A Renewed, Sophisticated Containment Policy: Mastering & Constraining War & Violent Conflict in World Society

Andreas Herberg-Rothe – Dr. habil. Andreas Herberg-Rothe is a permanent lecturer at the Faculty of Social and Cultural Studies at the University of Applied Sciences, Fulda.

Preventing Iran from attaining nuclear weapons contravenes a particular understanding of containment. However, a renewed and sophisticated containment policy understood as mastering and constraining great wars and mass violence, including combating the spread of WMD and the escalation of violent conflicts, should be the overarching political aim of the international community. The strategy of containment was successfully applied against the USSR and eventually led to the demise of that superpower. The question then arises how to adjust containment policy to make it an applicable and appropriate strategy for this globalized world.

US President Obama has argued that traditional containment is not a reasonable policy towards Iran.1 He emphasized that his policy is one of preventing Iran from producing a nuclear weapon, not merely containing a nuclear Iran. But in fact, by encircling China the US is pursuing a policy of traditional containment against the upcoming hegemonic power in East Asia. As the questioning of Chuck Hagel during his confirmation hearing showed, there are still some ambiguities worth mentioning concerning the strategy of the US government.2 Perhaps these ambiguities could be systematically justified. From a different point of view, preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon is nothing less than part of a renewed and sophisticated containment policy: the containment of the spread of weapons of mass destruction and especially nuclear bombs. Only on the basis of such a renewed containment policy, which is aimed at containing great wars, mass violence that has the same effect on societies as cancer on the human body, and weapons of mass destruction, can one reasonably deny Iran the acquisition of a nuclear bomb. As the hearings of Chuck Hagel also showed, one cannot deny Iran the rights of a member of the United Nations. But from the point of view of a renewed containment policy, it can be argued that it is necessary to prevent any additional state from acquiring nuclear weapons. The thesis in this article, therefore, is that preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon is only in conflict with a particular understanding of containment. But a renewed and sophisticated containment policy understood as mastering and constraining great wars and mass violence, including combating the spread of WMD and the escalation of violent conflicts, should be the overarching political aim of the international community.

It must be recalled that the strategy of containment was successfully applied against the USSR and eventually led to the demise of that superpower. The question then arises how to adjust containment policy to make it an applicable and appropriate strategy for this globalized world. We are witnessing a worldwide escalation of war and violence, which should be countered by a new containment policy, just as George Kennan emphasized as early as 1987: “And for these reasons we are going to have to develop a wider concept of what containment means… a concept, in other words, more responsive to the problems of our own time…than the one I so light-heartedly brought to expression, hacking away at my typewriter there in the northwest corner of the War College building in December of 1946.”3 Sixty years have already passed since George Kennan formulated his original vision of containment. Although his original concept would be altered in application by various administrations of the US government, in practice it has been incorporated within the concept and politics of common security, which has been the essential complement to pure military containment.4 These ideas are still valid – and as Kennan himself already pointed out, they are more in need of explication and implementation than ever. Although Kennan could not foresee them, the developments in Iraq and Afghanistan have underscored the validity of his statement, demonstrating that the aim of gaining victory over one’s opponent in a traditional manner is no longer applicable in a globalized world. Instead of such strategies of the past, we need one that focuses on transforming military achievements and success into a lasting political order.

This renewed containment policy is essentially not only a double strategy, but a “pentagon” of five interconnected strategies. The overall political perspective on which the concept of containing war and violence in world society rests, consists of the following elements of what can be called the “pentagon for containing war and violence”:

  1. The ability to deter and discourage any opponent from fighting a large scale war and, as a last resort, to conduct pinpoint military action;
  2. The possibility of using and threatening5 military force in order to limit and contain particularly excessive, large scale violence which has the potential to destroy societies;
  3. The willingness to counter phenomena that incite or fuel violence, such as poverty and oppression, especially in the economic sphere, and the recognition of a pluralism of cultures and styles of life in world society;
  4. The motivation to develop a culture of civil conflict management (concepts that can be summed up with the “civilizational hexagon”6), global governance, and democratic peace), based on the observation that the reduction of our action to military means has proved counterproductive and will ultimately overstretch military capabilities; and
  5. The restriction on the possession and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, as well as small arms, because the proliferation of both categories of weapons is inherently destructive to social order.

The Escalation of Violence and a New Containment Policy

The triumphant advance of democracy and free markets in the wake of the Soviet collapse once seemed unstoppable, to the point that it appeared for a time as if the twenty-first century would be an age defined by economics and thus, to a great extent, peace. However, these expectations were soon dashed, not only because of ongoing massacres and genocide in Sub- Saharan Africa, but also by the return of war to Europe (primarily in the former Yugoslavia), the attacks of September 11, 2001 in the US, and the Iraq war with its ongoing, violent consequences. A struggle against a new totalitarianism of an Islamic type appears to have emerged, one in which war and violence are commonly perceived as having an unavoidable role. This violence is also perceived as having become more “unbounded” than ever before – in both a spatial sense, for terrorist attacks are potentially ever-present, and a temporal sense, as no end to these attacks is in sight. One can also speak of a new dimension to violence with respect to its extent and brutality, as exemplified by the extreme violence of the ongoing civil wars in Africa. Additionally, we are facing completely new types of threats, such as the possession of weapons of mass destruction by terrorist organizations and the development of atomic bombs by “problematic” states like Iran and North Korea. The potential emergence of a new superpower, China, and perhaps of new “great” powers like India, may lead to a new arms race, presumably with a nuclear dimension as well. In the consciousness of many, violence appears to be slipping through the leash of rational control, an image the media has not hesitated to foster, especially with respect to Sub-Saharan Africa.

Sincethe 1990svariousinfluentialauthorshavearguedthat Clausewitz’s theory of war is no longer applicable, neither in relation to contemporary conflicts nor in general. Some have suggested that it is harmful and even self-destructive to continue to use this theory as the basis for understanding current warfare and as a guide to political action, given the revolutionary changes in war and violent action taking place throughout the world. Clausewitz, it is proposed, was concerned only with war between states employing regular armies, whereas conflict today mainly involves non-state actors. Both claims are overstatements, however, with respect to the core of Clausewitz’s theory as well as the unique characteristics of today’s “new wars.” With the exception of much of Africa and some very old conflicts at the fringes of the former empires, existing states, alongside hierarchically organized political-religious groups like Hizbollah and Hamas, are still the decisive, if no longer the sole, actors in war. Will there be “another bloody century,” as Colin Gray has proposed?7

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan taught us the terrible lesson that in a globalized world winning a campaign does not necessary imply winning the war. According to Emile Simpson, the key point is that winning the war in a military manner means winning it in relation to the enemy, but increasingly now, audiences other than the enemy matter, and the narrative needs to address what they think as well as what the enemy and one’s own side thinks. If the strategic narrative of the battle space in thetwenty-first century is not only about winning the war in a merely military manner, then what is it about?8 I would like to propose three different yet interconnected topics: the legitimacy of using force, the conduct during war, and the mutual recognition of the fighting communities after the war. Before explaining this conceptualization in more detail, for purposes of clarity I will describe its basic ideas. The proposition stems firstly from my interpretation of Clausewitz’s trinity, which is quite different from the so-called Trinitarian War. The latter is not a concept directly attributable to Clausewitz but, rather, an argument posed by Harry Summers, Martin van Creveld, and Mary Kaldor.9 In my view, each war is composed of three aspects in differing combinations: the application of force, the struggle or fight of the armed forces, and the fighting community to which the warring forces belong. One can easily relate the legitimacy of using force, the conduct of war, and the mutual recognition of the fighting forces after the war to these three aspects of my interpretation of Clausewitz.

The second basic idea underlying my approach is related to the just war tradition, but not in the way that it was integrated into the doctrine of Responsibility to Protect (R2P), for example. In the just war tradition it is customary to differentiate among jus ad bellum, jus in bello, and jus post bellum. These three Latin terms may be characterized respectively as the right to wage a just war, the maintenance of rights and justice during war, and the orientation of warfare toward a just peace after the war. My thesis is that in a globalized world these three narratives are closely intertwined. The two most important European traditions grasping the meaning of war, namely, the notion of a just war and the notion of the right in war in the case of state-to-state wars, contributed initially to a tremendous limitation on violence.

Following the latter tradition, the acknowledgement of the foe as an equal with the same rights was the precondition for limiting the war after the disaster of the Thirty Years War, according to Carl Schmitt. Both conceptions succeeded in limiting warlike violence between European opponents at first. Yet at times the irregular methods of using force were simply pushed to the margins of the European world. During the crusades of the Middle Ages and in the course of colonial conquest from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries, non-European opponents were not merely fought but often downright annihilated. In both cases, the regular and bounded intra-European ways of employing force, which were practiced in the beginning of both eras, eventually ended in disaster.

The idea of a just war, which contributed to a limitation on war and violence for long periods during the Middles Ages, ultimately resulted in the religious battles of the sixteenth century and the Thirty Years War. The European style of state-to-state war in the “Westphalian Area,” which was based upon a right to war between equal opponents and which in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries led to a significant limitation on violence during war, resulted in the catastrophe of two world wars. One should not idealize the model of a limited European state-to-state war in reference to the forms they took at their origin in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, because this same model (together with the industrialization of war and new nationalistic and totalitarian ideologies) ultimately resulted in the two world wars. Similarly, there are no grounds for dismissing the notion of the just war tradition simply in view of the religious wars and the Thirty Years War. Rather, the curbing and protecting effects of war during long periods of the Middle Ages should be borne in mind.

The teaching of just war should not promote military violence, but rather hinder it or at least help to limit it. It is appropriately understood only against the background of fundamental reservations against war for the purpose of peace. That is, the threat and employment of military violence can only be justified conditionally – as instruments for preventing, limiting, and moderating violence. Despite this ideal definition of just war, three fundamental problems of this conception have appeared in the course of history: the unleashing of violence through the notion that the war is just, the stigmatization of the opponent as a criminal, and the restriction of one’s own possible actions to violent measures because of the immediate connection between morality and politics.

I am not completely sure about the following proposition; it is more of a trial balloon. The notion of a just peace after the war is by no means free of problems. For example, the Nazis sought perfect harmony within German society and therefore excluded all those who seemed to them to disturb the concept of the perfect harmony of a unified German nation through the creation of a homogenous race. Perhaps this criticism of the notion of a just peace is not very convincing at first, but it is embedded in the problem of every strategy – whether the ends in war sanctify the means

applied. In order to avoid these problems by pursuing only one of these three concepts, it is necessary to conceive of the containment of war and violence as an overarching political aim embedded in the various actions of national and international communities. Containment of war and violent conflict is based on the maintenance of a balance of all three tendencies. During the past twenty years, we have witnessed the promises of the revolution in military affairs (RMA) and the appearance of seemingly new kinds of warfare, the so-called new wars. The RMA promised to present meaningful technological solutions to conflicts. Warfare and “military operations other than war” seemed to be legitimate if they easily led to victory. The costs would remain limited and the adversary could be presented as an outlaw of the international community in a classical view, as a dictator or warlord who would receive no support from the majority of the populace. All three propositions proved fatally wrong in Afghanistan and Iraq. For a brief moment, this understanding of the current battle space was revived in the campaign against Libya and the interpretation of the Arab Spring through Western eyes, which customarily view communities as composed of individuals, whereas in most parts of the world society is viewed as a community of communities. The conflict in Syria is reburying this technical world view.

Containing war, violent conflict, and mass violence does not necessarily mean conducting only limited warfare, but also setting limits on the escalation of violence in actual conflicts. This becomes more important with the more technical opportunities that are to be expected in warfare of the twenty-first century. To put it bluntly, the evolving battle space of the twenty-first century is about ethics and the morality of using force, its legitimacy. The more we develop technical opportunities in warfare, the more the morality of its use comes to the fore.

Let us consider an example. The US military places great emphasis on developing robotic warfare and warfare that could be conducted by artificial intelligence. Of course at first sight this development seems to be an ingenious way of saving humans from the outcomes of warfare. And in fact it is ingenious when used in defense against criminals and barbarians. Yet what if the opponent is no criminal or barbarian, but an innocent civilian? The moral problem is obvious, is it not? What are the implications of a robot equipped with artificial intelligence killing human beings? This problem leads us to the second topic, the conduct of warfare.

We can witness the importance of jus in bello in the current Syrian crisis. What makes weapons of mass destruction a particularly salient topic in light of the distinction between combatants and non-combatants? Recent events in Syria indicate the unjust and unfair consequences of the use of these weapons. This sentiment against unjust conduct in war is deeply embedded in the history of warfare as well as human consciousness. During the past twenty years, the concept of asymmetrical warfare has gained momentum. It has been used to describe the apparently new wars, which could be characterized according to Herfried Münkler as entailing asymmetry of weakness.10 The weaker side turns to asymmetrical forms of warfare precisely because of its weakness in fighting a regular form of warfare.

Terrorism, partisan warfare, and attacking the populace of the adversary are typical examples of such asymmetrical warfare. But there is another kind of asymmetrical warfare, in which the superior side seeks to conduct warfare in such a way that the opponent does not stand a chance. This attempt to gain an asymmetrical advantage is at the core of the RMA debate. It is astonishing that the inherent connections between these two types of asymmetrical warfare are not, to the best of my knowledge, discussed as openly as they deserve to be. The prevalent view seems to be to give one’s opponent no chance in warfare, in order to force him not to wage a war at all or to abandon the fight if he does. But there is another possibility for the weaker adversary: to turn to asymmetric warfare. The problem then arises that the more one gains an asymmetrical advantage over the opponent based on technical strength, which is perceived as unjust and unfair by the opponent, the more the latter will turn to the asymmetrical warfare that is typical of the weaker side, such as terrorism or partisan war.

This brings us to the last of my three propositions, the recognition of the warring parties after the war in order to bring about a just peace. Of course it is hard if not impossible to recognize criminals, terrorists, warlords, drug dealers, religious hard-liners, war criminals, or gangsters and mobsters as equal and legitimate combatants. These actors have only been prevalent in the last decade of the past century. We can still witness such privatized conflicts in most parts of Sub-Saharan Africa and at the fringes of the former empires. Most conflicts in today’s world, however, are political in essence, and thus the above characterization of the actors involved does not apply to the overall trend these days. In this context, I am a Clausewitz scholar and adhere completely to his proposition that “The escalation in war would be endless if the calculation in the meaning of strategy would be ‘uninfluenced by any previous estimate of the political situation it would bring about.’”11

Hence my conclusion is that we need a renewed strategy of containment, which must be different from that of the Cold War but based on some similar principles. In contrast to the Cold War era, today there is no longer an exclusive actor to be contained, as the Soviet Union was. Even if one were to anticipate China’s emergence as a new superpower in the next twenty years, it would not be reasonable, in advance of this actually happening, to develop a strategy of military containment against China similar to that against the Soviet Union in the 1950s and 1960s, as doing so might well provoke the type of crises and conflicts that such a strategy was intended to avoid.12

The second difference is that current developments in the strategic environment display fundamentally conflicting tendencies: between globalization and struggles over identities, locational advantages, and interests;13 between high-tech wars and combat with knives and machetes or suicide bombers; between symmetrical and asymmetrical warfare; between the privatization of war and violence14 and their re-politicization and re-ideologization, as well as wars over “world order”;15 between the formation of new regional power centers and the imperial-hegemonic dominance of the only superpower; between international organized crime and the institutionalization of regional and global institutions and communities; and between increasing violations of international law and human rights on the one hand and their expansion on the other. A strategy designed to counter only one of these conflicting tendencies may be problematic with respect to the others. I therefore stress the necessity of striking a balance among competing possibilities.

The third difference is that the traditional containment was perceived mainly as military deterrence of the Soviet Union, although in its original formulationby George Kennanitwasquitedifferentfromsuchareductionist approach. Our main and decisive assumption is that a new containment policy must combine traditional, military containment on the one hand with a range of opportunities for cooperation on the other. This is necessary not only with respect to China, but also to political Islam, in order to reduce the appeal of militant Islamic movements to millions of Muslim youth.

The idea of curbing war and violence in world society implies the expansion of non-military zones to which the Kantian conception of democratic peace applies, as well as the active containment and limitation of the expansion of war and violence. Such an overarching perspective has to be self-evident, little more than common sense, because it has to be accepted by quite different political leaders and peoples. The self- evidence of this concept could be so accepted that one might ask why we are discussing it. At the same time, such a concept must be distinguishable from competing concepts. It should also be regarded as an appropriate concept to counter contemporary developments. Finally it should to some extent only be an expression of what the international community is already doing anyway. “Other states are instrumental in interrupting the flow of finances from one institution to another, in restricting the movements of terrorists, in eliminating their save havens, in tracking down and arresting their principal leaders and in driving a wedge between the terrorist groups and the various populations they purport to champion.”16 What strategy are these states already pursuing? Nothing other than a strategy of containment!

The question of course remains of how to deter the true believers, members of terrorist networks or people like the former president of Iran, for whom even self-destruction might be a means of hastening millenarian goals. Of course, the true-believers or “hard-core” terrorists can hardly be deterred. But this is precisely the reason why containment should not be reduced to a strategy of deterrence. The real task even in these cases, therefore, is to act politically and militarily, in a manner that would enable separating the true believers from the mere believers and the latter from the followers. This strategy can include military actions and credible threats, but at the same time it should be based on a dual strategy of offering a choice between alternatives, whereas the resort to military means would only intensify violent resistance. Additionally, even true believers could be presented with the choice of either exclusion from their social and religious environment or reduction of their millenarian aspirations (and continued acceptance).

Of course in following this strategy there is no guarantee that every terrorist attack could be averted, but this is not the real question. Assuming that the goal of the millenarian Islamists is to provoke an over-reaction of the West in order to ignite an all-out war between the West and the Islamicworld, there is no choice other than trying to separate them from their political, social, and religious environment.

Competing Concepts

The function of this conception can be clarified through the example of democratization. The limitation of war and violence lays the foundations of democracy. If the single counter-strategy to the proliferation of violence were a general, worldwide democratization – in the sense of implementing democratic elections, a necessary but not sufficient precondition of establishing real democratic societies – implemented (as would be necessary) through force, this would almost certainly lead to counterproductive results. This is particularly clear in those cases where fully developed constitutional democracies are not yet present, but states and societies are undergoing the initial process of transformation. It is more justifiable to speak of the antinomies of democratic peace in the latter cases than when referring to developed democracies.

Thus it is possible that a one-sided demand for democratic processes without regard to local conditions in individual cases might even contribute to the creation of totalitarian movements. The historical experience that corresponds to the change from democratic to totalitarian processes is embodied in developments during and after World War I. In nearly all of the defeated states there was initially a process of democratization, including, in some cases, democratic revolutions. Yet almost all ended in dictatorships. In Eastern Europe and the Balkans, the “right of national self-determination” proclaimed by US President Wilson was interpreted in a nationalist rather than democratic way, so that it entailed the exclusion of entire populations and even the first genocide of the twentieth century, committed against the Armenians, which already began during World War I.17

The so-called Arab Spring seemed at first to be a reversal of this development. But the current developments in Egypt, Syria, and Libya amplify the tendency described above, as all three are shaken by some form of civil war and are on their way to becoming failed states. Clearly, this situation does not exclude the possibility that the processes of democratization promoted from the outside might involve the use of violence. Historically speaking, one must remember that after World War II there were a number of democratization processes following militarily disastrous defeats, for instance in Germany and Japan, and later in Serbia after the Kosovo war. From the overarching perspective of the containment of war and violence, however, it can be reasonable in particular cases to renounce democratization in favor of disarmament.

The central approach developed here, in contrast to other theoretical conceptionsofpeace, canbedescribedasfollows: conceptionsofdemocratic peace following Kant, those belonging to theories of equilibrium, and conceptions of hegemony and empire have all been used to bring about a limitation on war and violence in world society. But these means have often become ends in themselves. In my approach, the containment of war and violence itself becomes the overarching aim of political and communal action. Proceeding from this political aim, one can then judge which goal and which action are the most appropriate.

The Re-Ideologization and Re-Politicization of War

One can point to developments in Afghanistan as an example of the re- ideologization and re-politicization of war and violent conflict. After the victory over the Soviet army, a civil war between warlords and tribes began at the end of the 1980s. The conflict was re-ideologized, and the Taliban seized power. We see from this example that civil wars do not always become increasingly privatized until the smallest possible communities wield Kalashnikovs – communities that are only held together by the violence itself – and the fighting becomes independent of any purpose.18 There have also been a number of cases in which civil wars have been ended by re-ideologization and re-politicization. Afghanistan is a good example because it illustrates the new quality of privatization of war and violence, and at the same time it reveals very clearly the re-ideologization and re-politicization of the conflict with the rise and eventual victory of the Taliban. Claiming that the privatization of the war in Afghanistan proves the emergence and nature of the new wars in general therefore leads to a paradox if the claim has to be restricted to the period up until the Taliban victory in 1996. This case, therefore, cannot be used to demonstrate a general shift towards the privatization of war. In fact, what it shows is that this development, though genuine, lasted for only a limited period (at least in this case). A new phase, the phase of world order wars, began in 1996. One can supplement the periodization I am proposing by adding a geographical-hierarchical classification of the two phases. The privatization

of violence can be observed in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa and in traditional conflict regions such as the Balkans and the Caucasus. The development of world order conflicts can be seen in the conflict between the West and militant Islam, and in the future it can be anticipated in relations with China and, perhaps, with Russia. It follows that events are moving away from the level of interstate war and conflicts in two directions simultaneously: downwards towards privatized war, and upwards towards supra-state war, world order wars. This distinction is more fundamental than the attempt to distinguish between privatized, “new” wars and those fragmented wars arising in the course of globalization, and the attempt to use this distinction as a way of challenging the legitimacy of the first set of concepts.19 War that is waged to promote values20 and as a way of ordering the world (whether this order is conceived as universal or particular) is quite different from privatized and fragmented wars. In practice, of course, these two levels are interlinked with one another and also with inter-state wars, but the analytic distinction is a significant one. States do still wage wars; however, for the most part they now do so not in pursuit of their particular interests but for reasons related to world order, as can be seen in the use of concepts like US empire21 and American hegemony.

Processes such as the technological, economic, and communicational saturation of the world intensify this dual movement dramatically because they often link spaces of action directly with one another. During the civil war in Somalia, for example, bands of fighters could be seen using computers to buy and sell their Wall Street shares. The decisive factor, though, is the contradictory dual movement towards the privatization of violence and simultaneously towards existing, as well as future, world order wars and conflicts that can be either global or regional. Although it may not at first glance appear to do so, globalization does in fact re- politicize conflicts about world order.22

The Concept of Containment and Contemporary Warfare

The advantage of my concept can be further demonstrated by considering the nature of the end state for which the war on terror should be fought: trying to find terrorists and rooting all of them out, as Donald Rumsfeld stated?23 Another question is how to fight organizations, which are not hierarchically structured, but as often noted, function like networks?

I conclude that the goal of the war on terror should not be to gain victory, because no one can explain what victory would mean with regard to this type of war. Moreover, trying to gain a decisive victory over terrorists would result in the production of more of them. An additional problem is not only how we ourselves conceive of the concept of victory, but even more important, how low-tech enemies (for example) define victory and defeat. This is an exercise that requires cultural and historical knowledge much more than impressive technology.24 Instead, one could argue, the goal is containment of terror, which is of course quite different from appeasement. An essential limitation of the dangers posed by terrorist organizations could be based on three aspects: first, a struggle of political ideas for the hearts and minds of the millions of young people; second, an attempt to curb the exchanges of knowledge, financial support, and communication among the various networks, with the aim of isolating them on a local level; and finally, but only as one of these three tasks, to destroy what the Israelis call the terrorist infrastructure. In my understanding, trying to achieve victory in a traditional military manner would not only fail, but would perhaps greatly increase terrorism in the foreseeable future.

The concept of the center of gravity in warfare provides another illustration of the way in which my conception makes a difference. Clausewitz defines war as an act of violence to compel our enemy to do our will. This definition suits our understanding of war between equal opponents, between opponents in which one side does not seek to annihilate the other or his political, ethnic, or tribal body. But in conflicts between opponents with different cultures or ethnic backgrounds, the imposition of one’s will on the other is often perceived as an attempt to annihilate the other’s community and identity. Hence, for democratic societies, the only alternative is to perceive war as an act of violence in which, rather than compelling our own will on the opponent, our opponent is rendered unable to pursue his own will violently, unable to use his full power to impose his will on us or others. Consequently the abilities of his power must be limited, such that he is no longer able to threaten or fight us in order to compel us to do his will.

The purpose of containing war and violence, therefore, is to remove from the belligerent adversary his physical and moral freedom of action, but without attacking the sources of his power and the order of his society. The key to mastering violence in this sense is to control certain operational domains, territory, mass movement, and armaments, as well as information and humanitarian operations. But this task of mastering violence should no longer be perceived as being directed against the center of gravity, but rather towards the gravitational field lines. Instead of increasing the imposition of one’s own will on the adversary up to the point of controlling his mind, as the protagonists of Strategic Information Warfare put it,25 the only way of ending conflict in the globalized twenty-first century is by containing the escalation of war and violence while simultaneously providing space for action within these boundaries.

The position I have put forward is oriented towards a basically peaceful global policy and treats the progressive limitation of war and violence as both an indefinite, ongoing process and an end it itself. The lasting and progressive containment of war and violence in world society is therefore necessary for the self-preservation, and even survival, of states and of the civility of individual societies and world society.


1        A previous version of this paper was published as “A New Containment- Policy: The Curbing of War and Violent Conflict in World Society,” S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore, May 2, 2013.

2        See Tim Mark, “Chuck Hagel Stumbles on Iran Questioning,” Politico, January 31, 2013, http://www.politico.com/story/2013/01/chuck-hagel- stumbles-on-iran-question-87001.html.

3        George, F. Kennan, “Containment: 40 Years Later,” in Containment: Concept and Policy, eds. Terry L. Deibel and John Lewis Gaddis (Washington: National Defense University Press, 1986), pp. 23-31.

4        Charles W. Kegley, Jr. “The New Containment Myth: Realism and the Anomaly of European Integration,” Ethics & International Affairs 5 (1991): 99- 115.

5        See Nathan K. Finney, “Using the Threat of Violence to Contain Syria: An External Approach,” Infinity 3 (Summer 2013): 13-16.

6        Dieter Senghaas, On Perpetual Peace: A Timely Assessment (New York: Berghahn Books, 2007).

7        Colin S. Gray, Another Bloody Century: Future Warfare (London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 2005), p.9.

8        Emile Simpson, War from the Ground Up (London: Hurst Publishers, 2012).

9        Andreas Herberg-Rothe, Clausewitz’s Puzzle: The Political Theory of War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007). The following is taken from Andreas Herberg-Rothe, “The Evolving Battle Space of the Twenty-First Century,” Lecture at Nanyang University, Singapore, September 19, 2013.

10    Herman Münkler, The New Wars (New York: Polity Press, 2004).

11    Carl con Cluasewitz, On War (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984), p. 78.

12    See, for example, “US Denies New Containment Policy against  China,” People’s Daily Online, http://english.people.com.cn/200511/24/ eng20051124_223692.html, November 24, 2005.

13    Zygmunt Bauman has labelled these contrasting tendencies as “Glocalisation,” meaning a combination of “Globalisation” and “Localisation.” Zygmunt Bauman, “Glokalisierung oder: Was für die einen Globalisierung, ist für die anderen Lokalisierung,“ Das Argument 217 (1996): 653-664; Zygmunt Bauman, Globalization (London: Polity Press, 1998) (German).

14    Münkler, The New Wars; Mary Kaldor, New and Old Wars: Organized Violence in a Global Era (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999).

15    I have put forward the thesis that after the breakdown of an empire, after a demise of a system of world order, there has nearly always been a tendency towards a privatization of war and violence, to a level beneath that of the previous situation, as happened after the fall of the Soviet Union and the bipolar order of the Cold War. But in the long run, in my estimation, the importance of politics and ideology even increases; see Andreas Herberg- Rothe, “Privatized Wars and World Order Conflicts,” Theoria 53, no. 110 (2006): 1-22.

16    Antulio Echevarria, Fourth-Generation Warfare and Other Myths (Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, 2005), pp. 5-6.

17    Dan Diner, Das Jahrhundert verstehen, (Frankfurt: Fischer, 2000) (German).

18    This image symbolizes the “new wars” discourse better than any other, and also symbolizes Thomas Hobbes’s war of all against all.

19    Sven Chojnacki, “Wandel der Kriegsformen – Ein Kritischer Literaturbericht,” Leviathan, 32, no. 3 (2004): 402-24.

20    Hans Joas 2000, Kriege und Werte: Studien zur Gewaltgeschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts (Weilerswist: Velbert, 2000.

21    Michael Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations(New York: Basic Books, 2000); Michael Walzer, “Die Politik der Rettung” Berliner Debatte Initial 6, 1995, pp. 47-54.

22    Antulio Echevarria, “Globalization and the Clausewitzian Nature of War,” The European Legacy 8, no. 3 (2003): 317-32.

23    nterview with Donald Rumsfeld, “You Can Only Defend by Finding Terrorists and Rooting Them Out,” The Daily Telegraph, February 25, 2002.

24    Robert D Kaplan, “The Story of a War,” Atlantic Monthly, November 2003.

25    David Lonsdale, The Nature of War in the Information Age: Clausewitzian Future

(London: Frank Cass, 2004), p. 208.