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Preventive Engagement: How America Can Avoid War, Stay Strong, and Keep the Peace

Preventive Engagement: How America Can Avoid War, Stay Strong, and Keep the Peace

Conflict specialist Paul B. Stares proposes a long-term strategy for how the United States can manage the risks of a turbulent world in a way that does not rely solely on American power

Monday, November 13, 2017
12:00 PM
UCLA Bunche Hall
Room 10383

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Preventive Engagement Podcast



America finds itself in an acute predicament: The international order it has helped construct over many decades is under increasing stress from various quarters. As the world’s predominant military power and principal guarantor of global peace and security, the United States must fulfill its many responsibilities without becoming entangled in costly conflicts that threaten its security, deplete its national power, and weaken its international standing. In Preventive Engagement, General John W. Vessey Senior Fellow for Conflict Prevention and Director of the Center for Preventive Action Paul B. Stares proposes a long-term strategy for how the United States can manage the risks of a more turbulent world in a way that lessens the demand for––and potential drain on––U.S. power. Its novel approach adapts the basic techniques used to prevent many societal problems, such as infectious diseases, violent crime, and drug trafficking.

Preventive engagement has three complementary components: the promotion of policies known to lower the risk of violent conflict and political instability; the anticipation of crises most likely to precipitate major U.S. military engagement; and a concerted effort to mitigate if not resolve conflicts that erupt in the short term before escalating into a threat to U.S. interests. This comprehensive approach stresses early detection and foresight to actively manage sources of conflict. Using examples from Syria, Ukraine, and the South China Sea, Preventive Engagement shows its strategy in practice and illuminates the role that international actors—including nongovernmental organizations, the United Nations, regional organizations, and private businesses—can play to further U.S. preventive goals.



PAUL B. STARES is the General John W. Vessey senior fellow for conflict prevention and director of the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) where he oversees its Contingency Planning Memoranda and Council Special Reports on potential sources of instability and conflict.

Prior to joining CFR, Stares was vice president and director of the Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention at the United States Institute of Peace. He worked as associate director and senior research scholar at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation from 2000 to 2002 and was senior research fellow at the Japan Institute of International Affairs and then director of studies at the Japan Center for International Exchange from 1996 to 2000. From 1984 to 1996, he was a research associate and later senior fellow in the foreign policy studies program at the Brookings Institution. He has also been a NATO fellow and a scholar in residence at the MacArthur Foundation's Moscow office.

Stares has participated in various high-level studies, including the Genocide Prevention Task Force cochaired by Madeleine Albright and William Cohen, as well as the expert working group on the strategic environment for the Iraq Study Group co-chaired by James Baker and Lee Hamilton. He is the author or editor of numerous books including most recently Preventive Engagement: How America Can Avoid War, Stay Strong, and Keep the Peace (Columbia University Press, 2017), as well as several CFR publications, notably Partners in Preventive Action (Council Special Report No. 62), Managing Instability on China’s Periphery (Asia Security Memorandum), “Enhancing U.S. Crisis Preparedness”
(Policy Innovation Memorandum No. 4), “Military Escalation in Korea” (Contingency Planning Memorandum No. 10), Enhancing U.S. Preventive Action (Council Special Report No. 48), and Preparing for Sudden Change in North Korea (Council Special Report No. 42). In addition to his work for the Council, Stares is an adjunct professor in Georgetown University's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. He has a BA from North Staffordshire Polytechnic and received both his MA and PhD from Lancaster University.

Cost : Free and open to the public

Sponsor(s): Burkle Center for International Relations