Oriana Skylar Mastro is an Assistant Professor of Security Studies at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, where her research addresses critical questions at the intersection of interstate conflict, great power competition, and the challenges of rising powers, with a focus on China and East Asian security. This year, she is a Jeane Kirkpatrick Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) where she is working on a book about China's challenge to U.S. primacy. Mastro also continues to serve as an Officer in the United States Air Force Reserve, for which she works as a Senior China Analyst at the Pentagon. For her contributions to U.S. strategy in Asia, she won the Individual Reservist of the Year Award in 2016. She is the author of the forthcoming Cornell University Press book, The Costs of Conversation: Obstacles to Peace Talks in Wartime. She holds a B.A. in East Asian Studies from Stanford University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Politics from Princeton University. Her research and commentary can be found at her personal website or on twitter @osmastro.

Last Updated: December 13, 2018

Books

05.10.19

The Costs of Conversation

Oriana Skylar Mastro
Cornell University Press: After a war breaks out, what factors influence the warring parties’ decisions about whether to talk to their enemy, and when may their position on wartime diplomacy change? How do we get from only fighting to also talking?In The Costs of Conversation, Oriana Skylar Mastro argues that states are primarily concerned with the strategic costs of conversation, and these costs need to be low before combatants are willing to engage in direct talks with their enemy. Specifically, Mastro writes, leaders look to two factors when determining the probable strategic costs of demonstrating a willingness to talk: the likelihood the enemy will interpret openness to diplomacy as a sign of weakness, and how the enemy may change its strategy in response to such an interpretation. Only if a state thinks it has demonstrated adequate strength and resiliency to avoid the inference of weakness, and believes that its enemy has limited capacity to escalate or intensify the war, will it be open to talking with the enemy.Through four primary case studies—North Vietnamese diplomatic decisions during the Vietnam War, those of China in the Korean War and Sino-Indian War, and Indian diplomatic decision making in the latter conflict—The Costs of Conversation demonstrates that the costly conversations thesis best explains the timing and nature of countries’ approach to wartime talks, and therefore when peace talks begin. As a result, Mastro’s findings have significant theoretical and practical implications for war duration and termination, as well as for military strategy, diplomacy, and mediation.{chop}

Conversation

03.01.19

The Future of China-U.S. Military Relations

Joel Wuthnow, Oriana Skylar Mastro & more
The U.S.-China military relationship has been relatively stable over the past few years. Both sides’ leaders recognize that effective relations between the two militaries help prevent crises and stabilize the broader bilateral relationship. Events...

Conversation

12.11.18

Is this the Beginning of a New Cold War?

Ali Wyne, Yuen Yuen Ang & more
Beyond complicating trade negotiations between the United States and China, the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou has renewed concerns that the two countries are embarking on a new Cold War, based on economic preeminence and technological innovation...

Conversation

06.14.18

One Year After They Almost Went to War, Can China and India Get Along?

Joel Wuthnow, Selina Ho & more
One year ago, the Chinese and Indian armies faced off at Doklam, a disputed Himalayan area on the border between China, India, and the tiny kingdom of Bhutan. While the two sides didn’t go to war over the border as they did in 1962, tensions were...

Conversation

12.19.17

Trump’s National Security Strategy and China

Zha Daojiong, Pamela Kyle Crossley & more
On December 18, U.S. President Donald J. Trump announced the United States’ new national security strategy. He called China a “strategic competitor,” and, along with Russia, called it a “revisionist power.” Those two nations, Trump said, are...

Conversation

08.29.17

Is the United States Still the Predominant Power in the Pacific?

Dennis J. Blasko, James Holmes & more
In late August, a U.S. destroyer collided with an oil tanker—the fourth such accident for the U.S. Navy in Asia since January. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has increased troop commitments in Afghanistan, threatened to strike North Korea with “...