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). Besides overseeing the center's series of Contingency Planning Memoranda and Council Special Reports on potential sources of instability and conflict, he is currently writing a book on how the United States can make preventive action the centerpiece of a new security strategy for the 21st century.
Prior to joining CFR, Dr. Stares was the vice president and director of the Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention at the United States Institute of Peace. He worked as an associate director and senior research scholar at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation from 2000 to 2002 and was a 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 a 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.
Dr. Stares has participated in various high-level studies, including leading the expert working group on preventive diplomacy for the Genocide Prevention Task Force co-chaired 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, articles, and reports, including most recently the CFR publications Partners in Preventive Action (Council Special Report No. 62), Managing Instability on China's Periphery (Asia Security Memoranda), 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, Dr. Stares is an Adjunct Professor in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and a Guest Lecturer at the London School of Economics. He has a BA from North Staffordshire Polytechnic and received both his MA and PhD from Lancaster University.
The Preventive Imperative: How America Can Avoid War and Stay Strong in the Twenty-First Century
Since the end of the Cold War the United States has been regularly pressured or compelled to use its military power in the interests of national security and the maintenance of international order. In many instances these demands have derived from unforeseen developments and led to costly military commitments with uncertain results. How the United States can better anticipate potential crises that carry the risk of military engagement and, moreover, employ a range of preventive policy measures to avert and, if needed, manage dangerous contingencies, is the subject of my forthcoming book, The Preventive Imperative: How America Can Avoid War and Stay Strong in the Twenty-First Century. Borrowing from standard risk assessment techniques and strategies regularly used for addressing public health and safety challenges, the book presents a comprehensive guide to preventive action for U.S. policymakers.
Looking Ahead: Identifying Geopolitical Risks to U.S. Interests
As a function of its unparalleled global role and commitments, the United States is exposed to an enormous level of geopolitical risk in the form of numerous contingencies and ongoing crises around the world. These are not all equally consequential to U.S. interests, however, and thus it is important—especially when attention and resources are limited—to prioritize those contingencies and crises that pose the greatest threat so that they can be the focus of preventive efforts. The inherent uncertainties surrounding the onset and escalation of consequential contingencies make precise predictions impossible, but risk assessments based on expert opinion can help policymakers choose among competing conflict prevention demands. The Center for Preventive Action's (CPA) annual Preventive Priorities Survey draws upon the informed judgments of government officials, foreign policy experts, and academics to identify thirty contingencies requiring U.S. attention over the next twelve months. CPA also provides background information and up-to-date analysis of these contingencies on its online interactive, the Global Conflict Tracker.
This project is made possible through the support of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
Enhancing U.S. Preparedness for Future Crises
The United States does a poor job of anticipating foreign crises and as a consequence frequently finds itself having to hastily improvise policies in response. These crisis response efforts are often more costly and less effective than preventive measures that lessen the likelihood of a dangerous contingency. With the goal of sensitizing U.S. policymakers to crises that are both plausible and potentially detrimental to U.S. interests in the short-to-medium term while also helping them formulate practical prevention and mitigation strategies, CPA routinely convenes Contingency Planning Roundtables,"Flashpoints" Roundtables, and Preventive Action Workshops and publishes Contingency Planning Memoranda.
The Contingency Planning Roundtables and Memoranda are made possible through the support of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the “Flashpoints” Roundtables and Preventive Action Workshops are made possible through the support ofof the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
The Center for Preventive Action's annual Preventive Priorities Survey (PPS) evaluates ongoing and potential conflicts based on their likelihood of occurring in the coming year and their impact on U.S. interests. The PPS aims to help the U.S. policymaking community prioritize competing conflict prevention and mitigation demands.
The deterioration of violence in Iraq and Afghanistan, disputes in Ukraine and the East and South China Seas, and the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea are among the top concerns of foreign policy experts, says CFR's Paul Stares.
Tensions on the Korean peninsula need to be managed carefully so that growing South Korean and U.S. intolerance for Korean belligerence doesn't lead to unintended military escalation, say CFR's Scott Snyder and Paul Stares.
President Obama's first National Security Strategy departs from Bush administration doctrine by redefining the war against terror groups and embracing multilateralism, and may expect too much from global partners, say CFR experts in an analytical roundup.
The United States can ill afford the burden of additional foreign policy challenges, making it imperative that the U.S. government find ways to identify, delay, and avert international crises that could harm U.S. interests or even lead to military engagement. In this report, the authors provide an actionable road map for how the U.S. government should revamp its existing U.S. prevention architecture to make it more effective in dealing with potential crises abroad.
Authors: Charles D. Ferguson, Paul B. Stares, David C. Kang, and Charles L. "Jack" Pritchard
North Korea's nuclear test raises new concerns about its nuclear capabilities, regime succession, and the limits of both international pressure and engagement. Four experts address the policy options available to influence Pyongyang.
Paul B. Stares and Alexander Noyes argue that "A conditional suspension of the ICC's warrant for Bashir is the best way to prevent a collapse of the CPA, protect those still in need, and force Khartoum to act toward ending the conflict in Darfur."
North Korea has long been a serious concern to Washington. Now, with President Kim Jong-Il reportedly in bad health and possibly naming a successor, the United States must consider possible outcomes should the situation deteriorate and the current North Korean government collapse. This report examines the challenges that these scenarios would pose--ranging from securing Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal to providing humanitarian assistance--in the context of the interests of the United States and others in its valuable recommendations.
Director: Paul B. Stares, General John W. Vessey Senior Fellow for Conflict Prevention and Director of the Center for Preventive Action March 2009—Present
This monthly meeting series seeks to organize focused discussions on plausible short to medium term contingencies that could seriously threaten U.S. interests. Contingency meeting topics will range from specific states or regions of concern to more thematic issues and will draw on the expertise of government and nongovernment experts. The goal of the meeting series is not only to raise awareness of U.S. government officials and the expert community to potential crises but also to generate practical policy options to lessen the likelihood of the contingency and to reduce the negative consequences should it occur. A summary memo of the resulting recommendations will be distributed to participants and important policymakers.
This series is made possible by the generous support of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
Director: Paul B. Stares, General John W. Vessey Senior Fellow for Conflict Prevention and Director of the Center for Preventive Action November 2007—Present
This series consists of quarterly events sponsored by the Center for Preventive Action, convenes experts from government, private sector, nongovernmental, and civil society to analyze weak or fragile regions and states at risk of conflict in the next two to five years and to devise approaches to work with practitioners to build early policy responses to address those situations.
Roundtable Meeting ⁄ Washington
What to Worry About in 2015
Jim Brooks, President & CEO for Americas, Control Risks, Mark L. Schneider, Senior Vice President, International Crisis Group, Paul B. Stares, General John W. Vessey Senior Fellow for Conflict Prevention and Director of the Center for Preventive Action, Council on Foreign Relations
Janine Davidson, Senior Fellow for Defense Policy, Council on Foreign Relations
Center for Preventive Action Symposium: The Future of Conflict Prevention - Session III
Nancy E. Soderberg, Senior Advisor, International Crisis Group, Donald K. Steinberg, Vice President for Multilateral Affairs, International Crisis Group, Stewart M. Patrick, Research Fellow, Center for Global Development, Paul B. Stares, Director, Center for Preventive Action, Council on Foreign Relations
2015 Conflict Prevention Priorities: Three Things to Know
Each year, CFR's Center for Preventive Action asks hundreds of foreign policy experts to rank the conflicts they feel might escalate next year and harm the interests of the United States. Paul Stares, the center's director, highlights three things to keep an eye on in "what promises to be another challenging and deadly year."