June 4, 2024
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm


Middle East Institute
1763 N St. NW
Washington, District of Columbia 20036 (Map)

Please note, this is an in-person event at MEI's headquarters in Washington, D.C.

As Commander of US Central Command between March 2019 and April 2022, Gen. Frank McKenzie oversaw some of the most important — and debated — operations in recent U.S. military history. His memoir, The Melting Point, provides a firsthand account of his experiences in command, focusing on three central themes: the crucial role of civilian control over the military, the unique challenges of being a combatant commander at the crossroads of policy, strategy, and operations, and the critical impact of leadership and decision-making. This book offers a vivid portrait of leadership in action in one of the world's most volatile regions.

Please join the Middle East Institute for an important conversation with Gen. McKenzie to discuss his newly released book and hear his insights into the current conflicts roiling the Middle East. We look forward to welcoming you to what is sure to be an engaging and thought-provoking discussion.


General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr.
Former Commander, U.S. Central Command
Executive Director, University of South Florida Global and National Security Institute

Paul Salem (Moderator)
President and CEO, Middle East Institute

Detailed Speaker Biographies

General (Ret) Kenneth F. “Frank” McKenzie, Jr. became the Executive Director of the University of South Florida’s Global and National Security Institute in May 2022. In July 2022, he also became the Executive Director of the Florida Center for Cybersecurity, also known as Cyber Florida. He is the former Commander, United States Central Command. A native of Birmingham, Alabama, upon graduation from The Citadel in 1979, General McKenzie was commissioned into the Marine Corps and trained as an infantry officer. Upon promotion to Brigadier General in July 2007, he served on the Joint Staff as a Deputy Director of Operations within the National Military Command Center. In June 2008, he was selected by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to be the Director of the Chairman's New Administration Transition Team (CNATT). In July 2017, he was named the Director, Joint Staff. General McKenzie was promoted to the grade of General and assumed command of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) in March 2019. He relinquished command of CENTCOM and retired from the Marine Corps on 1 April 2022, completing over 42 years of service.
General McKenzie is an honors graduate of the Armor Officer Advanced Course, Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and the School of Advanced Warfighting.

Paul Salem is president and CEO of the Middle East Institute. He focuses on issues of political change, transition, and conflict as well as the regional and international relations of the Middle East. Salem is the author and editor of a number of books and reports including Escaping the Conflict Trap: Toward Ending Civil Wars in the Middle East (ed. with Ross Harrison, MEI 2019); Winning the Battle, Losing the War: Addressing the Conditions that Fuel Armed Non State Actors (ed. with Charles Lister, MEI 2019); From Chaos to Cooperation: Toward Regional Order in the Middle East (ed. with Ross Harrison, MEI 2017), Broken Orders: The Causes and Consequences of the Arab Uprisings (In Arabic, 2013), "Thinking Arab Futures: Drivers, scenarios, and strategic choices for the Arab World", The Cairo Review Spring 2019;  “The Recurring Rise and Fall of Political Islam” (CSIS, 2015),  Bitter Legacy: Ideology and Politics in the Arab World (1994), and Conflict Resolution in the Arab World (ed., 1997).  Prior to joining MEI, Salem was the founding director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, Lebanon between 2006 and 2013.  From 1999 to 2006, he was director of the Fares Foundation and in 1989-1999 founded and directed the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies, Lebanon's leading public policy think tank.