Containing the Islamic State: A revolutionary approach

Professor Stephen Walt explored a radically new approach on how to contain the Islamic State.

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2 October 2015: Containing the Islamic State - a revolutionary approach by Ecfr on Mixcloud


Stephen Walt, Professor of International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School


Chaired by

Mark Leonard, Director, ECFR

ECFR welcomed Professor Stephen Walt in the first event of our ‘ECFR @SmithSquare’ series, which will see exciting speakers coming to ECFR’s new office to discuss Europe and the world.

Professor Walt discussed existing Western policy towards the Islamic State and why a radically new approach is required. He argued that the “Islamic State” is best understood as a revolutionary state-building organisation, in many ways similar to earlier revolutionary movements such as the Jacobins, Bolsheviks, Khmer Rouge, or the Khomeinist movement. Like these other movements, the Islamic State sees the “other” as intrinsically evil, believes victory over them is inevitable, and believes it is a model that has universal relevance and will soon spread across the Middle East and beyond.

The event explored ideas on how the Islamic State should be contained beyond the existing narrow counter-terrorism lens through which it is viewed by the West.

To watch an interview with Stephen Walt on the topic, click here.

Stephen Walt is the Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Mark Leonard is the Director of the European Council on Foreign Relations.