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PhD Students

Eugenio Lilli


Research topics

US Foreign Policy; The Middle East; International Terrorism; Arab Awakening.

Research project 

Early in his Presidency, Barack Obama announced that setting a new beginning in US-Muslim relations would be a top-priority of his administration. To what extent did President Obama’s foreign policy actually represent a paradigm shift in the traditional US foreign policy toward the Muslim world, and especially toward the Greater Middle East? This research assesses change or continuity in the foreign policy of the United States toward arguably one of the most geo-strategically important regions of the world. 
To provide an exhaustive answer to our research question, I undertake a study of US foreign policy at three different levels: foreign policy rhetoric, foreign policy practice, and the relationship between the two. First, I demonstrate that US rhetoric has been consistently influenced by the time-honored idea of national exceptionalism and its foreign policy spin-off, the myth of innocence. Second, with regard to US practice, I argue that the national interest is a multifaceted concept and a fundamental driver of foreign policy. I also identify the core national interests that have traditionally informed US foreign policy toward the Greater Middle East: access to the region’s energy resources, containment of hostile powers, policies to counter terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the special relationship with Israel, and democracy promotion. Third, I show that US Middle East policy has often been characterized by a noticeable disconnect between foreign policy rhetoric and foreign policy practice.
Finally, I analyze President Obama’s Middle East policy to assess whether it represented a significant break with the tradition of US foreign policy toward the Greater Middle East. In order to do that, this research focuses on the transformative events that upset the region in 2011, and especially on a comparative analysis of the first Obama administration’s response to the popular uprisings in Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, and Syria.  


Professor Greg Kennedy, Defence Studies Department, UK Joint Services Command and Staff College 


Eugenio holds a BA (110 cum laude) in Economics, Politics and Institutions of the European Union and a MA (110 cum laude) in Economics and Politics of European Integration (University of Bologna, Forlì Campus). During his MA he won a one year scholarship to study at the University of California, San Diego where he undertook most of his research on international terrorism and the US War on Terror. He joined King’s College London, War Studies Department, in 2010. From 2011 to 2013 Eugenio was a Teaching Fellow at the UK Joint Services Command and Staff College. He defended his PhD in March 2015 and he is currently undertaking the final revisions to his project. 


 “Foreign Intervention: A Double Edged Sword”, book chapter in “Contentious Politics in the Middle East”, edited by London School of Economics Middle East Centre, Palgrave-Macmilllan, forthcoming 2015.

“NATO after Libya –Current and Future Challenges”, book chapter in “Challenges for the Transatlantic Relations in a Global World”, edited by Instituto Franklin-Universidad Alcalà de Henares, Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Alcalà, forthcoming 2015.

“Why has Islamic State started demanding ransoms in hostage videos?”, The Telegraph, January 20, 2015.

“How Would a Deal between Al-Qaeda and Isil Change Syria's Civil War?”, The Telegraph, November 14, 2014.

“Book Review: The Arab Uprising: The Unfinished Revolutions of the New Middle East by Marc Lynch”, Global Policy Journal, December 28, 2013.

“Book Review: Bending History: Barack Obama’s Foreign Policy by Martin S. Indyk et al”, Global Policy Journal, May 30, 2012.

“The Illusion of US Isolationism”, Cornell International Affairs Review, Vol. V, Issue I, Fall 2011.

“The Peril of Hasty Triumphalism and Osama bin Laden’s Death”, Journal for Terrorism Research, Vol.2, Issue 1, May 2011.

“Revolts in the Arab World: Is It Bad News for Islamic Terrorists?”, Journal for Terrorism Research, Vol.2, Issue 1, April 2011.

“Obama’s Global War On Terror”, World Defence Systems, Atalink, London, Vol.2, pp,193-195, 2010.

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