Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 05/2013

A New Containment-Policy – The Curbing of War and Violent Conflict in World Society

Andreas Herberg-Rothe

May 2013

S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies


We are witnessing a worldwide expansion of war and violence, which should be countered by a new containment, 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.” 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 militarily containment. These ideas are still valid – and as Kennan himself pointed out, they are in more need of explication and implementation than ever. The idea behind this concept is very simple: if the “world” is "flat" and something like a global network, the task is to protect our connections in the net and to contain the spreading of war and violence through this network.