Regime Change in the Greater Middle East

Project Expert

Philip H. Gordon
Philip H. Gordon

Mary and David Boies Senior Fellow in U.S. Foreign Policy

About the Project

Since the 1950s, the United States has set out to oust governments in the Middle East on an average of around once per decade. It has done so in places as diverse as Iran, Afghanistan (twice), Iraq, Egypt, Libya and Syria, and for reasons including countering communism, geopolitical competition, preventing weapons of mass destruction proliferation, combatting terrorism, saving lives and trying to promote democracy. And it has done so in a wide variety of ways, including sponsoring a military coup, providing covert or overt military assistance to opposition groups, invading and occupying, invading and not occupying, providing air power to rebel forces, or relying on diplomacy, rhetoric and sanctions alone. What is common to all these efforts, however is that they failed to achieved their ultimate goals, produced a range of unintended consequences, carried heavy financial and human costs and in many cases left the countries in question worse off than they were before. I am working on a book looking back on these experiences, with the aim of drawing lessons for the current policy debates about potential regime change policies in Iran, Syria, Venezuela, and elsewhere. The book’s working title is False Promise: Why Regime Change in the Middle East Never Works and will be published by St. Martin’s Press in 2020.