Containment: Rebuilding a Strategy against Global Terror

Ian Shapiro
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: STU - Student edition
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    In this powerfully argued book, Ian Shapiro shows that the idea of containment offers the best hope for protecting Americans and their democracy into the future. His bold vision for American security in the post-September 11 world is reminiscent of George Kennan's historic "Long Telegram," in which the containment strategy that won the Cold War was first developed.

    The Bush Doctrine of preemptive war and unilateral action has been marked by incompetence--missed opportunities to capture Osama bin Laden, failures of postwar planning for Iraq, and lack of an exit strategy. But Shapiro contends that the problems run deeper. He explains how the Bush Doctrine departs from the best traditions of American national-security policy and accepted international norms, and renders Americans and democratic values less safe. He debunks the belief that containment is obsolete. Terror networks might be elusive, but the enabling states that make them dangerous can be contained. Shapiro defends containment against charges of appeasement, arguing that force against a direct threat will be needed. He outlines new approaches to intelligence, finance, allies, diplomacy, and international institutions. He explains why containment is the best alternative to a misguided agenda that naively assumes democratic regime change is possible from the barrel of an American gun.

    President Bush has defined the War on Terror as the decisive ideological struggle of our time. Shapiro shows what a self-defeating mistake that is. He sets out a viable alternative that offers real security to Americans, reclaims America's international stature, and promotes democracy around the world.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2756-5
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xvi)
  4. 1 The Idea Vacuum
    (pp. 1-9)

    Power expands to fill a vacuum. This holds for ideas no less than for military campaigns, as the George W. Bush administration’s national security doctrine has so dramatically underscored.¹ Announced in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, it ranks as one of the most dramatic sea changes in U.S. national security policy ever. The Bush Doctrine has also turned traditional Republican Party foreign policy inside out and upside down. The congenital skeptics of foreign entanglements, whose leader heaped scorn on “nation building” in his 2000 presidential campaign, were transformed overnight...

  5. 2 End of the Criminal Justice Consensus
    (pp. 10-14)

    In July of 2005, in the course of sentencing Algerian “millennium bomber” Ahmed Ressam to twenty-two years in prison for planning to detonate a bomb at Los Angeles International Airport, U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour went out of his way to explain that the federal courts are equal to the task of prosecuting suspected terrorists. “I would like to convey the message that our system works,” he said. “We did not need to use a secret military tribunal, or detain the defendant indefinitely as an enemy combatant, or deny him the right to counsel, or invoke any proceedings beyond...

  6. 3 Filling the Vacuum
    (pp. 15-31)

    For all the talk about the clash of civilizations in the academy and about Islamofascism on right-wing radio talk shows, during the first four years the Bush Doctrine was not portrayed by the administration as a response to Islam, or even a response to militant Islam.¹ In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, President Bush was careful to declare that “the enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends. It is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists and every government that supports them.”² Indeed, the Bush Doctrine was not billed as...

  7. 4 Containment for Democracy
    (pp. 32-53)

    A government’s obligation to protect its citizens from violent attack lies at the core of every plausible national security doctrine. This means being ready to respond effectively to attacks, and it legitimates the use of preemptive force when such attacks are imminent. Demanding as these injunctions might often be to meet, that they should be met is uncontroversial in U.S. historical practice, international law, and common sense. No government would be elected if it failed to embrace them, and none should expect to survive for long if the electorate comes to believe it incompetent to meet them. These are the...

  8. 5 Containment’s Realism
    (pp. 54-101)

    A good part of containment’s appeal after World War II stemmed from its manifest realism. The nation’s security had to be achieved with a reduced military and on diminished budgets. Necessity was the mother of invention. George Kennan offered a hard-nosed way of ordering threats that took account of postwar realities. Worldwide U.S. hegemony was not needed to protect vital American interests. Adversaries who could be neither vanquished nor won over could be managed. Competition among them would diffuse the threats they posed, and, as they came to see that the United States harbored no plan to attack them, tensions...

  9. 6 Democracy for Containment
    (pp. 102-118)

    The argument for containment defended here is rooted in a commitment to democracy. Its goal is to preserve existing democracies into the future by containing threats to them. Whereas George Kennan argued for containment on purely strategic grounds, my case is buttressed by the claim that containment flows naturally out of the democratic understanding of nondomination. Resisting domination by others without seeking to dominate them is the national security analogue of Machiavelli’s dictum that power is best given to the common people, whose desire is not to be dominated, rather than to dominate. It bids us to work toward a...

  10. 7 Our Present Peril
    (pp. 119-134)

    The case for containment, as I have outlined it here, is rooted in the best of America’s democratic and national security traditions that the George W. Bush administration spurned. It offers the most feasible basis for protecting Americans and their democracy from violent attack, and can be summarized in the following five national security injunctions:

    Secure America’s survival as a democracy into the future.

    Guard against terrorism by containing enabling states, investing in human intelligence, and enhancing homeland security.

    Gear military alliances and collective defense agreements first to America’s survival as a democracy and then to the defense of other...

  11. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 135-136)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 137-178)
  13. Index
    (pp. 179-192)