The New Containment Handling Russia, China, and Iran

The New Containment Handling Russia, China, and Iran {
AP Photo/Bullit Marquez
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Bottom Line: Unprecedented peace in the 25 years since the Cold War, in which major powers did not seem to actively prepare for large-scale war, seems to be coming to an end with the escalatory actions of Russia, China, and Iran. These powers have upended the security status quo. Russia has invaded Ukraine, China has built island fortresses in the South China Sea, and Iran’s proxy-led influence is at an unparalleled in the Middle East.

As such, the world needs America to chart a new containment-driven foreign policy that draws on its successes of the past and anticipates the course these peer competitors will take in the near future.

America's containment foreign policy during the Cold War was successful in limiting the Soviet Union's aggression. A similar yet modified containment strategy could now be applied to Russia, China, and Iran, which like the Soviet Union are dictatorships that threaten American interests and values. Such an approach offers the best chance of protecting American interests in the 21st century. 

Left unchecked, these powers could deliver a major blow to America. To compound the task ahead, these powers pose separate and distinct threats to the world. Whereas containment during the Cold War zeroed in on one power and one ideology, today's iteration must involve three separate regional strategies tailored to different governing ideals. 

Today's threat is not as big as its Cold War predecessor. Yet it is far more complicated and will require a blend of policies and ingenuity. 

A successful containment strategy requires America to engage its allies, and explicitly seek to rally, or root out, freeriding countries that do not recognize the threat or demonstrate a willingness to counter it.

Perhaps the greatest priority within this task is first solidifying American resolve, which has been tested and worn thin by decades of foreign entanglements. The Foreign Affairs piece cautions that by the time these skeptical Americans realize what they need to protect, it may be too late. 

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