Sunday Notes

Containment May Be Best Option For US In Syria
Washington should focus on more than just the Islamic State. It should also work to contain the violence in Iraq and Syria to prevent it from spilling over into the wider Middle East.

The Balkans, Somalia, and the Congo are just a few of the examples of civil wars which spilled over into neighboring states since the end of the Cold War – and none of those are in the Middle East, which has long been a region in which conflicts have spread beyond borders.

“As political Islam has risen in influence, a shared sense of religious identity has become another source of unity that crosses borders. Sectarianism is an important part of the conflicts, and this has agitated both Sunnis and Shias around the Muslim world. Neighboring states have responded to popular anger along sectarian lines—and have exploited sectarianism to deflect domestic tension,” writes David Bynan in The National Interest.

The unfortunately reality is that possibly the best way to prevent small wars from becoming bigger wars is to adopt a policy of containment, a posture that rarely solves the current problem. Although it might prevent new ones from arising, particularly true of Syria.

Book Review: David Milne’s Worldmaking
In “Worldmaking: The Art and Science of American Diplomacy,” British historian David Milne tells the story of the hundred or so years when a sequence of public intellectuals shaped the discussion of the theory and practice of foreign affairs – a seemingly dry subject that is handled deftly by the author, says The Washington Post’s Rosa Brooks.

In his book, Milne “offers up detailed and often surprisingly moving portraits of nine prominent American foreign policy thinkers, from Alfred Thayer Mahan and George Kennan to Henry Kissinger and, finally, Barack Obama” that are rich in detail, contextualizing its subject’s understanding of America’s role in the world.”

Brooks speaks positively of the book while recognizing its failings – all of the individuals examined are men and there is hardly a mention of Margaret Thatcher, Jeanne Kirkpatrick Madeline Albright or Condoleeza Rice.

What Can Be Achieved At Paris Climate Conference?
President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin will be two of the many world leaders attending this month’s climate conference in Paris – and all come with differing promises on how and how far to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Rob Bailey of Britain’s Chatham House examines the prospects of any real, substantive progress being made by the participants.  

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