Tom Nichols (academic)

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Tom Nichols
Born (1960-12-07) December 7, 1960 (age 61)
TitleProfessor of National Security Affairs (retired)[1]
Academic background
Alma materBoston University (BA)
Columbia University (MA)
Georgetown University (PhD)
Academic work

Thomas M. Nichols (born December 7, 1960) is an American writer, academic specialist on international affairs, and retired professor at the U.S. Naval War College. His work deals with issues involving Russia, nuclear weapons, and national security affairs.

Early life and education[edit]

Thomas M. Nichols grew up in Chicopee, Massachusetts, where he attended public schools in the 1960s and 1970s.[2] He stated in a speech at The Heritage Foundation that he did not come from an educated family, noting that his parents were "both Depression era kids who dropped out of high school".[3]

Nichols was awarded a BA degree in political science from Boston University in 1983, an MA degree in political science from Columbia University in 1984,[4] a certificate from the Harriman Institute of Columbia University in 1985,[4] and a PhD in government from Georgetown University in 1988.[5][4]

Nichols is an undefeated five-time Jeopardy! champion[5] and was, at one time, one of the game's all-time top players.[6]


Following completion of his doctorate at Georgetown University, in 1989 Nichols received a faculty appointment at Dartmouth College. He remained there until 1997.[7]

In 1997, Nichols became professor of strategy at the U.S. Naval War College, a position he retained until 2008.[8] Subsequently, Nichols was named professor of national security affairs at the war college. He retired in 2022.[9] He also is a senior associate of the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs New York City.[10]

Concurrent during his tenure at Dartmouth, Nichols served as legislative aide (personal staff for defense and foreign affairs) to U.S. Senator John Heinz.[11]

In 2005, Nichols was appointed to visiting and adjunct faculty roles at La Salle University and Harvard University, respectively.[12]

In 2008, Nichols was named a fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.[13]

In 2014, Nichols published a book entitled, No Use: Nuclear Weapons and US National Security.[13] The book is an analysis of American nuclear weapons policies possible reforms to the United States nuclear strategy.[4]

In 2021, Nichols published a book entitled, Our Own Worst Enemy: The Assault from Within on Modern Democracy.

He is a contributing writer at The Atlantic and authors its newsletter, entitled Peacefield.[14]



Nichols describes himself as a Never Trump conservative.[15] During the 2016 presidential campaign, Nichols argued that conservatives should vote for Hillary Clinton, whom he detested, because Trump was "too mentally unstable" to serve as commander-in-chief.[16]

Nichols continued that type of argument for the 2018 midterm elections and advocated that Republicans could save the party by electing as many Democrats as possible in that election.[17]

Following the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States, Nichols announced on October 7, 2018, that he would leave the Republican Party to become an independent. He claimed that Senator Susan Collins's "yes" vote on the confirmation convinced him that the Republican Party exists to exercise raw political power.[18] He stated that the Republicans have become a threat to the rule of law and to constitutional norms. Nichols also criticized the Democratic Party for being "torn between totalitarian instincts on one side and complete political malpractice on the other". He said that with the exception of Senators Chris Coons, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Amy Klobuchar, the Democratic party's behavior during the Kavanaugh hearings was “detestable”.[18]

In an opinion column published in 2019, Nichols cited the Mueller Report to argue that Trump failed in his role as a citizen and then as commander-in-chief, by not doing more to prevent and punish the Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.[19]

In April 2022, Nichols was quoted regarding the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, stating: "If Putin's goal was to cement his grip on power by making Russia hated for decades to come, well, congratulations, I guess."[20]



  • The Sacred Cause: Civil-Military Conflict over Soviet National Security, 1917-1992 (1993, Cornell University Press) ISBN 0801427746
  • The Russian Presidency: Society and Politics in the Second Russian Republic (1999, Palgrave Macmillan) ISBN 0312293372
  • Winning the World: Lessons for America's Future from the Cold War (2002, Praeger) ISBN 0275966631
  • Eve of Destruction: The Coming Age of Preventive War (2008, University of Pennsylvania Press) ISBN 0812240669
  • Tactical Nuclear Weapons and NATO, (co-editor) (2012, Military Bookshop) ISBN 1584875259
  • No Use: Nuclear Weapons and U.S. National Security (2013, University of Pennsylvania Press) ISBN 0812245660
  • The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters (2017, Oxford University Press) ISBN 0190469412, a study of why people mistrust established knowledge and how this damages democratic stability.
  • Our Own Worst Enemy: The Assault From Within on Modern Democracy (2021, Oxford University Press) ISBN 0197518877

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About Tom,". Retrieved October 8, 2018.
  2. ^ @RadioFreeTom (April 7, 2019). "I went to public schools in Chicopee, Massachusetts in the 60s and 70s. We had homework. It was part of a relativel…" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  3. ^ Nichols 2017, 6:21-6:31.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Harvard University.
  5. ^ a b Washington Post Education Forum.
  6. ^ J! Archive.
  7. ^ Tom Nichols. "Tom Nichols CV" (PDF).
  8. ^ Nichols, Thomas. Thomas M. Nichols CV (PDF),%20Thomas%20M/Tom%20Nichols%20CV%202021.pdf?sr=b&si=DNNFileManagerPolicy&sig=9BNlq6bSOvn9K8C6GAofUJKtr4x2X9tsucUSui86yDI%3D. Retrieved February 24, 2022. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^ Nichols, Thomas. Thomas M. Nichols CV (PDF),%20Thomas%20M/Tom%20Nichols%20CV%202021.pdf?sr=b&si=DNNFileManagerPolicy&sig=9BNlq6bSOvn9K8C6GAofUJKtr4x2X9tsucUSui86yDI%3D. Retrieved February 24, 2022. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ Nichols 2017.
  11. ^ Nichols, Thomas. Thomas M. Nichols CV (PDF),%20Thomas%20M/Tom%20Nichols%20CV%202021.pdf?sr=b&si=DNNFileManagerPolicy&sig=9BNlq6bSOvn9K8C6GAofUJKtr4x2X9tsucUSui86yDI%3D. Retrieved February 24, 2022. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ Nichols, Thomas. Thomas M. Nichols CV (PDF),%20Thomas%20M/Tom%20Nichols%20CV%202021.pdf?sr=b&si=DNNFileManagerPolicy&sig=9BNlq6bSOvn9K8C6GAofUJKtr4x2X9tsucUSui86yDI%3D. Retrieved February 24, 2022. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  13. ^ a b U.S. Naval War College.
  14. ^ Nichols, Tom (March 3, 2022). "Stay Calm, America". The Atlantic. Retrieved March 5, 2022.
  15. ^ "Never-Trump Confidential". New York Times. July 18, 1016.
  16. ^ Kennedy, Dan (February 6, 2017). "Some calming thoughts on Trump coverage from a #NeverTrump conservative". Media Nation. Retrieved February 6, 2017.
  17. ^ Tom Nichols (September 4, 2018). "Want to save the GOP, Republicans? Vote for every Democrat on this year's ballot". Retrieved September 4, 2018.
  18. ^ a b Nichols, Tom (October 7, 2018). "Why I'm Leaving the Republican Party". The Atlantic. Retrieved October 7, 2018.
  19. ^ Nichols, Tom. "Mueller report: Donald Trump failed us as commander in chief". Retrieved May 24, 2019.
  20. ^ Richardson, Heather Cox, Letters from an American, Substack, April 2, 2022


External links[edit]