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Logan West (’24): Strengthening U.S. Ties Abroad

Logan West

“The U.S. and Hungary are democracies with strong pride in our national identities and histories. We are allies in a common cause, and I am promoting the U.S.-Hungarian relationship to ensure that we maintain a strong relationship to defend against adversaries.”
-Logan West (’24)

Logan West was working with a government contractor when he first came to IWP to increase his expertise in the intelligence field. Over the course of his studies, he discovered a new passion: promoting international cooperation between the U.S. and Eastern Europe. He is now working as a research fellow at the Danube Institute, a Budapest-based think tank, and he has been instrumental in establishing IWP’s study abroad program in Hungary.

We spoke with Logan to learn more about his career and how IWP has set him up for success in his new work.

From intelligence to grand strategy

Logan always had a strong interest in international affairs, which led him to earn his bachelor’s degree in international studies from Ohio State University and pursue study abroad experiences in Jordan, South Korea, and Tanzania. After graduation, Logan returned to South Korea to teach English for a year before moving to Washington, D.C. to work on foreign affairs issues at Jacobs.

He enrolled in the M.A. program in Strategic Intelligence Studies at IWP to enhance his knowledge in his specialty. “IWP struck me as a serious school that focused on geopolitical issues and national security affairs,” said Logan.

He enjoyed his first year in this M.A. program: “I like the subject matter, as well as the combination of studying government and international affairs with studying Western civilization and its tenets. I liked my professors – Dr. Chodakiewicz and Prof. Tsagronis.

As a student, Logan took advantage of IWP’s study abroad experiences, and it was while he was at Oxford University studying Chinese cyber policy in Africa that he became aware of the Budapest Fellowship Program, a fellowship organized by the Hungary Foundation and Mathias Corvinus Collegium to bring Americans to Hungary to get an in-depth look at the country.

Logan was intrigued. “I loved being in Britain and visiting Europe,” he said. “At the time, I knew very little about Hungary. I wanted to try somewhere new that I had never been before. It was a fantastic program.”

After being accepted into the program, he was placed at the Danube Institute for his fellowship, where he was later hired to work as a Research Fellow.

While he was abroad, Logan switched from his intelligence M.A. program to an online Professional Master of Arts in Statecraft and Strategy, which would allow him the flexibility to stay in Hungary while he completed his studies.

Logan said, “As I did directed studies with Prof. Tsagronis and Dr. Chodakiewicz while in Oxford and Hungary, my thinking shifted. It went from thinking about intelligence to thinking about how intelligence fits into the larger picture. This was part of IWP’s focus on grand strategy and whole-of-government approach. That is when I changed my focus from the intelligence to the professional program. I wanted to preserve America’s interests and influence in the region and take a stronger interest in strategy.”

Logan West at IWP Orientation
Logan West at IWP Orientation

Fostering the U.S.-Hungary relationship

Logan has been thoroughly enjoying his work at the Danube Institute. He describes the think tank as a “hybrid between the Anglo world and Hungary, where Americans, Brits, and Australians all work with Hungarians to research current affairs. The ongoing Russia-Ukraine war is one of our main focuses.”

Logan specifically likes to look at cybersecurity geopolitics, such as Russian and Chinese investment into Hungary, and how this may impact Hungarian relationships with Western organizations such as NATO.

During the Budapest Fellowship program, Logan examined China’s Belt and Road Initiative within Hungary. He noted that Viktor Orbán’s foreign policy involved courting Eastern investment to have a balanced approach to the world. East Asian countries have built a 5G communications system in Hungary and AI-augmented logistics infrastructure. Logan’s research was published in an article titled “Cyber Winds: The East Asian Investments That Fill Hungary’s Infrastructural Sails.”

Logan completed another significant project after being hired as a staff member at the Danube Institute. Logan was part of a team that examined the AI research that China was conducting in Hungary and what potential threat this may pose. Logan says this research, titled “Chinese AI Capabilities in Hungary – An Assessment” will help with “developing a real situational awareness of what China is doing in Hungary.”

Logan at IWP Commencement in May 2024
Logan at IWP Commencement in May 2024

“The biggest thing I learned from IWP was really how to think strategically.”

Understanding international realities

Logan has been able to apply the knowledge from his IWP classes to his research at the Danube Institute. He says, “The biggest thing I learned from IWP was really how to think strategically.”

One incident he recalls occurred while attending a political conference in Romania. At the time of the conference, Logan was taking the class National Security Policy Process. At the conference, he applied what he learned in class by putting himself in the role of different national security advisors. He asked himself how people like Henrey Kissinger or Condoleezza Rice would approach these issues presented in the conference.

“The politics of Central and Eastern Europe are not easy,” said Logan. “If you want to be involved in international relations out here, you need to have a very strong strategic mind – one that takes in the issues of history and geopolitics, military preparedness, industry, etc. A lot of U.S. education is focused on ideology, but that is only part of the equation. You have to find the realities, investigate a situation, and figure out what and whom to ask.”

Logan says IWP prepared him to look at his work from a strategic perspective, saying “It has been critical to my success out here.”

Logan with fellow graduates at IWP Commencement
Logan with fellow graduates at IWP Commencement

A new U.S.-Hungary exchange

After coming to Hungary as a research fellow, Logan quickly learned there was so much more he wanted to accomplish than he could fit into the initial study abroad. “Hungary is a country with a very brutal past,” he said. “If you follow today’s current events, it’s fairly likely it could happen again if Russia gets its way in Europe. This bothered me a lot in my first six months there. It looked like history would repeat.”

Further, Logan was aware that many Americans didn’t have enough awareness about Hungary or its history. “During the 1956 Revolution, we only had one CIA officer who spoke Hungarian that was stationed in Hungary. We lacked a strong relationship. I wanted to do something to try to help fix it.”

He continued, “One day, I was taking an assessment of what kind of agency I have. The strongest asset I have is my education focused on international relations, as well as a relationship with IWP itself. IWP is a building full of ex-government officers who are geopolitical sharks, not just philosophizing academics. They are professors who have done the work and who have a mentality of America succeeding.”

Logan decided to speak to Prof. Tsagronis about developing a new study abroad program where IWP students could come to Hungary. This program, a partnership between IWP and the Danube Institute, would help fill the gaps in the U.S.-Hungary relationship.

“My goal is to build a corps of American officers who have a stronger understanding of central Europe,” said Logan. “The timing could not be more critical.”

Soon, Logan’s vision became a reality, and the first cohort of students from IWP left for Hungary in May 2024 for five weeks. Logan said, “These students will study, talk with leading academics, visit museums, visit government officials such as the Chief Political Advisor to the PM, and visit parliament to speak with the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.”

Logan hopes this IWP-Danube Institute program will evolve into an exchange: “I would love to see a program with Hungarians coming to IWP to learn about American geopolitics,” he says, “I want to see this platform outlive me – a platform that increases understanding between the two countries and the development of personal relationships.”

“My goal is to build a corps of American officers who have a stronger understanding of central Europe.”

Supporting the U.S. abroad

In the future, Logan would like to continue to work on independent projects that support U.S. influence around the world and build up our relationships with our allies.

He was recently accepted into the Baku Summer Energy School, a program in Azerbaijan to study the evolving energy sector, including business practices and trends in the industry. Access to energy is a critical issue in Central Europe and has historically served as a gateway of influence for Russia into the region.

Logan said: “I want to understand the energy sector more, develop my subject matter expertise, and find new opportunities to promote and expand American interests abroad.”

Logan with IWP Dean of Academics Dr. James Robbins
Logan with IWP Dean of Academics Dr. James Robbins