Ken Gause
Director, SPP Special Projects


Ken Gause is the director of Strategy, Policy, Plans, and Programs Division Special Projects, where he focuses on business development with combatant commands and the intelligence community. He is CNA's senior foreign leadership analyst and has spent the last 20 years developing methodologies for examining leadership dynamics of hard-target, authoritarian regimes. In particular, he is an internationally respected expert on North Korea who has written three books on North Korean leadership. His latest book is North Korean House of Cards: Leadership Dynamics Under Kim Jong-un.

Leadership and opposing force analysis are core areas of expertise within CNA's Adversary Analytics Program, which Mr. Gause created, and is now infused into the work that SPP does. His work on foreign leadership dates back to the early 1980s with his work on the Soviet Union for the US government. Over the last three decades, he has devised analytical techniques used to understand adversary decision-making. These techniques span a five-tier set of methodologies that range from biographical analysis to studies on how to affect and shape an authoritarian or totalitarian regime's actions. These studies include a range of approaches, from sophisticated game design to proprietary analysis based on a "virtual network" of researchers around the world dedicated to providing analysis on regimes of interest, their leadership, and how they make decisions.

Mr. Gause is also the head of CNA's Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon community of interest. He has a BA from Vanderbilt University in Russian and political science and an MA from The George Washington University in Soviet and East European affairs.


December 9, 2020

Ken Gause says, "As the United States and international community ratchet up the pressure through sanctions to get North Korea to de-nuclearize, all it does is force Kim Jong-Un to hold more tightly to the nuclear program and reduce the aperture for engagement and diplomacy."

National Interest: "How Kim Jong-un Sees a Biden Administration—and How Kim Will Respond"

July 19, 2020

Ken Gause says, "The North Korean view is that if Trump is re-elected to a second term, when he is emboldened by the election, that he would be willing to do a deal with North Korea."

The Japan Times: "Will North Korea's Kim Deliver an 'October Surprise' to Trump?"

June 16, 2020

Ken Gause says, "If we want to solve the issue of North Korea, you need to engage Pyongyang. That means the U.S. has to take the lead and make appropriate concessions to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table."

Radio Free Asia: "Destruction of Border Office Unlikely to Be Last Provocation by North Korea"

May 4, 2020

Ken Gause says, "We also know the North Koreans know we're looking at that stuff, so we're seeing what the North Koreans want us to see."

BuzzFeed News: "Kim Jong Un Came Back and Some People Are Sorry for Saying He Was Really Ill"

April 29, 2020

Ken Gause says, "Potentially he's trying to avoid the virus, or maybe he's reached a position within his consolidation of power that he no longer has to pay deference to his father and grandfather in order to maintain legitimacy."

Yahoo News: "Dead or Alive? the Mystery Surrounding Kim Jong Un Demonstrates the Limits of U.S. Intelligence on North Korea"

April 28, 2020

Ken Gause, Chris Steinitz, and Elizabeth Yang write, "There have been significant shifts over the last year that reveal some of Kim Jong-un's intentions in changing historical North Korean decision-making framework for future governance."

The Peninsula: Four Possible Post-Kim Jong-Un Regimes