrorist mystery: When our allies and enemies engage in the same "evil"

Then there are the distinctions we make domestically. As the Council on Foreign Relations’ Micah Zenko notes, often domestic attacks with the same impact as terrorist acts are not treated as such.  For example, when Federal Aviation Administration contractor Brian Howard set fire to a Chicago FAA control center, it disrupted flights throughout the Midwest for a day, the kind of havoc terrorists would love to cause. But he has not been labeled a terrorist (on Wednesday, the government asked for an extension before they have to indict him, so that may still happen).

America's counter-terrorism lie: Waging war with secret rules, hypocrisy and worse

A belief that the promises made in 2013 have not been fulfilled is not a sentiment exclusive to human rights activists and attorneys, either. “There were a series of announced policy revisions after an extensive inter-agency review in May 2013,” Council on Foreign Relations’ expert Micah Zenko told Salon, “but most of those were never implemented. If you go through the list of things they said they were going to do,” he continued, “they just never did them.” And the items of the list weren’t minor or secondary: “Transferring [the drone program] from CIA to DOD, uniform standards for all [strikes], transparency, capture over kill … the repeal of AUMF … everything they said they were going to do they didn’t do.”

Asian Forum on Global Governance

Micah Zenko presented at the Asian Forum on Global Governance hosted by Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi, India.

Scholars' Convocation, "Limiting Armed Drone Proliferation"

Scholars’ Convocation, “Limiting Armed Drone Proliferation,” by Micah Zenko, the Douglas Dillon Fellow in the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations and vice chair of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Terrorism.

The stubborn optimism of Obama's foreign policy worldview

The world, as scary and dangerous as it can be, is safer than ever for Americans and for the United States. As Micah Zenko and Michael Cohen argued in an excellent 2012 piece for Foreign Affairs, the threats of the 21st century simply come nowhere close to the threats of the 20th.

Isis: Armed and dangerous

"There is a long history of [joint operations directors] giving briefings which make White House civilians very nervous," says Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Is the World a Mess?

Micah Zenko says the world has experienced other periods of chaos or unrest. The issue, he says, is that positive, or good, news does not get reported. He notes the drop in the number of child deaths and progress in fighting diseases like polio. He says people are living longer than their parents did and generally have better health. He also notes the spread of democracy around the world.

Hamas' Drone Program Will Not Worry Israel, Experts Say

"There are hundreds of versions of crude, tactical drones that are freely available to purchase, and it would be more surprising if Hamas did not possess and deploy them," said Micah Zenko of the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. "Though I would bet, like its rockets and mortars, they provide little demonstrable military utility."

The drone warfare drawbacks

In an almost-invisible campaign that started modestly under Bush and expanded dramatically under Obama, the U.S. has launched more than 1,600 drone strikes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and even, in one case, in the Philippines, according to Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Russia's Coming Combat Drones

In a report released this month, the Council on Foreign Relations' Micah Zenko and Sarah Kreps argue: "Russia, China, Iran, South Korea, and Taiwan, for example, have begun to develop increasingly sophisticated indigenous drone capabilities. Other countries, including Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), have publicized their intent to purchase them."

US Must Regulate Sale And Use Of Armed Drones, Says Report

In a new report called "Limiting Armed Drone Proliferation," published by the Council on Foreign Relations, Micah Zenko and Sarah Kreps argue that the time has arrived for the U.S. to set regulatory limits on the use of drones. Because drones do not have pilots, they write, the threshold for launching war is lower -- and the planes cannot avoid sudden danger as easily.

Droning On

No wonder other countries are eager to develop their own drone programs. According to a new report from the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), four other countries already possess military drones: Britain, Israel, China, and Iran. Others are moving forward with programs, including India and Pakistan. And a stealth drone called Neuron is being jointly developed by Switzerland, France, Italy, Spain, Greece, and Sweden.

Iraq crisis: Turkey's Erdogan warns on air strikes against Isis

"Turkey has to decide what conditions and limitations it will place on how the US uses force in Iraq, which they did in great granular detail for the northern Iraq no-fly zone in 1991-2003," said Micah Zenko, an expert in counterterrorism at the Council on Foreign Relations, referring to the decade-long effort to police Iraqi airspace.

Three Troubling Lessons from the Latest U.S. Drone Strikes

The two strikes in Pakistan were the first of 2014, breaking a nearly six-month pause in the CIA's drone campaign there. As Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations noted in a recent blog post, June 17th, 2014 marks 10 years of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan. "Never before in U.S. history has such a lengthy and lethal military campaign been so inadequately described or justified by the government, which retains the fiction that these strikes are 'covert' and unworthy of public examination," wrote Zenko.

The Siren Song of Missile Diplomacy

Over at Foreign Policy, Micah Zenko is wondering why discussion in the United States over how to respond to foreign policy crises always seems to center on a familiar choice: whether to bomb another country or else do nothing. Not only are other military options (including "boots on the ground") routinely taken off the table by politicians and their advisers, but nonmilitary alternatives for dealing with crises are too often given painfully short shrift. "The debate shrinks immediately around whether and how to use the tactic of force," Zenko laments.

Al-Qaeda's getting weaker - but terrorism is getting worse

Very few American citizens were killed by terrorist attacks in 2013, but that could change if these groups currently have, or eventually develop, a desire and an ability to attack American targets. "This is a huge debate within the [intelligence community] and the Pentagon," Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who studies threats to the US homeland, told me.

How should we count the war dead in Syria?

Micah Zenko and Amelia Wolf of the Council on Foreign Relations recently blogged that the actual number of people killed in Syria is vastly different from what is portrayed in the media. They suggest the level of civilian fatalities is in fact lower than what is being reported, and that pro-regime forces are dying in greater numbers than civilians. Their claims are not merely speculative, but based on data released by the Syrian Observatory on Human Rights (SOHR).

Policymaking by Remote Control

In and article in the current issue of Foreign Affairs – "The Next Drone Wars: Preparing for Proliferation" – Sarah Kreps and Micah Zenko argue that armed drones are here to stay and urge the U.S. to lead the establishment of international standards governing their use. Short of that, the authors fear both steady growth in the number of armed drone operations and a lowering of the threshold for drone strikes. More countries will employ more armed drones for more reasons, to the detriment of global stability.

Report: China, EMP threaten to wipe out U.S. satellites

A worrisome new memo from the Council on Foreign Relationsindicates that China, without warning, is poised to knock out U.S. satellites, especially those used by the Pentago "The threats to U.S. space assets are significant and growing," said the "contingency planning memo" titled "Dangerous Space Incidents." It also cited Iran, North Korea, space junk and electromagnetic pulse as threats.

Space isn't just the final frontier-it's a dangerous venue for geopolitical brinksmanship

American national security analyst Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations outlines these concerns in a new report on the growing threat of dangerous space incidents. He compares the problem to cybersecurity, another relatively new concern that has attracted attention from the world's security leaders. In comparison, he says that senior officials are not paying enough attention to potential problems in space, where there is much less room for error.

Space terrorism, floating debris pose threats to US

"Threats to U.S. satellites would reduce the country's ability to attack suspected terrorists with precision-guided munitions and conduct imagery analysis of nuclear weapons programs, and could interrupt non-cash economic activity depending on the severity of the attack and number of satellites disrupted," wrote Micah Zenko, the Douglas Dillon Fellow at the CFR's Center for Preventive Action and the report's author.

How space trash could start a nuclear war

The report makes a not-crazy case that efforts by China and other powers to limit America's total military dominance of space could accidentally destroy an American satellite, inadvertently convincing the US that war was coming and prompting retaliation on Earth. Its author, Micah Zenko, has made a name for himself in report-after-report downplaying the threat to the United States from China, terrorists, and, really, most things. So that fact that Zenko is this concerned about spaceshould tell you something.

US facing increased threats to its space interests, report says

"The United States has strategic interests in preventing and mitigating dangerous space incidents, given its high reliance on satellites for a variety of national security missions and unparalleled global security commitments and responsibilities," writes Micah Zenko, the report's author. "The longer the United States delays preventive and mitigating efforts, the less dominant its position will be in shaping 'rules of the road' for space."

How the U.S. Is Vulnerable to Terrorism in Space

For example, if one of these hostile countries acquires advanced space capabilities, they could feasibly attack a U.S. satellite to gain an upper hand in negotiations, hold off potential hostile acts, or as an act of defense, says Micah Zenko, the Douglas Dillon fellow in the Center for Preventive Action at the CFR and the report's author. But, according to Zenko's report, terrorists take a back seat to another space threat: accidents.

What Briefing Chinese Officials On Cyber Really Accomplishes

Chinese defense planners, like their counterparts in the Pentagon, will be looking at capabilities more than stated intentions. Moreover, as my colleague Micah Zenko pointed out to me, there is often a disconnect between what policy makers and warfighters say.

Drone Proliferation Tests Arms Control

"It's a pretty contentious fight" between the State Department's Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation and the Pentagon's Defense Technology Security Administration, said Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, in a March 17 interview. The State Department says that "if you pull at the thread of MTCR, you will weaken the nonproliferation regime as a whole. The other side says the international market is going to supply these UAVs anyway," Zenko said.

Risk and Geopolitics

Experts discuss current geopolitical trends and the risk of conflicts taking place around the world.

US foreign policy's gender gap

The dearth of women in US foreign policy is a subject of continual interest, mostly because it never changes. According to a 2011 survey by policy analyst Micah Zenko, women make up less than 30 percent of senior positions in the government, military, academy, and think tanks.

Syrian Rebels Will Face ISIS, But The U.S. May Not Have Their Backs

Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, thinks the administration is unresolved on what they want to do. "I mean, how committed [do] they really want to be for this?" Zenko says. He says the U.S. could find it hard to recruit Syrian fighters in the future if the first to be trained can't rely on America to watch their backs.

Drones and the Kill List Now

On NPR's On Point with Tom Ashbrook, Micah Zenko discusses the White House's debate on targeting a U.S. citizen with a drone strike, "kill lists," and U.S. drone strike policies.

Why a Pakistani reporter is suing the CIA for murder

This lower-court ruling hasn't halted the US drone program. Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations says the White House's argument is that Pakistan's military "cannot or will not address the threat to US persons." By this logic, "it does not matter if the Pakistani Parliament or courts weigh in," he says.

Congress Resists Pentagon Drone Oversight as U.S. and Partners Continue Targeted Killings

Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations, who has argued that lead authority for drone strikes should be consolidated under the Defense Department, explains that placing the program under Pentagon control "would allow the program to be defended publicly," which is not the case for the covert drone program controlled by the CIA. He adds that the move would not necessarily have operational implications for how the program is carried out.

U.S. Use of Military Force

At the New America Foundation, Micah Zenko served as a panelist to discuss the use of force by the United States after 9/11, particularly the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF).

The Drone Problem

On October 8, 2013, the Straddler met with Micah Zenko to discuss U.S. drone strike policies.

War by Remote

Micah Zenko spoke on a panel titled "Strategy & Law" at a conference, "War by Remote: The Battlefields of the Future," at the University of Copenhagen.

A Translation Guide to Foreign Policy Gibberish

Micah Zenko was interviewed live on Press Pool on Sirius XM Radio to expand on his article "A Translation Guide to Foreign Policy Gibberish," which was published on (September 4, 2013).

Drones in Yemen

As the United States attempts to battle terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), many have raised questions about the efficacy of drones strikes as part of a larger counter-terrorism strategy. Micah Zenko, the Douglas Dillon fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, evaluates how effective the U.S. counter-terrorism strategy is.

Challenges to peace and security in times of drones, robots and digital warfare

At the Heinrich Böll Foundation's14th Annual Foreign Policy Conference, Micah Zenko served on a panel titled, "Summary and outlook: on the issue of containing high-tech weapons in international political frameworks." Panelists discussed the challenges that new weapons and technologies pose to peace, security, and international law.

Drones, Kill-lists, and Accountability

Micah Zenko spoke at the 2013 Alexander Hamilton Society Student Leader Conference on a panel discussion, "Drones, Kill-lists, and Accountability," in which he gave a response to a presentation by Gregory McNeal of Pepperdine University.

Add Morality to List of Drone Victims

Yet while Obama described drone strikes in the same breath as "a necessary evil," defining unmanned aerial violence as indispensable to U.S. national security is wrongheaded. As Micah Zenko's special report for the Council on Foreign Relations on reforming drone policy notes, the drawbacks actually outweigh the benefits.

Drone Strikes and Diplomacy, from Yemen to Pakistan

On The Takeaway with John Hockenberry, Micah Zenko, Douglas Dillon Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of a recent comprehensive report on drone strike policies, describes the diplomatic problems that arise from targeted killing.

Discussion about President Obama's speech

On the Charlie Rose show, a panel of experts discussed President Obama's May 23, 2013 speech on drone strike and counterterrorism policies, including Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations; David Kilcullen, former advisor to Gen. Petraeus; David Ignatius of the Washington Post; Karen Greenberg of Fordham Law School;and Philip Mudd, former Deputy Director of the CIA and the FBI.

Debate Aside, Number of Drone Strikes Drops Sharply

"Globally these operations are hated," said Micah Zenko, a scholar at the Council on Foreign Relations who wrote a major study of targeted killing this year. "It's the face of American foreign policy, and it's an ugly face."

Do Our Drone Policies Make Any Sense?

President Obama says he is free to use drones to attack senior members of al Qaeda who are planning to attack the United States. So far drones may have killed as many as 4,700 people, including American citizens. What, if any, limitations should be placed on the president in using drones to target and kill suspected terrorists? Council on Foreign Relations fellow Micah Zenko tells Jim Zirin that definitive standards are necessary to prevent drone attacks from spinning out of control.

As New Drone Policy Is Weighed, Few Practical Effects Are Seen

But Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations, who studies counterterrorism strikes, said that in the long run, a move away from the covert side of the C.I.A. might make sense, allowing Congress to discuss the strikes and their consequences far more fully in public. "If it's a priority of the president and the secretary of defense, the military can be far more open than the C.I.A.," Mr. Zenko said.

When the Whole World Has Drones

"The drones—the responsiveness, the persistence, and without putting your personnel at risk—is what makes it a different technology," Zenko said. "When other states have this technology, if they follow U.S. practice, it will lower the threshold for their uses of lethal force outside their borders. So they will be more likely to conduct targeted killings than they have in the past."

Rand Paul Talks His Way Into The Political Big Time

"The filibuster theater was representative of this administration's unwillingness to engage with Congress on targeted killings," says Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who has followed the drone issue closely and wrote a blog post about Paul's filibuster.

How to Behave in Space

Micah Zenko argues that the world needs a code of conduct for behavior in space—and that the United States should take the lead in negotiating one.

Debating Drones, in the Open

"Some 3,500 people have died in 420 strikes, and Congress has yet to hold a single public hearing on this issue," said Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. "It has happened in the dark because we have allowed it to, and the press has far and away been the lead actor in surfacing this issue."

Drone Strikes Under Scrutiny

The United States has conducted more than 400 total strikes in at least three countries — Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia — killing more than 3,000 people in its war on Al Qaeda, according to a report by Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Open-source Data Contradicts Feinstein on 'Single-Digit' Civilian Drone Deaths

In her introductory comments to John Brennan's confirmation hearing to becoming director of central intelligence, Sen. Dianne Feinstein asserted that civilian casualties from U.S. drone strikes now number in the single digits annually. Those numbers are difficult to know with any certainty, and official U.S. estimates are secret. But some organizations do follow open-source reports on the strikes and attempt to track individual civilian casualties. At least some of their numbers, gathered by the scholar Micah Zenko for a Council on Foreign Relations report, appear to contradict Feinstein's assessment.

Brennan Faces Drone Attack from Senators

Micah Zenko at the Council on Foreign Relations believes that political pressure is now going to mount over drones, just as it once did for Mr. Bush over torture and wiretapping, leaving the Obama administration a choice between "drone policy reforms by design or drone policy reforms by default".

Brennan's Confirmation and Where CIA Drones Go From Here

Micah Zenko, a Council on Foreign Relations Douglas Dillon Fellow who wrote a 2013 special report on drones, notes drones did not come up in hearings for previous CIA directors Michael Hayden or Leon Panetta.

Senators, John Brennan Brace for National Security Showdown in CIA Hearing

But Zenko cautioned against those who would head into the Brennan hearing with high hopes for new information. Having read transcripts of the past 10 CIA director confirmation hearings, he said, "It would be unprecedented if there were an in-depth discussion about ongoing covert activities." The Senate Intelligence Committee "simply doesn't work that way, especially under chairman Sen. (Dianne) Feinstein" of California, he said.

Propaganda Programs Hard to Justify, Panetta Says

"The Pentagon has an obligation to the American people, and the world, to provide information and tell its story — if nothing else to counter myths and misinformation," Zenko said in an e-mail. "But it should only do so in an open and transparent way. Using third-party contractors to shape public opinion is dishonest and unethical."

U.S. Drone Strategy Draws Home-grown Criticism Over Lack of Transparency

The report's author, Micah Zenko, also urged an end to controversial "signature strikes" that kill supposed militants based on what they are observed doing and whose company they keep. Instead, he wrote, attacks should be limited to identified "leaders of transnational terrorist organisations and individuals with direct involvement in past or continuing plots against the United States and its allies".

Grading Professor Hagel

Writers like George Friedman and Robert D. Kaplan don't really care about human institutions as much as geopolitics. He also assigned some interesting work by Joseph Parent & Paul McDonald, as well as Micah Zenko & Michael Cohen, on strategic restraint and threat inflation, respectively.

Targeted Killings: Obama's Endless War

"In many ways, Brennan is a paradox: a devout Catholic who apparently opposes 'enhanced interrogations,' the death penalty at home, and those inside the government who want to expand the targeted-killing program further," said Micah Zenko.

Ten Questions for Chuck Hagel

Bonus follow-up on drones: "Same question: are we setting an equally dangerous precedent here? And do you agree with critics who say that current drone strikes are often counterproductive because they create as many extremists as they take out?"

The Future International Security Environment

Micah Zenko is interviewed to discuss "The Future of International Security Environment" at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, with Mathew Burrows, Michael S. Chase, and Peter W. Singer.

Armed Drones Could Target President: Former U.S. Intelligence Chief

Blair said the Obama administration has only "partly thought through" the repercussions of its expanded drone attack campaign, including the inevitable proliferation of drone technology to other countries and organizations. He spoke Tuesday on a call organized by the Council on Foreign Relations, with senior analyst Micah Zenko.

Former Obama Official Defends Drone Program, Calls For More Transparency

That combination negatively impacts the U.S. mission in the countries it is trying to impact, Zenko argued. "Drones are the face of U.S. foreign policy" in Pakistan and Yemen, he said. "We allow the Taliban, and the Pakistani [intelligence agency], to tell the story of how our drones are being used."

Obama Overseas: Speak Loudly And Carry A Smaller Stick

"It's certainly cheaper," says Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who has studied drone attacks. "The dichotomy the administration puts forward is that we can put 170,000 troops on the ground, or we can do drone strikes."

New U.S. Counterterrorism Guidelines Face Questions

In a telephone conference call Tuesday, former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair and Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations voiced their concerns...ZENKO: "If the United States decides not to apply the playbook to Pakistan it is essentially meaningless because 85 percent of all the targeted killings that the U.S. has conducted in non-battlefield settings since September 11, 2001, have occurred in Pakistan. So the vast majority of targeted killings and drone strikes will not be covered under the playbook."

America is Setting a Dangerous Precedent for the Drone Age

Micah Zenko of the Council of Foreign Relations makes this argument in a new report: A major risk is that of proliferation. Over the next decade, the U.S. near-monopoly on drone strikes will erode as more countries develop and hone this capability. In this uncharted territory, U.S. policy provides a powerful precedent for other states and nonstate actors that will increasingly deploy drones with potentially dangerous ramifications.

Doubts About Drones

"The real reason for most of these strikes has been to protect a regime in Pakistan or Yemen," Zenko said.

Election Spurred a Move to Codify U.S. Drone Policy

"Unless they were about to get on a flight to New York to conduct an attack, they were not an imminent threat to the United States," said Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who is a critic of the strikes. "We don't say that we're the counterinsurgency air force of Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, but we are."

4 More Drones! Robot Attacks Are on Deck for Obama's Next Term

"There is a recognition within the administration that the current trajectory of drone strikes is unsustainable," Zenko says. "They are opposed in countries where strikes occur and globally, and that opposition could lead to losing host-nation support for current or future drone bases or over-flight rights."

Most U.S. Drones Openly Broadcast Secret Video Feeds

"If somebody could obtain reliable access to real-time Predator or Reaper video—without attribution or alerting U.S. military—that would a tremendous intel coup," says Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Obama Finally Talks Drone War, But It's Almost Impossible to Believe Him

"What I found most striking was his claim that legitimate targets are a 'threat that is serious and not speculative,' and engaged in 'some operational plot against the United States,' That is simply not true," emails the Council on Foreign Relations' Micah Zenko, who has tracked the drone war as closely as any outside analyst. "The claim that the 3,000+ people killed in roughly 375 nonbattlefield targeted killings were all engaged in actual operational plots against the U.S. defies any understanding of the scope of what America has been doing for the past ten years."

Obama Neutralizes A Typical Source Of GOP Strength

"There are more mentions of Osama bin Laden than unemployment in the Democratic national platform," says Micah Zenko, a fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations. "You play to what your strengths are."