Dr. Nora Bensahel

Distinguished Scholar in Residence, School of International Service at American University

Dr. Nora Bensahel is a Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the School of International Service at American University, and a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council. She also co-authors the Strategic Outpost column that appears at War on the Rocks every two weeks.  She was most recently senior fellow and co-director of the Responsible Defense Program at the Center for a New American Security, where she previously served as deputy director of studies.

Dr. Bensahel is a widely published expert on U.S. defense policy, U.S. military operations and force structure, coalition and alliance operations, and leader development. Her recent publications include Hard Choices: Responsible Defense in an Age of Austerity, Battlefields and Boardrooms: Women’s Leadership in the Military and the Private Sector, The Seven Deadly Sins of Defense Spending, Building Better Generals, and "Charting the Course: Directions for the New NATO Secretary General."

Prior to CNAS, Dr. Bensahel served as a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation, where she authored numerous reports including After Saddam: Prewar Planning and the Occupation of Iraq, and "The Experiences of Foreign Militaries," in Sexual Orientation and U.S. Military Personnel Policy. Dr. Bensahel has also written several book chapters and has published articles in Survival, Journal of Strategic Studies, Joint Force Quarterly, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Defence Studies, and European Security

Dr. Bensahel spent more than a decade as an adjunct professor in the Security Studies Program at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, where she taught M.A.-level classes and received the Alumni Leadership Council Teaching Award. Dr. Bensahel is also a frequent commentator in well-known media publications and programs, and has testified before Congress. 

Dr. Bensahel received her Ph.D. and M.A. degrees from the Department of Political Science at Stanford University and her B.A., magna cum laude, from Cornell University (where she serves as a member of the President’s Council on Cornell Women). While at Stanford, she worked as a research assistant for former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry. She held fellowships at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University and the John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University.