In political science, rollback is the strategy of forcing change in the major policies of a state, usually by replacing its ruling regime. It contrasts with containment, which means preventing the expansion of that state; and with détente, which means a working relationship with that state. Most of the discussions of rollback in the scholarly literature deal with United States foreign policy toward Communist countries during the Cold War. The rollback strategy was tried, and failed, in Korea in 1950, and in Cuba in 1961. The political leadership of the United States discussed the use of rollback during the uprising of 1953 in East Germany and the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, but decided against it to avoid the risk of Soviet intervention and a major war.

The rollback strategy succeeded in Grenada in 1983. Ronald Reagan promoted a rollback strategy against what he called the "evil empire" (the Soviet Union) in the 1980s. NATO has deployed a rollback strategy in Afghanistan since 2001 to end the power of the Taliban. Rollback of governments hostile to the U.S. took place in the American Civil War (1861–65), World War I (against Germany 1918), World War II (against Italy 1943, Germany 1945 and Japan 1945), 1953 Iranian coup d'état (against Mohammad Mosaddegh), 1954 Guatemalan coup (against Jacobo Árbenz), Panama (against Noriega, 1989), and Iraq (against Saddam Hussein 2003). In September 2014, after ISIL had outraged public opinion by beheading two American journalists, President Obama announced, "America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat. Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy." When directed against an established government rollback is sometimes called "regime change".

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