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Council on Foreign Relations Preventive Action Update
November 2011

Dear Colleague:

In the first months of fall, the Center for Preventive Action (CPA) published a Council Special Report, hosted workshops on African peacebuilding and Asian security, and continued its highly acclaimed Contingency Planning Memorandum series. However, as conflicts continue to develop and escalate throughout the world, much work remains to be done. To learn more about CPA efforts to enhance international infrastructure on conflict prevention, we welcome you to read through our newsletter and explore our website.

Paul B. Stares
General John W. Vessey Senior Fellow for Conflict Prevention and Director of the Center for Preventive Action


Recent Publications

Partners in Preventive Action

Paul B. Stares, Micah Zenko

In this increasingly globalized and interconnected world, countries need to cooperate on policies that extend across borders to address issues that affect them all, including conflict prevention and peacebuilding. In this Council Special Report, the authors assess the strengths and weaknesses of international institutions and provide a set of practical recommendations for how the United States can strengthen the global architecture for preventive action by partnering with those organizations. Read more »

Managing Instability on China’s Periphery

Paul B. Stares, Scott A. Snyder, Joshua Kurlantzick, Daniel Markey, Evan A. Feigenbaum

The growing global engagement and presence of China has increased the number of conceivable places and issues over which it could find itself at odds with the United States, although potential developments in the territories immediately adjacent to China remain the most likely—and the most worrisome—sources of friction. In this series, CFR fellows identify crisis triggers, analyze where U.S. and Chinese interests converge and diverge, and present policy options for preventing such crises and mitigating the consequences. Read more »

Engaging with Nonstate Armed Groups

Payton L. Knopf

Both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations have sought to broaden the mission of the State Department beyond traditional state-to-state diplomacy, although little work has been done to prepare U.S. diplomats for working with nonstate armed groups that pose a demonstrated threat to national security. In this Working Paper, the author recommends developing innovative diplomatic strategies for engaging with groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Taliban and calls on the State Department to develop clear guidelines for such outreach. Read more »

Weighing American Options in Syria

Elliott Abrams

With each passing month, the level of violence in Syria rises. A full-scale civil war, with Bashar al-Assad's regime fighting against an armed rebellion by opposition forces, seems increasingly plausible. In this Policy Innovation Memo, Elliott Abrams argues for a dual strategy to weaken the regime and encourage protestors. Read more »

Micah Zenko: "Politics, Power, and Preventive Action"

In his blog, Micah Zenko covers the U.S. national security debate and offers insight on developments in international security and conflict prevention.

Join the discussion at or follow him on Twitter.

CPA in the News

Did Qaddafi's End Justify the Means?
In a roundtable debate on, Zenko argues that advocates of the Responsibility to Protect may be inadvertently encouraging proliferation.

What We Really Mean by a Syrian No-Fly Zone
In the Atlantic, Zenko clarifies the operational requirements of imposing a no-fly zone and urges caution before following the Libyan example in Syria.

The Danger of Space Debris
Zenko explains why space debris poses a classic global governance dilemma on

NPR: "Uganda Mission Part of Military's Wide Reach"

New York Times: "For Obama, Some Vindication of Approach to War"

New York Times: "Coming Soon: A Drone Arms Race"

Los Angeles Times: "Awlaki Death Rekindles Legal Debate on Targeting Americans"



The Center for Preventive Action (CPA) seeks to help prevent, defuse, or resolve deadly conflicts around the world and to expand the body of knowledge on conflict prevention.

Paul B. Stares
CPA Director, General John W. Vessey
Senior Fellow for Conflict Prevention

Micah Zenko
Senior Fellow

Helia Ighani
Assistant Director

Sarah Collman
Research Associate

James West
Research Associate

Amelia M. Wolf
Research Associate


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