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Josef Korbel School of International StudiesSié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security & Diplomacy



Julia Macdonald


Dr. Julia Macdonald is an Assistant Professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver, where her research focuses on state threat assessments, use of force decisions, and U.S. military strategy and effectiveness. Her recent work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Security Studies, the Journal of Conflict Resolution, Journal of Strategic Studies, Foreign Policy Analysis, Armed Forces and Society, and online at a range of policy outlets. She has held fellowships at the University of Pennsylvania's Perry World House, Harvard's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and she was a Stanton Nuclear Security fellow in the Security Studies Program at MIT. Previously, she worked for the New Zealand Ministry of Defense and the RAND Corporation in Washington D.C. She holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the George Washington University, an M.A. (Hons) in International Relations from the University of Chicago, and a B.A. (Hons) from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand.

Highlighted Works


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"South Korea 1949-53: Exogenous Realignment of Preferences" in Eli Berman and David Lake (eds) Proxy Wars: Suppressing Violence Through Local Agents

"How to Think About Nuclear Crises" with Mark S. Bell, in Texas National Security Review
"Battlefield Responses to New Technologies: A View from the Ground on Unmanned Aircraft" with Jacquelyn Schneider, in Security Studies
"Small Footprint, Small Payoff: The Military Effectiveness of Security Force Assistance" with Stephen Biddle and Ryan Baker, in Journal of Strategic Studies


Books and Book Projects

Credibility in Crisis: The Role of Leadership Beliefs in State Threat Assessments (book manuscript in process)

The Rise of Unmanned Technologies: Explaining the American Desire for Drones (book manuscript in progress, with Jacquelyn Schneider). Under contract at Oxford University Press.

Journal Articles

"Battlefield Responses to New Technologies: A View from the Ground on Unmanned Aircraft" (with Jacquelyn Schneider). Security Studies (2018).

"Small Footprint, Small Payoff: The Military Effectiveness of Security Force Assistance," with Stephen Biddle and Ryan Baker, Journal of Strategic Studies (2017).

"Presidential Risk Orientation and Force Employment Decisions: The Case of Unmanned Weaponry," with Jacquelyn Schneider, Journal of Conflict Resolution 61:3 (2017).

"Innovation Inhibitors in War: Obstacles in the Pursuit of Military Effectiveness," with Adam Jungdahl, Journal of Strategic Studies 38: 4 (2015). 

"Eisenhower's Scientists: Policy Entrepreneurs and the Test-Ban Debate 1954-58," Foreign Policy Analysis 11:1 (2015). 

"Explaining the Variation in Gender Composition of Personnel Contributions to UN Peacekeeping Operations," with Kerry Crawford and James Lebovic, Armed Forces and Society 41:2 (2015). 

"Establishing a Marketplace of Women in Peacekeeping: An Analysis of Gender Mainstreaming and its Viability in United Nations Peacekeeping Operations," with Kerry Crawford, Air and Space Power Journal 4:1 (2013). 

Book Chapters

"Exogenous Realignment of Preferences: South Korea 1949-53" in Eli Berman and David Lake (eds) Proxy Wars: Suppressing Transnational Violence Through Local Agents. Cornell University Press, 2018. 

"North Korea," in Karl DeRouen and Paul Bellamy, eds. International Security and the United States (Connecticut: Praeger Security International, 2007). 

Policy Publications

"U.S. Public Support for Drone Strikes" (with Jacquelyn Schneider), Center for a New American Security (2016). 

" Liberal Disorder and Decay: Deepening Strategic Trust between Japan, the United States, and Europe " The German Marshall Fund (2016). 

"Next Generation Perspectives on the Future of Asian Security: Australia and New Zealand" The German Marshall Fund (2015). 

" An Anglo-French 'Pivot': The Future Drivers of Europe-Asia Cooperation " (with Anna di Mattia), The German Marshall Fund (2014). 


"The Most Surprising Thing About the Venezuela Drone Attack is that it Hasn't Happened Sooner." Political Violence at a Glance (2018)

"Toward Deterrence: The Upside of the Trump-Kim Summit" (with Mark S. Bell), War on the Rocks, (2018)

"Trust, Confidence, and the Future of Warfare" (with Jacquelyn Schneider), War on the Rocks, (2018)

"Why Troops Don't Trust Drones: The 'Warm Fuzzy' Problem" (with Jacquelyn Schneider), Foreign Affairs (2017).

"Will Killer Robots Be Banned? Lessons from Past Civil Society Campaigns" (with Michael Horowitz), Lawfare (2017).
"When Shows of Strength are Risky: The Case for Restraint on North Korea" Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (2017).
"How Will Trump Wage War? What Early Signs of a Risk-Acceptant President Mean for US Military Operations" (with Jacquelyn Schneider), Political Violence at a Glance (2017).
"The Trump Administration Wants to Send More Military Advisors to Afghanistan. Good Luck with That," with Stephen Biddle and Ryan Baker, The Washington Post's The Monkey Cage (2017).

"Why Americans Love Drones," with Jacquelyn Schneider, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (2016).

"Views from the Ground on the A-10 Debate," with Jacquelyn Schneider, War on the Rocks (2016).

"Five Costs of Military Innovation," with Lena Andrews, War on the Rocks (2016). 

"Trump voters don't like women in military combat roles. That may have consequences for the use of force." (with Jacquelyn Schneider), The Washington Post's The Monkey Cage (2016).

"Sensible Sanctions: Using Financial Penalties the Right Way" with Eric Lorber, Foreign Affairs ( 2015).

"Halting the ISIS Advance: The Case for Manned versus Unmanned Aircraft" (with Jacquelyn Schneider), International Relations and Security Network (2014).