Containment: Rebuilding a Strategy against Global Terror

Containment: Rebuilding a Strategy against Global Terror

Containment: Rebuilding a Strategy against Global Terror

Containment: Rebuilding a Strategy against Global Terror


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 He debunks the belief that containment is obsolete.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.


I backed into writing this book in a curious way. In September of 2004 I was asked to give a lecture to the Yale Club of Tokyo. I supplied a list of possible topics, but my host, Jim Brooke, rejected them all, saying that his members wanted me to talk instead about what a Kerry administration's foreign policy would be.This prompted me to give a lecture on why there was not going to be a Kerry administration, out of which the book grew. My expectations about the Kerry campaign flowed from the conviction that in politics it is hard to beat something with nothing.

The Democrats had been on the defensive since the Republican sweep of Congress for the first time in a generation ten years earlier.That takeover had mainly been driven by domestic politics. Democrats were unready for the assault on the welfare state and the tax-cutting juggernaut that had been incubating in the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, and other conservative think tanks since the 1970s. Codified in the House Republicans' 1994 manifesto, the Contract with America, the new Republican agenda recast political debate in Washington with Democrats scrambling to get aboard. By 1996 President Clinton had become a budget-balancing fiscal conservative and was signing legislation to β€œend welfare as we know it.” When George W. Bush came into office in January of 2001, conservatives moved quickly to consolidate their gains, pass-

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