Americaneeds a post-occupation strategy for Iraqand the Middle East, one grounded in a viable national security strategy for the twenty-first century. That strategy is containment.
. . .
Containment’s goal was to prevent Soviet expansion without saddling the
with unsustainable military obligations. So long as the US did not stage a military attack, containment’s reliance on economic sticks and carrots, competition within the world communist movement, intelligence and diplomacy, and promoting the vitality of the capitalist democracies would guarantee security. Kennan was right: the dysfunctional features of Soviet system, and its over-extension internationally, would lead to its demise. USSR
Shapiro argues that a similar strategy has already worked with
Krieger sums up:
So there are two lessons from the Cold War: We only hurt ourselves by intervening, and that we will only have the confidence not to intervene when we acknowledge that there is little direct threat to American security. We can't use the abstract threat of "terrorism" to justify hasty and aggressive action in the
Middle Eastanymore. We have to recapture that Cold War confidence that authoritarian states will collapse as a result of their own dysfunction, and that "the best way to spread democracy is to demonstrate its superiority" rather than "ramming [it] down people’s throats."
While this certainly would be a better foreign policy framework than the thuggish, incoherent approach favored thus far by the administration, I’m not sure how applicable it is today. Shapiro is much more an expert on containment than I am, but I’m not convinced his interpretation of containment would be accepted by conservatives (or even liberal hawks) now. One narrative of the Cold War goes like this: we or our proxies fought the communists in
Someone who subscribes to this retelling of the Cold War is not going to be persuaded by Shapiro’s argument that in order to reprise our success against the Soviet Union with our enemies today, we need to withdraw from
But the story of containment is a compelling one, and Americans know that it basically worked. If the doctrine can be resurrected for use and retooled for our circumstances today, it could be a useful way of framing what in essence would be a new foreign policy of “don’t go around blowing shit up for no good reason.”