Flynt Leverett

Flynt Leverett is senior fellow at the New America Foundation and a visiting professor of political science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He served as senior director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council and on the State Department's Policy Planning Staff during President Bush's first term. After leaving the Bush administration because of policy disagreements, he was a foreign-policy adviser to Senator John Kerry's presidential campaign.

Recent Articles

The Way Out

A roundtable discussion of our options for exiting Iraq.

Art by John Ritter.
In our June issue, Flynt Leverett penned a memo to the incoming president laying out the options for an exit from Iraq. Below, several prominent progressives respond and offer their own suggestions. Peter W. Galbraith Lawrence J. Korb Suzanne Nossel and Charles A. Kupchan Plus, Flynt Leverett responds. - - - Peter W. Galbraith: An Internal Solution for an Internal Problem Flynt Leverett is exactly right in his analysis in the shortcomings of Bush's Iraq strategy and the alternatives put forward by his mainstream Democratic critiques. Having inadvertently broken up Iraq in April 2003, the administration has been trying since then to recentralize the country. It has been a fool's errand (implemented at times by fools), not that President Bush has noticed. Bush repeatedly says that the Iraqi people have chosen national unity, although they voted twice in 2005 almost entirely for ethnic or sectarian parties. The goal of the current surge is to buy enough time so that Iraq's leaders can...

To the Incoming President: On Iraq

It's January, 2009. A Democrat has just become president and confronts one mean conundrum: What's the best way to leave Iraq?

To: The New President From: The National Security Adviser Date: January 21, 2009 On may 1, 2003, president George W. Bush stood on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln under a banner reading "Mission Accomplished" and triumphantly proclaimed the beginning of a new era in America's relations with the Middle East. As Bush and his advisers worked to define this new era, they rejected the regional strategy launched by another American president on the deck of another U.S. warship: Effectively, Bush repudiated the "oil for security" bargain struck by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt with Saudi Arabian King Abd al-Aziz ibn Saud aboard the USS Quincy on February 14, 1945, as a 60-year mistake. Bush's alternative strategy posited that a "free" Iraq, liberated by U.S. military power, would serve as a beacon in the heart of the Middle East for the development of liberal, and therefore pro-American, regimes throughout the region. Today, almost six years after the invasion of Iraq, the failures...

Illusion and Reality

On the evening of September 11, 2001, I was one of a small group of State Department staffers called in to confer with Secretary of State Colin Powell and work through the night to produce a diplomatic strategy for assembling an international coalition to destroy Osama bin Laden's base in Afghanistan. Powell took this strategy to the White House on the morning of September 12, and it became the blueprint for marshaling international support for Operation Enduring Freedom, launched months later. In the weeks following 9-11, my colleagues and I at State developed a comprehensive diplomatic strategy to support the war on terrorism. This strategy envisioned, beyond a military campaign in Afghanistan, a sustained global effort to “wrap up” bin Laden's operational networks and affiliates in the Middle East and elsewhere. Iraq would continue to be contained. As other state sponsors of terrorism like Iran and Syria came to the United States to offer assistance against al-Qaeda and the Taliban...

The Middle East: Thinking Big

One certainly cannot fault George W. Bush for lacking what his father famously called “the vision thing.” Immediately after the September 11 attacks, the president announced a war on all terrorists “with global reach,” and warned state sponsors of terrorism “to stand with us or with the terrorists.” Two months after the attacks, Bush endorsed a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict more explicitly than any of his predecessors. He developed a grand vision for political and economic liberalization in the Middle East, denouncing the 60-year-old policy “mistake” of cosseting authoritarian regimes in the Arab world for short-term strategic gains. And he explicitly linked his vision of a democratic Middle East to his strategies of regime change in Baghdad and Arab-Israeli peacemaking, arguing that the creation of democratic states in post–Saddam Hussein Iraq and Palestine would stimulate the spread of democracy. Unfortunately, while talking big, the president has thought...