Debate: Is A Containment Strategy Enough For Isis?

Aug 18, 2015

In June 2014, the Sunni militant group ISIS declared that it had established a new caliphate spanning territory in Syria and Iraq. Since then, the region under its control has expanded, despite airstrikes and the deployment of U.S. military advisers, and Jihadist groups across the Muslim world have pledged their allegiance. What should the Obama administration's next steps be? Should the U.S. goal be containment, or can ISIS be defeated?

Before the debate, 52 percent of the audience voted in favor of the motion, while 27 percent were opposed and 21 percent were undecided. After the event, 32 percent agreed with the motion and 59 percent disagreed, and 9 percent were undecided, making the team arguing against the motion the winners of the debate.


For The Motion

Michèle Flournoy is the co-founder and CEO of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) and a senior adviser at the Boston Consulting Group. Formerly the under secretary of defense for policy (2009-2012), she was the principal adviser to the secretary of defense in the formulation of national security and defense policy, oversight of military plans and operations, and in NSC deliberations. She led the development of Department of Defense's new Strategic Guidance and represented the DoD in dozens of foreign engagements, in the media, and before Congress. Previously, she was senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a distinguished research professor at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University. Flournoy has received several awards from the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She is a member of the Defense Policy Board, CFR, and the Aspen Strategy Group.

Philip Zelikow is the White Burkett Miller Professor of History at the University of Virginia and former dean of its graduate school. A career foreign service officer, Zelikow has served overseas and in Washington, including on the NSC staff under George H.W. Bush. He then became a professor at Harvard and later at UVA. Zelikow also took two leaves from academia to return full-time to government service. In 2003-2004 he directed the 9/11 Commission, and in 2005-2007, he was the counselor of the State Department. He has served on the President's Intelligence Advisory Board, for George W. Bush and for Barack Obama, and is a consultant to the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He is a member of the Aspen Strategy Group.

Against The Motion

Anne-Marie Slaughter is the president and CEO of the New America Foundation and the Bert G. Kerstetter '66 University Professor Emerita of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University. From 2009 to 2011, she served as the director of Policy Planning for the State Department, the first woman to hold that position. Prior to her government service, Slaughter was the dean of Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the J. Sinclair Armstrong Professor of International, Foreign, and Comparative Law at Harvard Law School. She has written or edited six books, including A New World Order and The Idea That Is America: Keeping Faith with Our Values in a Dangerous World, and is a frequent contributor to a number of publications, including The Atlantic and Project Syndicate. She is a member of the Aspen Strategy Group.

Dov Zakheim is senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and senior fellow at CNA Corp. Previously, he served as senior vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton, as under secretary of defense (comptroller) and chief financial officer for the Defense Department, and as the DoD's coordinator of civilian programs in Afghanistan. During the 2000 presidential campaign, he was a senior foreign policy adviser to then-Gov. Bush. From 1985 to 1987, Zakheim was deputy under secretary of defense for planning and resources. He is vice chairman of both the Foreign Policy Research Institute and the Center for the National Interest, a member of the Defense Business Board and the Chief of Naval Operations Executive Panel, and has been an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and an adjunct professor at several universities. He is a member of the Aspen Strategy Group.

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