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Mershon Center for International Security Studies

Mershon Center for International Security Studies

Keren Yarhi-Milo

States are more likely to engage in military buildups and pre-emptive strikes if they think their adversaries pose a tangible threat. But how do they make that determination?

Keren Yarhi-Milo explores this question in Knowing The Adversary: Leaders, Intelligence Organizations, and Assessments of Intentions in International Relations (Princeton University Press, 2014), winner of the Edgar S. Furniss Book Award, given annually by the Mershon Center.

Yarhi-Milo will speak at the Mershon Center at noon on Monday, March 28, 2016, about her latest research on “Who Fights for Reputation in International Politics? Leaders, Resolve and the Use of Force.” Read more and register at go.osu.edu/yarhi-milo.

In her book, Yarhi-Milo examines three cases in which states must determine whether adversaries pose a threat: Britain's assessments of Nazi Germany's intentions in the 1930s, America's assessments of the Soviet Union's intentions during the Carter administration, and the Reagan administration's assessments of Soviet intentions near the end of the Cold War.

She advances a new theoretical framework -- called selective attention -- that emphasizes organizational dynamics, personal diplomatic interactions, and cognitive and affective factors.

Yarhi-Milo finds that decision makers tend to determine the intentions of adversaries on the basis of pre-existing beliefs, theories, and personal impressions, while intelligence organizations tend to focus on changes in military capabilities.

The Furniss Award commemorates the founding director of the Mershon Center, Edgar S. Furniss, and is given annually to an author whose first book makes an exceptional contribution to the study of national and international security. Previous winners include John Mearsheimer, Barry Posen, and Stephen Walt.

Keren Yarhi-Milo is assistant professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University’s Politics Department and Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs.

Her research and teaching focus on international relations and foreign policy, with a specialization in international security, including foreign policy decision-making, interstate communication and crisis bargaining, intelligence, and U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.

Yarhi-Milo’s articles have been published or are forthcoming in International Studies Quarterly, International Organization, International Security (forthcoming), and Security Studies (forthcoming).

Before joining the faculty at Princeton University, she was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and a predoctoral fellow at the Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University.

Yarhi-Milo has worked at the Mission of Israel to the United Nations, as well as served in the Israeli Defense Forces, Intelligence Branch. Her dissertation received the Kenneth Waltz Awards for the best dissertation in the field of International Security and Arms Control in 2010. She also has received awards for the study of political science from the Smith Richardson Foundation, Arthur Ross Foundation, and Abram Morris Foundation.

Yarhi-Milo holds a Ph.D. and master's degree from University of Pennsylvania, and a B.A., summa cum laude, in political science from Columbia University.