Alexander Bick is a Research Scholar at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He served in the Obama administration as Director for Syria at the National Security Council and on the Policy Planning Staff at the State Department under Secretaries Clinton and Kerry. Previously, he worked for The Carter Center, where he helped to organize peace initiatives in Sierra Leone, Sudan, and Venezuela and directed international election observation missions in Liberia and Libya. A trained historian, Dr. Bick has also written on European mercantilism and colonial politics, based on archival research supported by fellowships from Fulbright, the Scaliger Institute, and the Folger Shakespeare Library. He holds a BA in political science from the University of Chicago, an MSc in economic history and Diploma in economics from the London School of Economics, and a PhD in history from Princeton University.

Project Summary

Russia’s military intervention in September 2015 fundamentally reshaped Syria’s civil war, consolidating President Bashar al-Asad’s rule, enhancing Moscow’s influence across the Middle East, and placing U.S. and Russian combat forces in the same theater for the first time since the Second World War. In contrast to the prevailing public discourse on Syria, framed largely by the 1990s debate over humanitarian intervention, the project explores the war in Syria as a case study in the return of great power competition between the United States and Russia. Drawing on the author’s experience in the Obama administration, as well as interviews and memoires, the project aims to draw lessons that can help policymakers anticipate and address the challenges presented by Russia’s increasingly assertive role in international affairs.

Major Publications

“Could U.S. Withdrawal from Syria Lead to War Between Russia and Turkey?” Just Security, December 26, 2018

“Syria Is Sliding Towards Partition,” War on the Rocks, November 2, 2017

“Trump’s National Security Strategy: A New Brand of Mercantilism,” with Salman Ahmed, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, August 17, 2017.