- Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center Newsletter

Spotlight: Jacqueline Newmyer

Summer 2006

Jacqueline (Jackie) Newmyer is a fellow in the Belfer Center's International Security Program. Her research focus is Chinese security policy and American grand strategy.

Students in the "Strategies of Tyrants" class at Harvard College say that their instructor is the furthest thing from being a tyrant. Jacqueline (Jackie) Newmyer's class, cotaught with Professor Stephen P. Rosen, is one of the most popular in the department, and her research is central not only to the education of the next generation of policy leaders, but to the current generation as well. In addition to teaching, Newmyer is a postdoctoral research fellow in the International Security Program at the Belfer Center. Her dissertation-a comparison of seminal works on strategy and statecraft from ancient China, the medieval Middle East, and early modern Europe-reflects the dynamism she brings to emerging scholarship at the Center. Her recent testimony before the United States China Commission, in which she argued that the U.S. should better understand the role of intelligence in Chinese strategy, demonstrates that such scholarship is shaping the policies of today and tomorrow. Newmyer grew up in Washington, D.C., and became interested in the motivations of international actors and their behavior around war and peace when she was a student at Sidwell Friends School, a Quaker institution. Her passion for learning carried her to Harvard where she studied history and literature. "At Harvard, military history and political philosophy captivated me. And it was right after graduation that I realized that I should try to combine these interests in a way that would be useful to decision makers." China was of special interest to Newmyer. "I don't think enough U.S. policymakers have made a good faith effort to see the world the way Beijing sees it, yet history teaches us that only by understanding the philosophy and culture of others can we appreciate the policies they develop. Harvard is an ideal place to acquire the tools to empathize with a foreign civilization."

After earning her B.A. from Harvard College summa cum laude, Newmyer crossed the Atlantic for graduate school. At Oxford, she studied under the world-renowned military historian Hew Strachan and spent her summers in Washington, consulting for the Office of Net Assessment in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Before coming back to Cambridge to take up a post at the Olin Institute for Strategic Studies in September 2004, Newmyer lived in Washington, D.C., where she worked with the defense contractor SAIC and wrote her dissertation. Since moving back to Cambridge, in addition to being a fellow and lecturer at Harvard, she has worked as head of the China Research Program with the Long-Term Strategy Project, a non-profit think tank affiliated with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington.

In these capacities, Newmyer has continued research she began for her dissertation and has worked to help policymakers better understand China. "China is coming into its own and engaging with the world in a way we have not seen in our lifetime. We need to remind ourselves of all the questions we can't answer about China and, at the same time, not overstate the ability of U.S. leaders to influence China's trajectory."

Newmyer will continue her China research by further developing work she started in Beijing last August. She'll return to China this summer in an effort to understand Chinese management style and the influence on the economy of the combination of traditional Confucian and Communist practices on the one hand and modern western and "Asian-Tiger" techniques on the other. "In both business and politics, the Chinese place a large value on possessing superior information. The PRC (Peoples Republic of China) has to know, better than its allies and enemies, what the dominant trends are. How does the prevalence of spying affect corporate culture? How does it affect national security decision-making? The answers to these questions should inform our policy toward China, whether, as predicted, China's rise continues full speed ahead, or whether the PRC encounters some unexpected turbulence on the road to great-power status."

Outstanding defense thinkers from academia, like Steve Rosen and Hew Strachan, and from inside the Beltway, like Andy Marshall and Andrew Krepinevich, have served as role models to Newmyer in her still-young career. They have recognized the value of her innovative thinking and provided her numerous opportunities to put this groundbreaking research in front of policymakers. "The Belfer Center is a great place to pursue my research on China," Newmyer says.

"Because the Center serves as the hub of activity at the Kennedy School for actionable policy research, people like me who study international relations can talk to the people making decisions. The Belfer Center doesn't force you into a label of ‘policy advocate' or ‘academic,' but embraces the concept that the one needs the other."

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Spotlight: Jacqueline Newmyer.” Belfer Center Newsletter (Summer 2006).