Policy Forum

The Failure of Forcible Regime‐​Change Operations

February 26, 2020 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM EST

Cato Institute, 1000 Massachusetts Ave, NW, Washington, DC

Featuring Ben Denison, Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Strategic Studies, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University; Lindsey O’Rourke, Assistant Professor, Boston College; Alexander Downes, Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, George Washington University; moderated by Christopher Preble, Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies, Cato Institute.

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The United States has, at various times in its history, used military force to overthrow foreign governments. In recent years, however, there has been a growing scholarly consensus that these regime‐​change operations are often ineffective and produce deleterious side effects. Scholars have found that regime‐​change missions, whether trying to achieve political, security, economic, or humanitarian goals, do not succeed as envisioned. Instead, they are likely to spark civil wars; lead to lower levels of democracy; increase repression; and, in the end, draw the intervener into lengthy nation‐​building projects. Instead of promoting more democracy and advancing American security, forcible regime change undermines the effectiveness of other foreign policy tools. Such operations therefore ultimately harm America’s ability to achieve its policy goals.

Come hear a panel of distinguished experts discuss the use of regime‐​change operations and its effect on U.S. foreign policy.