Over the last three decades, Ethan Chorin has had an extraordinary view of developments in the Middle East and Africa as an American diplomat, oil and ports executive and advisor to senior government officials. But for many years, the focus of his professional work has been the oil-rich North African country of Libya, where he was posted as one of a small number of US diplomats sent to open a proto-Embassy following the US’ shotgun reconciliation with Libyan dictator Col. Muammar Gaddafi in the early 2000s. Chorin returned to Libya in 2011, as the Libyan revolution was underway, to work on healthcare infrastructure. In that context, he became a witness to the 2012 attack on the US mission in Benghazi, which killed former colleague Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. That event launched a massive partisan melee, which while it has been dismissed as inconsequential, accelerated America’s retreat from the Middle East, and contributed substantially to America’s polarization and the election of Donald Trump in 2016. This broader context to the Benghazi attack is the subject of his latest book, Benghazi!: A New History of the Fiasco that Pushed America and its World to the Brink (Hachette, 2022).
Chorin’s other books include Exit the Colonel (Public Affairs, 2012) and Translating Libya (Darf, 2015), and a forthcoming translation of Mohammed Al Harthi’s travelogue of the Himalaya. Chorin’s work on Libya, Iran, Yemen and the broader Middle East has appeared in The Financial Times, The New York Times, Foreign Affairs, Salon, Foreign Policy, Forbes, Newsweek, Prospect, and the BBC. He has held Fulbright (Jordan) and Fulbright-Hays (Yemen) fellowships, and has held fellow and researcher positions at Yale University-SOM, SOAS, the Dubai School of Government, and the Ecole polytechnique. Chorin holds a PhD in Agricultural and Resource Economics from UC Berkeley, an MA in International Policy Studies from Stanford University, and a BA in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from Yale, with distinction. He speaks Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew and French.