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Steven R. David

Steven R. David (born 1951) is Professor of International Relations at Johns Hopkins University.[2] He specializes in international politics and security issues.[2][3]

Steven R. David
Born 1951
Education B.A. from Union College (1972); M.A.s from Stanford University (1975) and Harvard University (1977); Ph.D. from Harvard University (1980)
Employer Johns Hopkins University
Known for Expert in international relations, security studies, and the developing world
Notable work Catastrophic consequences: civil wars and American interests (2008)
Title Professor of International Relations[1]


Education and positionsEdit

David earned his B.A. in political science from Union College in 1972. In 1975, he completed his M.A. in East Asian studies from Stanford University, and in 1977 received an M.A. from Harvard University in political science. In 1980, David earned his Ph.D. in political science from Harvard University.[4][5] He was a post-doctoral fellow in Harvard's National Security Program for the following year.[4]

In 1981, David came to Johns Hopkins University as an Assistant Professor of political science. In 1987 he became as Associate Professor, and became a full professor in 1991.[4] From 1983–2007, David was director of the International Studies Program at JHU; he held the Chair of JHU's Political Science Department. From 1998–2003, Steven David was Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, and from 2003–04 he served as Special Assistant to the Dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.[4]

In 2005, David became the Vice Dean for Centers and Programs at JHU, providing oversight for ten centers and programs,[5] and in 2007 he became the director of Jewish Studies at JHU. David served in that role until 2010,[4] when he was named Vice Dean for Undergraduate Education at JHU.[3]

Areas of expertiseEdit

David's areas of expertise include: International Relations with emphasis on theories of alignment, defining American interests, and third world politics; International Security with emphasis on third world security issues and low intensity conflict; Comparative Government with emphasis on the Middle East and the People’s Republic of China; and American Government with emphasis on foreign policy.[4] Regarding targeted killing, David said: "For a region going through a horrendous time, targeted killing is the worst possible policy–except for all the others."[6]

Teaching philosophyEdit

David is regarded as an effective, enthusiastic Professor. In 1989, David became the first member of the Johns Hopkins faculty to receive the George E. Owen teaching award twice. He won the award for a third time in 1998. In an interview with a University newspaper following his receipt of the award, David said, "I like the students...Someone once asked me, 'Do you want to spend your life with 18- to 22-year-olds?' and I kinda do. They're enthusiastic, they're fun and they're open-minded. I like that."[7]



Catastrophic Consequences: Civil Wars and American Interests

"In the post-Cold War world, war between states has been extraordinarily rare, but civil war and armed conflict within states has been widespread. Indeed, in the last two decades, fully one-third of all countries have endured some form of civil conflict. In this sobering study, David argues that domestic upheaval and state collapse are replacing rising states and great-power rivalry as the chief threats to U.S. interests and global security. In one sense, this book offers an eloquent statement of a widely shared view—namely, that in the age of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, it is the weakness of states, rather than their strength, that is most threatening. What is distinctive about David's book is its focus on four critical states—China, Mexico, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia—in which civil war or political upheaval could "unleash catastrophic harms that transform global politics and endanger vital American interests." In each case, David sketches a portrait of regime breakdown and ensuing chaos. Blazing oil fields, loose nuclear weapons, refugee floods, and great-power collapse are catastrophes that could upend global stability and bring peddlers of violence to the United States' doorstep. Provocatively, David argues that spreading democracy or intervening to build better states are not good options. Rather, civil war must be seen as a problem akin to natural disasters: you assume disasters will occur and prepare for the worst. "[8]

-Professor G. John Ikenberry, Princeton University

Foreign Affairs, May/June 2009

Choosing Sides: Alignment and Realignment in the Third World

"A book that seeks to explain why third world leaders change alignment between the USA and the USSR may well seem redundant in the post-Cold War world. In fact, this welcome and stimulating study remains highly relevant to the analysis of third world foreign policies. David's central argument is that alliance decisions must be considered in relation, not merely to a classical 'balance of power' theory concerned only with national security, but rather to the overall balance of political forces with which the leader has to contend, including domestic threats which are often more important than external ones. Given this perspective, which he awkwardly entitles 'omnibalancing', David concludes that changes in alliance can generally be explained as a rational response to the ruler's personal security needs. Though much of the argument is slanted to appeal to US policymakers operating in a bipolar framework, this theme remains as relevant as ever, and could equally be applied to third world states' reactions to IMF structural adjustment policies or demands for democratization. The case studies, taken from northeast Africa in the 1970s, are also convincingly handled."

-Professor Christopher Clapham, Professor of Politics and International Relations, Lancaster University

Political Studies, June 1994

  • David, Steven (1991). Choosing Sides: Alignment and Realignment in the Third World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-4122-4. 

Third World Coups d'État and International Security

"Coups provide a cheap and inviting means to promote external interests in Third World states, where foreign policy-making is generally the preserve of a small governing elite which is sometimes easy to topple. So cheap they are, indeed, that this means is available not only to the major powers but even to a tiny state like Libya, which would be quite unable to exercise similar influence through conventional military methods. Since all this is obvious enough, and external involvement in coups is frequently alleged, it is surprising that no one has apparently thought to look in any systematic way at the international factor in Third World coups. This is a gap which Steven David has now filled.

One of the problems, of course, is data. David wisely confines himself to cases where there is reasonably firm public evidence of external involvement. On this basis, out of a total of 183 successful and 174 attempted coups between 1945 and 1985 he identifies a significant foreign role in backing twenty-four and suppressing fourteen – a total of just over 10 per cent. This is a minimum figure, but the overwhelming majority of coups are evidently internal affairs – though even so they may have significant foreign policy implications. The ‘external’ coups nonetheless include some important cases, such as the Anglo-American-orchestrated overthrow of Mossadeq in Iran in 1953 or the US involvement in the Brazilian coup of 1964. One finding that may well be due to the availability of data is that nine coups have been backed by the United States, Britain, and France and only two by the Soviet Union, the remaining thirteen cases involving mercenaries, or other Third World states. Surprisingly, the most recent coup for which David can find good evidence of US involvement is Cambodia in 1970, and he shows convincingly (by a comparison of Iran in 1953 and 1979, and of Guatemala in 1954 with Sandinista Nicaragua) that US capacity to promote coups has significantly declined. Nor has the United States been notably successful in protecting its allies against coups, though it has been better at deterring right-wing than left-wing ones. The Soviet Union has only been able to foment coups in states where it already has a strong presence, but has been extremely effecting in protecting its allies, at any rate against anti-Soviet coups. No Third World state with a Soviet-style vanguard party has yet been overthrown by a right-wing coup, though states with regimes which already lean towards the Soviet Union of Marxism–Leninism may be subject to coup attempts intended to put a move reliably pro-Soviet regime in power.

Workmanlike rather than outstanding, this study also exemplifies the most exclusive concern of American academics with subjects of interest to US policy-makers. Three of the six chapters are explicitly about the American role, one is about the Soviet Union, and even the other two are couched on the whole in East-West terms. The role of the Third World states in destabilizing their neighbours is largely neglected. But within these limits the book is fair and well presented, and a useful contribution to the literature."

-Professor Christopher Clapham, Professor of Politics and International Relations, Lancaster University

International Affairs, 1987

  • David, Steven (1987). Third World Coups d’Etat and International Security. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-3307-8. 

Articles and monographsEdit

  • David, Steven (2008). "Existential Threats to Israel". In Freedman, Robert. Contemporary Israel: Domestic Politics, Foreign Policy and Security Challenges. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. pp. 299–316. ISBN 978-0-8133-4385-3. 
  • David, Steven (2007). "On Civil War". The American Interest. II (2): 299–316. 
  • David, Steven (October 2006). "American Foreign Policy in the Middle East: A Necessary Change?". Israel Affairs. 12 (4): 614–41. doi:10.1080/13537120600889886. 
  • David, Steven (2003). "If Not Combatants, Certainly Not Civilians". Ethics and International Affairs. 17 (1): 138–40. doi:10.1111/j.1747-7093.2003.tb00424.x. 
  • David, Steven (2003). "Debate: Israel's Policy of Targeted Killing". Ethics and International Affairs. 17 (1): 111–26. doi:10.1111/j.1747-7093.2003.tb00422.x. 
  • David, Steven (Spring 2003). "Fatal Choices: Israel's Policy of Targeted Killing". The Review of International Affairs. 2 (3): 135–58. 
    • Reprinted in:
    • David, Steven (2003). "Fatal Choices: Israel's Policy of Targeted Killing". In Inbar, Efraim. Democracies and Small Wars. Portland, OR: Frank Cass. pp. 138–58. ISBN 978-0-7146-8423-9. 
    • David, Steven (2007). "Fatal Choices: Israel's Policy of Targeted Killing". In Miller, Rory. Ireland and the Middle East. Dublin: Irish Academic Press. pp. 113–25. ISBN 978-0-7165-2867-8. 
  • David, Steven (September 2002). "Fatal Choices: Israel's Policy of Targeted Killing" (PDF). Mideast Security and Policy Studies. The Begin Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (51). doi:10.4324/9780203485422.ch9. 
  • David, Steven (1998). "The Primacy of Internal War". In Neuman, Stephanie. International Relations Theory and the Third World. New York: St. Martin’s Press. pp. 77–102. ISBN 0-312-17299-0. 
  • David, Steven (July 1997). "Internal War: Causes and Cures". World Politics. 49 (4): 552–76. doi:10.1017/s0043887100008054. JSTOR 25054019. 
  • David, Steven (Spring–Summer 1996). "The Continuing Importance of American Interests in the Middle East After the Cold War". Israel Affairs. 2 (3 & 4): 94–106. doi:10.1080/13537129608719395. 
  • David, Steven (1995). "The Necessity for American Military Intervention in the Post-Cold War World". The United States and the Use of Force in the Post-Cold War Era. Queenstown, MD: The Aspen Institute. pp. 29–70. ISBN 0-89843-163-8. 
  • David, Steven (1995). "Risky Business: Let Us Not Take a Chance on Proliferation". Security Studies. 4 (4): 773–78. doi:10.1080/09636419509347603. 
  • David, Steven (Winter 1992–1993). "Why the Third World Still Matters". International Security. 17 (3): 127–59. doi:10.2307/2539132. JSTOR 2539132. 
    • Selected for republication in:
    • David, Steven (1992). "Why the Third World Still Matters". In Sean M. Lynn-Jones; Steven E. Miller. America's Strategy in a Changing World. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. pp. 328–60. ISBN 978-0-262-62085-7. 
  • David, Steven (Jan 1991). "Explaining Third World Alignment". World Politics. 43 (2): 233–56. doi:10.2307/2010472. JSTOR 2010472. 
  • David, Steven (Winter 1991). "The Bosom of Abraham: America's Enduring Affection for Israel". Policy Review (55): 57–59. 
  • David, Steven; Peter Digeser (1990). The United States and the Law of the Sea Treaty. Washington, D.C.: Foreign Policy Institute, SAIS, Johns Hopkins University. ISBN 0-941700-54-2. 
  • David, Steven (1989). "Why the Third World Matters". International Security. 14 (1): 50–85. doi:10.2307/2538765. JSTOR 2538765. 
    • Selected for republication in:
    • David, Steven (1989). "Why the Third World Matters". In Steven E. Miller; Sean M. Lynn-Jones. Conventional Forces and American Defense Policy. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-63122-8. 
    • Updated version in:
    • David, Steven (1991). "Why the Third World Matters". In Michael Nacht; George Quester; John Weltman. Challenges to American National Security in the 1990s. New York: Plenum Press. ISBN 0-306-43858-5. 
  • David, Steven (Summer 1988). "Africa: Moscow's Dubious Investment". The National Interest: 131–38. 
  • David, Steven (Summer 1986). "Soviet Involvement in Third World Coups". International Security. 11 (1): 131–38. doi:10.2307/2538874. JSTOR 2538874. 
    • Updated version selected for publication in:
    • David, Steven (1990). "Soviet Involvement in Third World Coups". In Coli, Alberto. Secret Warfare and International Order. Washington D.C.: The United States Institute of Peace. 
  • David, Steven (1986). "The Use of Proxies by Superpowers in Wars of the Third World". In Robert Harkavy; Stephanie Neuman. The Lessons of Recent Wars in the Third World. 2. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books. pp. 199–226. ISBN 0-669-09852-3. 
  • David, Steven (1985). Defending Third World Regimes from Coups d'Etat. Cambridge, MA: Center for International Affairs, Harvard University/University Press of America. ISBN 0-8191-4643-9. 
  • David, Steven (May–June 1984). "Third World Interventions". Problems of Communism. 33 (3): 65–71. 
  • David, Steven (Autumn 1982). "Coup and Anti-Coup". The Washington Quarterly. 5: 189–201. doi:10.1080/01636608209450778. 
  • David, Steven (1982). "The Superpower Competition for Influence in the Third World". In Samuel P. Huntington. The Strategic Imperative. Cambridge, MA: Ballinger. pp. 229–52. ISBN 978-0-88410-895-5. 
  • David, Steven (November 1980). "Wielding Alignments: Adjusting to the Reality of the Third World". American Spectator: 18–22. 
  • David, Steven (Autumn 1979). "Realignment in the Horn: The Soviet Advantage". International Security. 4 (2): 69–90. doi:10.2307/2626744. JSTOR 2626744. 

David, Steven. “Explaining Third World Alignment.” World Politics 43, no. 2 (1991).


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b "Steven R. David". January 2, 2007. Retrieved May 21, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b Steven David named vice dean for undergraduate education | Johns Hopkins University – The Gazette
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Curriculum Vitae" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on June 5, 2010. Retrieved May 21, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b "Steven R. David". Retrieved May 21, 2010. 
  6. ^ Steven R. David (March 8, 2010). "'Targeted Killing' is Needed Now". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Retrieved May 20, 2010. 
  7. ^ The Johns Hopkins Gazette: May 18, 1998
  8. ^ Catastrophic Consequences: Civil Wars and American Interests | Foreign Affairs

External linksEdit