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Conflict Prevention Priorities: Three Things to Know

Speaker: Paul B. Stares, General John W. Vessey Senior Fellow for Conflict Prevention and Director of the Center for Preventive Action, Council on Foreign Relations
December 19, 2012

Every year, CFR's Center for Preventive Action surveys leading experts to rank conflict prevention priorities based on their potential impact on U.S. interests and their likelihood of occurring in the coming year. Paul B. Stares, General John W. Vessey Senior Fellow for Conflict Prevention and Director of the Center for Preventive Action at CFR highlights some of the top preventive priorities for the United States in 2013:

  • Syria's Civil War – "The intensification of Syria's civil war including possible limited external intervention was judged to have the highest priority," says Stares. The Syrian conflict was the only contingency that the survey found both likely to come to a head in the next year, and also likely to have substantial impact for U.S. interests.
  • Iran's Nuclear Standoff – An Israeli military strike to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities remains plausible in the coming year, according to the survey. "Such an attack could have a profound effect on stability in the region and embroil the United States in the conflict that would likely ensue if Iran chooses to retaliate," says Stares.
  • East Asia Territorial Disputes – The survey found continued escalation of tensions in the South China Sea and East China Sea is yet another plausible contingency which would have significant implications for U.S. interests. "This applies in particular to a potential Sino-Japanese clash over the disputed islands in the East China Sea," says Stares, "if there is an armed clash, the United States would likely be drawn in because of its treaty obligations to Japan."

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