Preventive Action Update

March 1, 2010

Director's Note

This is the 1st issue of the Center for Preventive Action Newsletter, which will provide periodic updates of recent CPA publications, events, and other activities. Our recent efforts include Contingency Planning Meetings and Memoranda that help the policy community anticipate and prepare for potential crises, a multi-part series of studies to enhance U.S. preventive action, and a forthcoming Council Special Report titled "Somalia: A New Approach."  We are also updating our website to make it more of a resource for practitioners of preventive action. I hope that you find this newsletter useful, and will continue to take advantage of our various products.

Paul Stares

Director, Center for Preventive Action

New CPA Publications

Terrorism and Indo-Pakistani Escalation

by Daniel Markey

India faces the real prospect of another major terrorist attack by Pakistan-based terrorist organizations in the near future, an event that would jeopardize important U.S. security interests in South Asia. This Contingency Planning Memorandum examines the factors that would condition India’s response; the consequences of Indian military retaliation and Pakistani counterretaliation for the United States; and Washington’s policy options for preventing and containing the crisis. Markey argues that U.S. efforts to prevent an Indo-Pakistani crisis should combine a range of counterterror tactics with measures that increase Washington’s ability to limit escalation by either side.


Obama in Situation Room

Enhancing U.S. Preventive Action

by Paul Stares & Micah Zenko

In this Council Special Report, Paul Stares and Micah Zenko assess in detail current U.S. practices with regard to different types of preventive action, examining such topics as intelligence community analyses; “watchlists” of states at risk; interagency planning processes; foreign assistance programming; and the work of the State Department office created in 2004 to lead U.S. government efforts in this area. The report cites an array of shortcomings in how the government plans and conducts its preventive activities, a situation that can leave policymakers scrambling to respond to crises after they break out. To improve this, the authors recommend revising and strengthening the strategic planning process under the leadership of the National Security Council, improving and consolidating intelligence products and connecting them more closely to policymakers, and providing additional funding for preventive efforts.



An Israeli Strike on Iran

by Steven Simon

This Contingency Planning Memorandum assesses the likelihood of an Israeli strike on Iran, the policy options available to diminish that likelihood, the implications should it take place, and measures that can be taken to mitigate the consequences should it occur. The memo concludes that Israel is not eager to start a war with Iran, or disrupt its relations with the United States, but it will act if it perceives an imminent existential threat in the form of a nuclear Iran. Thus, American arguments for restraint must be backed by concrete measures to contain the perceived threat and affirmations of the special relationship.

Preventive Priorities Survey

In December 2009, the CPA polled CFR Fellows and other experts on what they thought the most pressing conflict prevention priorities will be in 2010. Read the survey results to find out which countries topped the list.


Featured Meeting: Lessons Learned By Non-Permanent Members of the UN Security Council


At a UN Roundtable on December 16, 2009, the permanent representatives of three outgoing non-permanent members of the UN Security Council met to discuss their experiences and lessons learned at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Pictured Here (L to R): Micah Zenko; Ambassador Ranko Vilovic, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Croatia to the UN; Ambassador Jorge Urbina, Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the UN; Ambassador Le Luong Minh, Permanent Representative of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam to the UN