Kimberly Marten

Professor and Department Chair

Kimberly Marten is chairing the Barnard political science department for the second time, after holding the 5-year term Ann Whitney Olin Professorship (2013-18). She is a faculty member of Columbia's Harriman Institute for Russian and East-Central European Studies, and Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies. She is a founding member of PONARS-Eurasia. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs Foreign Policy Experts Panel.

Her current research focuses on Russian foreign and security policy. She has analyzed Russia’s use of the Wagner Group private military company (in Post-Soviet Affairs; a PONARS-Eurasia memoLawfare; and War on the Rocks), and its intelligence agencies (Routledge Handbook and the Journal of Slavic Military Studies). Marten has explained (International Politics) Putin's decision to meddle in the 2016 U.S. elections, and used counterfactual analysis to reexamine the causes and effects of NATO enlargement (European Journal of International Security).  She has recommended a measured U.S. policy toward NATO/Russia relations (CFR report), and a limited U.S.-Russia cyber accord (The New Republic). Other Russia-related work is in ForeignAffairs.comH-Diplo, the Huffington Post, the Washington Post's Monkey Cage Blog (herehere, here, herehere, and here), and The Washington Quarterly.

She appeared on the The Daily Show (extended interview here) with Jon Stewart, CBS This Morning Saturday (here and here), the Charlie Rose Show, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow show and The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, PBS NewsHour Weekend with Hari Sreenivasan (herehereherehere, and here), NPR's All Things Considered with Ari Shapiro and Audie Cornish, Fresh Air with Terry Gross, The 1A (here, here, and here) with Joshua Johnson, Here and Now with Robin Young, KQED's Forum, and WNYC's The Takeaway.

Her most recent previous project analyzed the politics of warlords, asking how their patronage networks impact sovereignty and state failure. In Warlords: Strong-Arm Brokers in Weak States (Cornell University Press, 2012), Marten traces the development of warlordism and its consequences in the tribal areas of Pakistan, Sunni Arab areas of Iraq, and post-Soviet Georgia and the Republic of Chechnya in Russia. She discussed the book on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show and Wisconsin Public Radio.  The book was reviewed in an H-Diplo/International Security Studies Forum roundtable. In International Security, she compares warlordism in Afghanistan and Somalia to medieval Europe and Republican-era China. She researched militias and security sector reform in weak states, including work on the Palestinian Authority Security Forces, published in International Peacekeeping and in the International Herald Tribune/New York Times. Her chapter on the Afghan Local Police appears in an edited volume on The Transnational Governance of Violence and Crime, following an earlier opinion piece in the IHT/NYT. With Olga Oliker she analyzes the threat of warlordism in Ukraine's patriotic militias in War on the Rocks.

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

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

POLS UN1601  International Politics
Syllabus Fall 2019
POLS  GU4875 Russia and the West
Syllabus Spring 2019
POLS BC3055  Colloquium on Political Violence and Terrorism
Syllabus Spring 2018
POLS BC3118 Colloquium on International Security
Syllabus Fall 2018
POLS BC3812  Colloquium on State Failure, Warlords and Pirates
Syllabus Spring 2017



"Russia’s Use of Semi-State Security Forces: The Case of the Wagner Group," Post-Soviet Affairs, published online March 2019,

"Into Africa: Prigozhin, Wagner, and the Russian Military," PONARS-Eurasia Policy Memo 561, Jan. 2019, 

“The Intelligence Agencies and Putin: Undermining Russia’s Security?” in The Routledge Handbook of Russian Security, ed. Roger Kanet (Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2019), pp. 192-202.

With Olga Oliker, "Brothers in Arms? Why Trump Should Push Putin to Revive Arms Control,", July 13, 2018, 

"Semi-state Security Actors and Russian Aggression," Lawfare blog, July 8, 2018, 

"The Puzzle of Russian Behavior in Deir-al-zour," War on the Rocks blog, July 5, 2018,

"Reckless Ambition: Moscow's Policy toward the United States, 2016/17," International Politics, 2018, online first,

“Explaining Russia’s Schizophrenic Policy toward the United States,” PONARS Eurasia Policy Memo 501, Jan. 2018.

"Reconsidering NATO Expansion: A Counterfactual Analysis of Russia and the West in the 1990s," European Journal of International Security 3, no. 2 (June 2018), doi:10.1017/eis.2017.16 . Published online first.

"Digital Détente: The Case for Cyber Peace with Russia," The New Republic, Jan./Feb. 2018 (published online Nov. 28, 2017),

With Olga Oliker, "Ukraine's Volunteer Militias May Have Saved the Country, but Now They Threaten It," War on the Rocks, Sept. 14, 2017,

"President Trump, Keep in Mind that Russia and the West Think about Negotiations Very, Very Differently," Washington Post Monkey Cage blog, July 25, 2017.

"The ‘KGB State’ and Russian Political and Foreign Policy Culture," Journal of Slavic Military Studies 30, no. 2 (April 2017): 131-51.

Reducing Tensions between NATO and Russia, Council Special Report 79 (Council on Foreign Relations Center for Preventive Action), March 2017.

Essay in SSF Policy Roundtable 1-7: Russia and the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, March 27, 2017. 

"Trump and Putin, through a Glass Darkly," Asia Policy 23 (Jan. 2017): 36-42.

"The Security Costs and Benefits of Non-State Militias: The Example of Eastern Ukraine," PONARS Eurasia Policy Memo 391, September 2015.

“Debunking the Stationary Bandit Myth: Violence and Governance in Statebuilding History,” in Non-State Challenges in a Re-Ordered World: The Jackals of Westphalia? ed. Stefano Ruzza, Anja P. Jakobi and Charles C. Geisler (New York: Routledge, 2015).

“Putin’s Choices: Explaining Russian Foreign Policy and Intervention in Ukraine,” The Washington Quarterly 38, no. 2 (Summer 2015): 189-204.

“Informal Political Networks and Putin’s Foreign Policy: The Examples of Iran and Syria,” Problems of Post-Communism 62, no. 2 (April 2015): 71-87.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Twitter: @KimberlyMarten


Telephone: 212-854-5115 


Office Hours: 

Milstein Center 1106, by appointment. Sign up via Google Calendar:

Note: please make sure you have your own Google Calendar app open, and set to US East Coast time, before trying to schedule an appointment. If you must cancel your appointment, please do so the night before; otherwise your sign-up is your commitment to appear.


A.B., Harvard University

Ph.D., Stanford University

Related Web Sites: 

In the News