Flynt Leverett

Flynt Leverett

Professor of International Affairs and Asian Studies


B.A., B.M., Texas Christian University
M.A., Princeton University
Ph.D., Princeton University


An expert on the Middle East, international political economy, and Chinese foreign policy, Flynt Leverett is part of the founding faculty for Penn State’s School of International Affairs, faculty affiliate in Penn State’s School of Law and Asian Studies Program, and visiting scholar at Peking University’s School of International Studies. He is a regular contributor to The World Financial Review and, with his wife and frequent co-author, Hillary Mann Leverett, writes www.GoingToTehran.com, a prominent forum for realist analysis on Iran and the Middle East.

 From 1992 to 2003, Prof. Leverett had a distinguished career in the U.S. Government. He served nine years as senior Middle East analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency. On the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff, he earned a Superior Honor Award for his contributions to forming an international coalition against al-Qa’ida after the 9/11 attacks and to diplomatic efforts with Libya that led to the normalization of U.S.-Libyan relations after years of estrangement. In 2002, he went to the White House to serve as the National Security Council’s senior director for Middle East affairs; he left government service in 2003 because of disagreements over Middle East policy and the conduct of the war on terror.

Prof. Leverett has written extensively on the international relations, politics, and political economy of the Middle East and on U.S. Middle East policy. His latest book, Going to Tehran: Why America Must Accept the Islamic Republic of Iran (2013), is now in paperback, with a new Afterword.  Before publication, Going to Tehran was excerpted in Harper’s and highlighted by Foreign Policy as a “Book to Read in 2013.” It was also the launch point for a Penn State Journal of Law and International Affairs symposium on “The U.S.-Iranian Relationship and the Future of International Order.” While controversial for many U.S. policy elites, Going to Tehran has been lauded by leading public intellectuals like Andrew Bacevich, Noam Chomsky, and Glenn Greenwald.  Outside the United States, Going to Tehran was recommended by the Indian Council on Global Relations and will soon appear in Chinese. Prof. Leverett’s first book, Inheriting Syria: Bashar’s Trial by Fire (2005), was a Foreign Affairs bestseller and remains on Foreign Affairs‘ “What to Read on Syrian Politics” list. He also writes about global energy affairs and the implications of China’s rise.    

Prof. Leverett has been a visiting professor at MIT and Yale and given presentations at top universities around the world, including Beijing (Peking University), Cambridge, Chicago, Georgetown, Harvard Law School, Johns Hopkins SAIS, Maryland, MIT, NYU, Tehran, Toronto, and Yale. He has been interviewed on major news and public affairs programs, including Al Jazeera (Arabic and English), BBC’s Doha Debates and HARDtalk, the University of California’s Conversations with History, CCTV, Charlie Rose, C-Span’s Book TV and Washington Journal, NHK’s Close Up Gendai, PBS Newshour, Russia Today’s CrossTalk, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He was featured in the BBC/PBS documentary, Israel and the Arabs: The Elusive Peace (2005) and in PBS Frontline’s Showdown With Iran (2007). His articles and op-eds appear regularly in high-profile outlets, including The New York TimesPolitico, and The National Interest

Prof. Leverett has testified before congressional committees and addressed foreign ministries and strategic research institutes in Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. He has been a peer reviewer for the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook and a consultant to the World Economic Forum’s “Gulf Cooperation Council and the World 2025” scenarios project. He has spoken at the Carnegie Council on Ethics in International Affairs, the East-West Institute, the Royal Institute for International Affairs (Chatham House) and other prestigious venues. He is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations.