Differentiated Containment

U.S. Policy Toward Iran and Iraq

Task Force Report
Analysis and policy prescriptions of major foreign policy issues facing the United States, developed through private deliberations among a diverse and distinguished group of experts.

Since World War II, the United States has identified the security and stability of the Gulf region as a vital national interest. This publication presents two documents. The first, Differentiated Containment: U.S. Policy Toward Iran and Iraq, is the report of the Cochairs of an Independent Task Force sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations. The report, by Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft, serves as the Statement of the Task Force and also appeared in the May/June 1997 issue of Foreign Affairs. The second document, Gulf Stability and Security and Its Implications for U.S. Foreign Policy, contains the Statement and Recommendations of an Independent Study Group also sponsored by the Council. As defined in these two documents, the Gulf region includesIran, Iraq, and the members states of the Gulf Cooperation Council--Bahrain,Kuwait, Oman,Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and theUnited Arab Emirates.

The Task Force met four times in 1996-97. Its Co-Chairs traveled to the region in March 1997 to make their first-hand review of the situation. The Study Group met seven times in 1996, and its deliberations were summarized in a report drafted by Dr. Shibley Telhami of Cornell University. Neither group achieved a full consensus on how the United States might better assist in maintaining Gulf security and stability, and some significant dissenting opinions have been noted. The groups' reports provide a number of recommendations for Washington's consideration that we hope will receive serious attention.

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For those interested in examining the context of current U.S.policy toward the Gulf, the Background Materials section of this publication provides a variety of primary sources. They include official documents and statements of the U.N. Security Council and the U.S. government; a Foreign Affairs article by Anthony Lake, assistant to the president for national security affairs from 1993 to 1997; an article on Iran by an Israeli defense analyst; a press interview with the German foreign minister concerning the German court verdict in the so-called Mykonos case; excerpts from the March 1997 communique, of the foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council; and a summary of a recent conference on Gulf security held in Abu Dhabi.

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Politics and Government

Task Force Members


ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI, Co-Chair of the Task Force, is Counselor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Professor of American Foreign Policy at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Dr. Brzezinski was the National Security Advisor to President Carter.

BRENT SCOWCROFT, Co-Chair of the Task Force, is President of the Scowcroft Group and the Founder and President of the Forum for International Policy. He was the National Security Advisor to Presidents Ford and Bush.

JOSEPH P. HOAR is President of J.P. Hoar and Associates and was the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Central Command. He is also the Chairman of the Middle East Forum of the Council on Foreign Relations.

PHEBE A. MARR (is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University. She is a scholar of the modern history of Iraq and Gulf politics.

RICHARD W. MURPHY is the Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for the Middle East at the Council on Foreign Relations. He was the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs from 1983 to 1989.

WILLIAM B. QUANDT is the Byrd Professor of Government and Foreign Affairs at the University of Virginia. He served on the National Security Council staff in the Nixon and Carter administrations with responsibility for the Middle East.

JAMES SCHLESINGER is Counselor, Center for Strategic and International Studies. He has served as Secretary of Defense, Secretary of Energy, and Director of Central Intelligence.

SHIBLEY TELHAMI is Associate Professor of Government and Director of the Program for Contemporary Near Eastern Studies at Cornell University. He is also a Non- Resident Fellow at the Brookings Institution.

ROBIN WRIGHT is the author of two books on Iran and is a former Mideast correspondent for The Sunday Times of London. She now covers global trends for The Los Angeles Times.

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