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ali wyne rand foreign policy analyst

Coffee with Ali Wyne

As a kid, RAND analyst Ali Wyne hated to read.

Words: Laicie Heeley
Pictures: Holson House

Everyone has that friend on social media — the one who shares the best stuff. A photo essay that makes you think or an article on productivity that’s actually worth your time. For me, Ali Wyne is that friend.

But Ali has enriched my feed, and my life, in so many other ways. He’s the first to shout out a friend’s good work — or even just their birthday — and, when it’s needed, he’s the first to reach out and offer support.

He’s also a voracious reader. Which is why it’s funny that, as a kid, he says he hated to read — you might have been able to force him to pick up a copy of Goosebumps, but not much else.

Ali’s life — and worldview — was impacted heavily by 9/11. As one of the only Muslim-American families in the rural Virginia town where he grew up, he remembers not only the shock of that day but the fear. For Ali, that was the day that everything changed.

Today, Ali is a policy analyst at the RAND Corporation, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, and a nonresident fellow at the Modern War Institute.  He also serves as rapporteur for a US National Intelligence Council working group that analyzes trends in world order.

His resume includes stints at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and a team that prepared Samantha Power for her confirmation hearing to be US Ambassador to the United Nations.

But for all of his accomplishments, Ali has his priorities straight — near the end of an hours-long coffee that easily could have stretched hours more, he told me sincerely, “More than anything else, I want to be able to look back on my life and at least be able to convince myself or believe that I was a loyal son, that I was a devoted brother, that I was a caring friend. For me, nothing else really matters.”

Click through the photos for more from our talk, below:

Laicie Heeley

Editor in Chief

Laicie Heeley is the founding CEO of Inkstick Media, where she serves as Editor in Chief of the foreign policy magazine Inkstick and Executive Producer and Host of the PRX- and Inkstick-produced podcast, Things That Go Boom. Heeley’s reporting has appeared on public radio stations across America and the BBC, where she’s explored global security issues including domestic terrorism, disinformation, nuclear weapons, and climate change. Prior to launching Inkstick, Heeley was a Fellow with the Stimson Center’s Budgeting for Foreign Affairs and Defense program and Policy Director at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. Her publications include work on sanctions, diplomacy, and nuclear arms control and nonproliferation, along with the first full accounting of US counterterrorism spending after 9/11.


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