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Professor Michael Clarke

Position: Director General

Professor Michael Clarke is currently the Director General of the Royal United Services Institute. Until July 2007 he was Deputy Vice-Principal and Director of Research Development at King's College London, where he is now also Visiting Professor of Defence Studies. He was, from 1990 to 2001 the founding Director of the Centre for Defence Studies at King's. He was appointed Professor of Defence Studies in 1995.  He was the founding Director of the International Policy Institute at King's College London from 2001-2005 and Head of the School of Social Science and Public Policy at KCL in 2004-05.

He has previously taught international politics at the Universities of Aberystwyth, Manchester and Newcastle upon Tyne, and also at the University of New Brunswick, and the Open University. He has been a Guest Fellow at The Brookings Institution, Washington, DC, and a Fellow in Foreign Policy Studies at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London.

He has been a Specialist Adviser to the House of Commons Defence Committee since 1997, having served previously with the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee 1995-6, and the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Bribery in 2009. In 2004 he was appointed the UK member of the United Nations Secretary General's Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters. In 2009 he was appointed to the Prime Minister's National Security Forum and in 2010 to the Chief of Defence Staff's new Strategic Advisory Group. He also serves on the Strategic Advisory Panel on Defence for UK Trade and Industry.

His recent publications include: The Afghan Papers: Committing Britain to War in Helmand 2005-06, London, RUSI/Routledge 2011; United Kingdom: Strategic Posture Review, World Politics Review, November 2011; 'Does War Have a Future?, in Lindley-French and Boyar eds., The Oxford Handbook of War, Oxford, OUP, 2012.


RUSI articles and analysis by this author

Reyaad Khan RAF air strike on British citizen: A high risk strategy 7 Sep 2015
Today the British Prime Minister controversially announced that two British citizens were killed in RAF drone strikes. The point is not so much that they were British but that he was targeted in an area that the UK does not currently regard, legally, as an operational theatre of war for UK forces.

Cold War Berlin The Ending of Wars and the Ending of Eras 21 Aug 2015
The definition of military victory and political success is in flux, with the twenty-first century characterised by sub-state rather than state-level conflict

Lone soldier Helmand Britain’s Fourth Afghan War 28 Oct 2014
This week, UK Armed Forces formally ended combat operations in Helmand. British troops return from Afghanistan not with a victory, but a score draw away from home; a job well done in unpropitious circumstances.

NATO flag thumb The NATO Summit: The Long Agenda of One Item 2 Sep 2014
The NATO summit in Wales will be a watershed moment for the Alliance as it finds itself in pole position to respond to the Russian challenge to European security (Free access)

The RUSI Roll of Honour: Real War, Real People 6 Aug 2014
As the Great War centenary commemorations get under way, there is an opportunity to look more closely at the realities of the conflict. RUSI’s Roll of Honour, listing the more than 500 members of the Institute who died between August 1914 and November 1918, is one such window on the past.

Jnl 159 2 Braithwaite thumb Ukraine Crisis: The Strategic Importance of Slavyansk 1 May 2014
The Ukranian city of Slavyansk has become the focus in a game of deterrence and brinkmanship that Kiev and Moscow feel compelled to play and in which, despite evident Russian military planning, neither is likely to be in full control.

RUSI Briefing Examines Possible Russian Military Strategies Against Ukraine 4 Apr 2014
Based on current knowledge, expert insight and research, RUSI has published a briefing setting out four military scenarios that now have to be factored into the political calculations for Russian and Ukranian militaries.

Michael Clarke 1 2014 Another Year of Strategy 19 Dec 2013
For UK policy planners, the year ahead will be dominated by strategy formulation in preparation for possible transition in 2015.

Prompting Discussion in the Defence and Security Industries 19 Sep 2013
A foreword to a special edition of RDS by the Director-General of RUSI

Persian Gulf The New East of Suez Question: Damage Limitation after Failure Over Syria 19 Sep 2013
The UK can do little to affect the Syrian civil war. But it is shoring up its interests on the periphery of the conflagration, reinforcing the UK’s military reorientation East of Suez. The question is whether, in light of Parliament’s vote last month, the Government now wants to say so.

Thatcher at RUSI 2001 The Iron Lady's Mark on UK Foreign and Security Policy 8 Apr 2013
No one doubted that Margaret Thatcher was a uniquely significant figure in the United Kingdom's foreign and security policies.

Cyprus EU flag Cyprus: the Mouse That Roared 27 Mar 2013
The eastern Mediterranean has been spring loaded for an international political crisis for many months now. Is the Cypriot Euro crisis the mouse that finally sets off the trap?

Terrorism 2011 image An Insight into Jihadist Strategy in the Sahel 14 Feb 2013
The revelation of documents from fleeing jihadists in Mali reveals a centrally-directed attempt to achieve all the old Al-Qa'ida ambitions: to ally with other political movements in order to hijack them.

David Cameron 2010 Election Responses to Sahel Terrorism: Music to Jihadist Ears 22 Jan 2013
The attacks on Algerian gas installations and the Mali insurgency has led the UK Prime Minister to describe this as a 'generational struggle'. However, what is happening across the Sahel region is a different terrorist challenge altogether, requiring a reappraisal in strategy.

BAE SYSTEMS SHIP The Merger Between EADS and BAE Systems is Long-Overdue 14 Sep 2012
The marriage between EADS and BAE Systems is logical as the defence market shrinks further and the United States pivots towards Asia. The challenge will lie in the governments that influence these two firms.

UK Soldiers At Olympic Park Olympic Medals for the Military 21 Aug 2012
The last minute military boost to Olympic security allowed the Armed Forces to be seen as a normal and average part of a relaxed and self-confident British society. The Chiefs should bottle that spirit for the difficult years to come, and politicians should realise that this was a one-off service.

Marching British Soldiers The Long and Winding Road: Army 2020 5 Jul 2012
Size is not everything as the British Army announces reductions in personnel. Though sheer quantity is certainly not irrelevant, the numbers in the Regular Army are rather less important than the structure, training and equipment that it embraces.

Bomber Command thumbnail And the Poppies Fell in Soho - The Unveiling of the Bomber Command Memorial 28 Jun 2012
Even though there were glitches at the unveiling ceremony of the Bomber Command Memorial, it was no less moving. After sixty years of campaigning for this remembrance of fallen comrades, this bit of human frailty made it quietly, comically, magnificent.

The Falklands: The Security Equation in 2012 16 Mar 2012
Megaphone diplomacy precedes the forthcoming thirtieth anniversary of the Falklands War. But the stakes are too high for Argentina to turn the rhetoric into another armed conflict.

UKTA Badge UKTA No. 1: Counter-Terrorism in an Olympic Year 7 Feb 2012
The first report focuses on the British counter-terrorism landscape as we prepare ourselves for the 2012 Olympic Games.

2012 button VIDEO: Perspectives for 2012 16 Dec 2011
RUSI Director General Professor Michael Clarke offers his defence and international security perspectives for the year ahead.

Whitehall Paper 77 cover small The Afghan Papers: Committing Britain to War in Helmand, 2005-06 (WHP 77) 8 Dec 2011
Ten years after British troops entered Afghanistan, a new book dissects the strategic decisions that took the UK to war in Helmand

Libya Rebels Accidental Heroes: Britain, France and the Libya Operation - RUSI Interim Libya Campaign Report 23 Sep 2011
23/09/11: A RUSI report looks at the diplomatic, strategic and military aspects of the recent Libya campaign.

Michael Clarke The 9/11 Decade and the Challenges Ahead 6 Sep 2011
Professor Michael Clarke, Director-General, RUSI, outlines the milestones of the last decade since the attacks of 11 September 2001.

Libya Arming Rebels Curious victory for NATO in Libya 23 Aug 2011
Few dispute the assertion that NATO jets enabled Libyan rebels to come knocking on Qadhafi's door in Tripoli. But as he falls, it will be difficult to avoid the conclusion that NATO emerges from this successful operation weaker than it went into it.

Securing the State 2 The 9/11 Reading List: British Security 3 Aug 2011
Michael Clarke reviews 'Securing the State' by David Omand

British troop movement Charging up the Valley: British Decisions in Afghanistan 1 Aug 2011
The UK deployment to Helmand in 2006 has proven highly controversial. But was the decision taken properly?

David Richards and Liam Fox The Top Brass and the Politicians: Strained Relations 4 Jul 2011
Recent tensions between British politicians and the military top brass are a symptom of the uncertainty over whose long term vision for British defence policy is the more realistic. Such tensions are not new, demonstrating the inability of policymakers to get to grips with strategy.

Libya Arming Rebels Un-strategic Victory in Libya 31 May 2011
Operational success in Libya appears to be close for anti-Qadhafi rebels and their international military backers. But victory will bring the NATO powers little direct strategic benefit. Grateful for success, we should nevertheless be careful how we interpret it and understand the limitations of success for the West and the wider policy implications for the Middle East.

Osama Bin Laden The Death of Bin Laden: Analysing the Implications 6 May 2011
RUSI's experts examine the implications of the death of Osama Bin Laden and the operation that led to his killing

The Killing of Osama: Easy Operation as a result of Hard Intelligence 6 May 2011
The audacious operation that killed Osama Bin Laden was completed relatively shortly. It reaped the benefits of a careful intelligence operation that lasted months, if not years.

Libya Protest Libya: A first step towards full military involvement? 20 Apr 2011
As the UK sends military officers to advise Libyan rebels, RUSI analysts assesses the merits of the latest phase in the international intervention in Libya.

Qadhafi Portrait The Dangers of Leaving Libya to Languish 31 Mar 2011
The back-and-forth nature of the Libyan conflict thus far underlines the need for external actors to facilitate a decisive change of fortune

No Fly Zone Operation Southern Watch Raising the Stakes 19 Mar 2011
The UN's approval of a no-fly zone over Libya has raised the diplomatic and strategic stakes for all parties - but will it be enough?

How effective is the Strategic Defence and Security Review? 11 Jan 2011
Professor Michael Clarke warns that Ministry of Defence plans to save £4 billion in spending over the next four years is not enough and that further cuts are inevitable.

UK and US troops in Iraq Has the Defence Review secured Britain's place in the world? 20 Oct 2010
For all the arguing and the leaks that have surrounded this Defence Review, there is some clear grand strategy behind it. The Government has decided that Britain will still strive to remain a global player.

National Security 2 The National Security Strategy and the Strategic Defence and Security Review 18 Oct 2010
Are the strategic threats and opportunities adequately recognised in the Strategic Defence and Security Review?

British Army The Strategic Moment: Britain faces impossible choices in an unstable and uncertain world 13 Sep 2010
The Strategic Defence and Security Review is being conducted against a backdrop of bitter arguments between the Services and the threats of cuts of up to 20 per cent, yet it is meant to define Britain's place in the world and our foreign policy and defence priorities for decades to come.

Faisal Shahzad in court Terrorism: The New Wave 26 Aug 2010
A new wave of terrorists, highly motivated but lightly trained, are emerging, creating a new risk that has yet to be fully understood

Kuwait Diplomatic Institute Kuwaiti Security Dialogue 10 Aug 2010
RUSI to broker a series of high-level meetings between UK and Kuwaiti policymakers

Afghanistan analysis The leaking of the Afghan War documents 26 Jul 2010
How significant is the release of the Afghan war documents on WikiLeaks? RUSI Director Michael Clarke gives his assessment

McChrystal and Petraeus A Bad Week for Afghan Strategists 24 Jun 2010
While the sombre landmark of the three hundredth British death was passed this week, and the Commander has been summarily replaced, politicians and military leaders reveal divisions at the top that make everyone wonder whether the campaign is winnable.

General Election Content Leaders' Debate: Not Much to Choose in Principle, Just a Matter of Emphasis 23 Apr 2010
Seeing the effects of personal style on the outcome of last week’s debate, all three leaders tried to put their personality into the defence and security tussle; not an easy thing to do when trying to be a world figure.

Parliament Big Ben General Election 2010: Defence issues and the party positions 24 Mar 2010
RUSI Director Professor Michael Clarke, and RUSI's Director of Military Sciences, Michael Codner, offer their assessment on the defence and security issues that may be raised either prior to or immediately after the UK General Election.

Operation Moshtarak Soldier What Will Success Look Like in Operation Moshtarak? 16 Feb 2010
Operation Moshtarak is the most important campaign in Afghanistan since the invasion in 2001. Its success, however, will not be measured in military terms but in terms of public opinion, both in Helmand and the rest of Afghanistan and in the Coalition's domestic electorate.

Tony Blair a the Iraq Inquiry Blair was 'optimistic not criminal' 29 Jan 2010
Tony Blair's evidence to the Iraq inquiry may focus on the legality of the war. But he is guilty of confused optimism rather than an urge to behave illegally.

MoD logo Our most devastating weapon is agility 25 Jan 2010
Our services must get smarter to cope with today’s threats. Their ability to adapt and maintain their high professionalism and dedication in a range of roles and with a variety of technologies is key to playing to British strengths.

Afghanistan Civil Military 2 Afghans optimistic for the future 11 Jan 2010
The results of an annual poll of Afghan opinion show a surprising degree of optimism for their country's future direction. But we should not rest on our laurels. A great deal could go wrong before the favourable perceptions can be seen to have turned a genuine corner in Afghanistan.

The turn of the wheel: 2010 and the return of old security problems 3 Jan 2010
As the effects of the global recession begins to be felt, this year will emphasise some new political realities in the international order. They will form the backdrop to the return of some traditional security issues.

MoD logo Defence Cuts: Something is going to give 16 Dec 2009
Bob Ainsworth, the Defence Secretary, has announced deep cuts in military personnel and equipment to fund a £900 million boost for the Afghanistan campaign. However the figures may not stack up. Something is going to give and in a big way. Defence is living through a slow motion road accident while it waits for the political wheel to turn and give it some strategic direction.

ANP thumbnail Will Afghan security forces be ready for a handover by 2011? 3 Dec 2009
President Obama made clear his intention to hand over full security responsibility in some areas to Afghan National Security Forces. All easier said than done, the essence of the problem lies in daunting numbers and even more daunting issues of quality and loyalty.

Michael Clarke on Channel 4 News Assessing troop numbers in Afghanistan 30 Nov 2009
What General McChrystal asked for was five more brigades - five more brigades that he can use in Kandahar, in Helmand, a couple in the north east and a training brigade. So if he gets those five brigades then he's got backing for his plan whatever the final number turns out to be

Afghan lead item RIGHT IMAGE Avoiding the same mistakes: the international strategy for Afghanistan 29 Nov 2009
As President Obama announces his plans for Afghanistan, there is palpable consensus within the international community that the whole enterprise is now staring strategic defeat in the face. The next eighteen months represents the last good opportunity to put right the neglect and the mistakes of the last eight years and avert a worse crisis for us all.

India - Foreign Policy - Flag Up to the task? India's response to shifting security patterns 28 Oct 2009
India faces important economic and strategic choices over the next decade, especially in terms of its diplomatic relations and defence industry. While there are limited signs that India has made positive steps to improve regional relations, urgent reform is needed at the national level to ensure its security.

Helmand Afghanistan Royal Marines Better equipment can help, but we need more troops in Afghanistan 13 Jul 2009
While greater numbers of helicopters and armoured vehicles are needed in Afghanistan, what British soldiers at the front want most are reinforcements to make operational success more certain and the political benefits more long-lasting.

Newsbrief Clarke The Defence Review: Formally Announced but Already Begun 10 Jul 2009
The announcement of the next Future Defence Review to be carried out by a new Parliament marks the official beginning of a long process of discussions about the state of the Armed Forces, but the review of strategy has been going on for a long time before.

The Tamil Tigers are beaten but it isn't over yet 20 May 2009
The Sri Lankan Government is claiming victory but no insurgency is ever beaten by force alone

20 Brigade departs from Iraq Picture by Corporal W A draw in Iraq, no victory near in Helmand 3 May 2009
Troops need to believe that they risk their lives for things that are genuinely important.

NATO at 60 Official logo NATO at Sixty: Unhappy Returns 27 Mar 2009
This is a lousy time to be hitting sixty; and the candles on the birthday cake are as likely to be lit in response to a power cut as a celebration. Getting older is no more fun for an alliance than for its individual leaders. NATO saw in its fortieth birthday on the verge of triumphant success in the Cold War; its fiftieth as itwent into its first shooting war with a minor European country; and its sixtieth at the centre of a second shootingwar in a minor Asian country that may turn out to be its last. In the midst of global chaos caused by the collapse of traditional international structures and the major power shifts that the economic crisis is already causing, can NATO honestly look forward to a seventieth birthday in anything other than failing health?

Michael Clarke RUSI Director joins UK's National Security Forum 9 Mar 2009
RUSI Director Professor Michael Clarke is announced as a member of the National Security Forum offering independent expert security advice to the Government.

Afghanistan Civil Military More Effort Needed to Win Hearts and Minds - Afghanistan Opinion Poll 2009 9 Feb 2009
Working with the BBC, RUSI analyses the latest opinion poll charting Afghan attitudes. The results reveal a number of positive trends but also growing scepticism about the foreign intervention.

British troops in Afghanistan ‘A Hard Pounding, Gentlemen’: The Coming Year in Afghanistan 11 Jan 2009
The UK needs more troops on the ground to relieve pressure in Helmand, but unless an increase is accompanied by significant victories elsewhere, the Coalition’s long-term prospects are not good. A new approach to strategic thinking in Afghanistan and the means to give some effect to it are sorely needed in the new year.

Michael Clarke on Westminster Hour 10 Nov 2008
RUSI Director Michael Clarke, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour, suggests that Gordon Brown has the chance to bring European powers together as they readjust to the forthcoming Obama administration.

Obama and Sarkozy A Sigh of Relief from the Allies: But Questions for the Future Will Be a Lot Harder As a Result 5 Nov 2008
As leaders celebrate an Obama victory across European capitals, they should also be prepared to deal with a hard-faced man under pressure who will feel he has the right to expect much more from European partners.

Michael Clarke lecture Strategy and Fortune: British Security Policy in Transition 17 Oct 2007
This is an extended version of Professor Michael Clarke's inagural lecture to the Institute delivered on 25 September 2007.

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