James Kurth is the Claude Smith Professor of Political Science at Swarthmore College, where he teaches defense policy, foreign policy, and international politics. In 2004 Kurth also became the editor of Orbis, a professional journal on international relations and U.S. foreign policy published by the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Kurth received his B.A. in history from Stanford University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from Harvard University, where he was mentored by Samuel P. Huntington. Kurth taught at Harvard from 1967 to 1973 and has taught at Swarthmore since 1973. He has been a visiting member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey; visiting professor of political science at the University of California at San Diego; and visiting professor of strategy at the U.S. Naval War College. At the war college, Kurth was chairman of the Strategy and Campaign Department, an advisor to the Chief of Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group, and the recipient of the Department of the Navy Medal for Meritorious Civilian Service. Kurth is a decorated veteran, having served in the Navy in the 1960s on the U.S.S. Saint Paul, the flagship of the Seventh Fleet where he was a deck and gunnery officer.
He is the author of nearly a hundred articles and the editor of two books. Kurth frequently publishes in The National Interest, The American Interest, National Review, The American Conservative, Orbis, Foreign Policy and Current History. He has given testimony before committees of the United States Congress on four occasions. His best-known article is “The Real Clash,” published in 1994 in The National Interest, which asserts that the primary threat to the U.S. is not a clash with other civilizations, but an ideological and cultural clash within American society "between the multiculturalists and the defenders of Western civilization and the American Creed."
Kurth is an evangelical Protestant as well as a traditional social and political conservative; he is an elder at Proclamation Presbyterian Church in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. He objected to Operation Iraqi Freedom and the broader U.S. push to promote liberal democracy in the Middle East; instead, in "Splitting Islam," Kurth recommends that the U.S. utilize the division between Sunni and Shi'ites to distract radical Islamists from attacking America and the West.
Kurth is a Swarthmore enthusiast. One of few conservative faculty members at Swarthmore, he is known for his provocative courses and formerly, he was also known for the popular opening day lecture of his international politics course.
- Pillars of the Next American Century, published in November-December 2009 issue of The American Interest.
- "The Real Clash," National Interest, Fall 1994
- Interview in Swarthmore Bulletin
- Various articles By James Kurth
- Intercollegiate Studies Institute, "Conflicts in Liberalism and Security Issues"
- FPRI articles
- "Splitting Islam," The American Conservative, September 2005
- FPRI Appoints Kurth Editor of Orbis
- Video: What are We Fightin’ For? Western Civilization in the 21st Century 10/27/2008
- Video: The American Way of War: A History of Strategic Transformations 2/3/2005