James Lee

Max Weber Postdoctoral Fellow, European University Institute

Ph.D., Princeton University


I am a scholar of American grand strategy with research interests at the intersection of political science and diplomatic history. I have a regional specialization in East Asia with a focus on U.S.-Taiwan relations and the United States’ One-China policy. I received my Ph.D. in Politics from Princeton University in 2018, and I am currently a Max Weber Postdoctoral Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. I also serve as the Senior Editor for Taiwan Security Research, an academic website that aggregates news, commentary, and scholarly analysis on the economic and political dimensions of Taiwan’s security.

My dissertation examines the role of foreign aid in American grand strategy during the Cold War and the role of U.S. foreign policy in the creation of the developmental state in East Asia. I am currently working on turning my dissertation into a book manuscript that will examine the strategic determinants of the United States’ approach to the postwar reconstruction of Europe and East Asia.

I have published an article in the Journal of Chinese Political Science that evaluates Graham Allison’s concept of “Thucydides’ Trap” and its application to U.S.-China relations. Drawing on the Greek text of Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, I argue that the association of Thucydides with structural explanations for war is an artifact of translation and does not find support in the historical evidence. Structural change is leading to instability in U.S.-China relations, but not for reasons that are analogous to the ancient rivalry between Athens and Sparta; instead, the most likely source of instability is how the rise of China has affected the delicate security balance in the Strait of Taiwan.