The 9/11 terrorist attacks starkly recast the U.S. debate on “rogue states.” In this new era of vulnerability, should the United States counter the dangers of weapons proliferation and state-sponsored terrorism by toppling regimes or by promoting change in the threatening behavior of their leaders? Regime Change examines the contrasting precedents set with Iraq and Libya and provides incisive analysis of the pressing crises with North Korea and Iran. A successor to the author’s influential Rogue States and U.S. Foreign Policy (2000), this compelling book clarifies and critiques the terms in which today’s vital foreign policy and security debate is being conducted.

Robert S. Litwak is director of the Division of International Security Studies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He formerly served as director for nonproliferation on the National Security Council staff.

A Book Launch Event for Regime Change was held on Feb. 21, 2007, at the Wilson Center.



Part One
1. The “Imperial Republic,” Rogue States, and International Order
2. Dilemmas of Force after 9/11
3. Strategies for a Change of Regime—or for Change within a Regime?

Part Two
4. Iraq: From Containment to Regime Change
5. Libya: Rejoining the “Family of Nations”?
6. Iran: Revolutionary State or Ordinary Country?
7. North Korea: Proliferation in a Failed State
8. Non-State Threats: The “Nexus” of Proliferation and Terrorism

Epilogue: Regime Change


“Robert Litwak has performed an invaluable public service for both students and practitioners of American foreign policy. Regime Change addresses the unholy trinity of 21st-century threats—weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, and failing states—through a post-9/11 prism. What makes this not just an important book but an urgent one are his insights into the Bush administration’s approach to these issues. This volume stands alone in its analytical rigor and deep understanding of how the Bush administration has embraced the concepts of unilateralism, preemption, and regime change, and the foreign policy consequences that have flowed from its decisions. No other book so clearly illuminates the challenges and opportunities the United States faces in reshaping the international system.”—Mitchell B. Reiss, vice provost of International Affairs, College of William & Mary, and former director of Policy Planning, U.S. State Department, 2003–5

Regime Change is destined to become a classic work of contemporary strategic studies. Robert Litwak masterfully tackles the fundamental strategic paradox of our time—how America has never been as powerful and as vulnerable—through a rich and detailed examination of the globe’s rogue states and the threats they pose to U.S. security.”—Bruce Hoffman, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University

“This impressive study is the best yet of those that outline the dilemmas and choices that face the United States as it confronts hostile states threatening to build weapons of mass destruction.”—G. John Ikenberry, Foreign Affairs

“Stimulating, and packed with insights… illuminates the heart of contemporary American national security policy.”—Patrick M. Morgan, Political Science Quarterly

“An easy and enjoyable read, this book is perfect for anyone interested in understanding US strategy post-9/11 and is a valuable contribution to the ongoing debate surrounding the degree to which the Bush administration’s foreign policy has been a radical departure from previous administrations.”—Joshua W. Walker, International Affairs

“This first-class historical narrative belongs to a unique literary genre that can be called ‘the history of the present’… professionals who seek profound understanding of the call of our time will find Litwak’s Regime Change an irresistible compendium of materials to undertake the complicated task of understanding the challenges of the historical era that began in the recent past.”—Aliyu Bello, Strategic Studies Quarterly

Cited in the New York Times, May 7, 2007