All Grants

Ending Endless Wars in the Middle East

The Charles Koch Foundation is pleased to launch this request for proposals for grants to support research and other activities on important foreign policy issues confronting the United States today.

Given the changing nature of the world around us, the United States needs a foreign policy that prioritizes our national interests and productive engagement with other countries. We are proud to support research that challenges status quo thinking and inspires fresh perspectives in the foreign policy debate.

Grant Description

Over the past few decades, the United States has initiated, joined, and intensified conflicts across the Greater Middle East. This exercise of military force has generally failed to make America safer, produce political stability in the region, or enhance other vital American national interests. Instead, it has resulted in destabilization and the proliferation of hardened militants and terrorist groups. Many Americans and prominent politicians on both sides of the aisle have called for an end to “endless wars.” As political will mounts to leave foreign conflicts and bring American troops home, policymakers must grapple with exit strategies and the lessons learned from the last few decades of engagement. To that end, we are soliciting proposals for projects that:

  • Explore the effects of prolonged conflicts over the last few decades on the U.S. military, including the resulting impact on military effectiveness and readiness, civil-military relations, and active and former military personnel and their families.
  • Study the economic and security opportunity costs of continued U.S. engagement in the Middle East, including trade-offs in foreign and domestic policy.
  • Explore the ways in which the U.S. might withdraw its forces in the Greater Middle East, especially in the conflict zones of Syria and Iraq.
  • Evaluate the costs, benefits, and alternatives of working with specific partners in the Middle East, including states and proxy forces, through consideration of issues like moral hazard and principal-agent problems.
  • Examine ways that the United States might effectively de-escalate tensions with Iran while meeting our security needs.
  • Explore the positive and negative effects of providing military and foreign aid on military effectiveness, regime stability, and corruption in partner states.
  • Explore the strategic consequences of prolonged U.S. military action, including blowback, entrapment, terrorist proliferation, and spiral dynamics with potential rivals.
  • Examine social/political/economic/humanitarian effects of long-term conflict on local populations. Explore local populations’ perception of the United States in countries that were targets of U.S. armed interventions.
  • Examine the financial costs of military ventures in the Middle East, including the overall share of the Pentagon’s defense spending dedicated to fighting in Middle Eastern conflicts.
  • Explore the political and foreign policy processes that impact the United States’ continued participation in Middle Eastern conflicts despite successive presidents questioning military intervention.
  • Explore the benefits and risks of a U.S. military withdrawal on the stability of the region, including the impact on local conflicts and Middle Eastern politics, as well as how alternative means such as intelligence cooperation and diplomacy can meet U.S. objectives.

We are open to other research proposals that fit these general themes.

Grant Criteria

  • A two-to-five page abstract of the project. The abstract should provide sufficient detail for reviewers to assess the nature and feasibility of the idea.*
  • A CV or résumé.*
  • A brief, itemized budget.*
  • Final projects should be original and meet the highest standards of their field, and must not have been previously published.

*Items are required in application.


Funding levels are commensurate with the requirements of the research and the potential for the research to advance an understanding of critical issues. Accepted proposals may also receive support to disseminate the research findings.

Review & Notification Process

Proposals will be accepted and evaluated on a rolling basis.