Catastrophic Success: Why Foreign-Imposed Regime Change Goes Wrong

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A conversation with Dr Alexander Downes on his latest work, Catastrophic Success: Why Foreign-Imposed Regime Change Goes Wrong, which documents all instances of regime change around the world over the past two centuries.

The US has toppled more than 30 foreign leaders since the start of the 20th century, making it the world leader in regime change by a wide margin, but there are other examples. Russia’s current war against Ukraine is also an example of an attempted overthrow of a government. This comprehensive study by Dr Downes argues that intervening states generally fail to improve relations with their targets through regime change and the leaders they install are likely to be violently overthrown. As the US experience in Afghanistan shows, regime change often has devastating unintended consequences.

In this webinar, Dr Downes will discuss why regime change often instigates instability and conflict.

Dr Alexander Downes is a Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, and Co-Director of the Institute for Security and Conflict Studies at The George Washington University. Catastrophic Success: Why Foreign-Imposed Regime Change Goes Wrong was published in December 2021 by Cornell University Press. 

This event will be moderated by Dr Joanna Spear, Senior Associate Fellow, RUSI.

This event is open to RUSI members only. To become a member, please click here.

To take part, you must pre-register no later than 8 June using the ‘Register Now’ button above.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

If you have any questions, please e-mail Živilė Kulevičiūtė, Events Manager, at

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