HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs


A decade after the removal of Saddam Hussein, we still appear reluctant to embrace one of the central lessons of Iraq: that regime change necessitates nation building. This lesson—and the many subsidiary lessons that flow from it—is of real relevance to what is happening in the Arab world today. In Libya, the international community sought to distance itself from this reality and the consequences of doing so are becoming apparent. In Syria, the almost obsessive focus on Assad suggests that few policymakers are prepared to talk about the huge effort—by Syrians and the international community—that will need to follow Assad’s fall, instead preferring to focus on the comparatively limited goal of removing him.


O'Sullivan, Meghan. "Lessons Learned." World Affairs. May/June 2013, 26-29.