The latest instalment of the International Institute for Strategic Studies's Survival Seminar featured Dr Hal Brands and Dr Peter Feaver, authors of the recent Survival article ‘Was the rise of ISIS inevitable?’.

Brands and Feaver contended that different American policy choices could have thwarted the rise of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. They reached this conclusion after considering a range of counter-factual scenarios, including alternatives to US disengagement from Iraq in 2010–11, robust early intervention in the Syrian civil war, and action against ISIS before its assault on western Iraq. They argued, however, that the Iraq invasion did not make the rise of ISIS inevitable; quite the contrary, they showed that different, but plausible decisions by the Obama administration could have profoundly reduced the ISIS threat before it emerged.

This event took place at the IISS–Americas office, 2121 K Street NW, Suite 801, Washington DC 20037. It was chaired by Dr Dana Allin, Editor of Survival and Senior Fellow for US Foreign Policy and Transatlantic Affairs, IISS.

Dr Hal Brands is the Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor of Global Affairs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. His most recent book is Making the Unipolar Moment: U.S. Foreign Policy and the Rise of the Post-Cold War Order (Cornell University Press, 2016). He was a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow from 2015–2016. He has also consulted with a range of government offices and agencies in the intelligence and national security communities. His upcoming book, American Grand Strategy in the Age of Trump, will be released in January 2018.

Dr Peter Feaver is a Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at Duke University, where he directs the American Grand Strategy Program and the Triangle Institute for Security Studies. From June 2005 to July 2007, Feaver was on leave to be Special Advisor for Strategic Planning and Institutional Reform on the National Security Council Staff at the White House, where his responsibilities included the national security strategy, regional strategy reviews, and other political-military issues. Feaver has authored/co-authored five books, including Paying the Human Costs of War(Princeton, 2009).


Dana Allin

Dana H. Allin has been Editor of Survival: Global Politics and Strategy since 1998, with chief responsibility for the bi-monthly journal’s content and style. As IISS Senior Fellow, he writes widely on the strategic challenges of US foreign policy. His articles and book chapters have appeared in the Financial Times, International Herald Tribune, Wall Street Journal, and numerous edited volumes.

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Event details

Monday 2 October, 6–7.30pm EDT
IISS–Americas, Washington DC
Dr Hal Brands, Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor of Global Affairs, Johns Hopkins University SAIS
Dr Peter Feaver, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, Duke University
Dr Dana Allin, Editor, Survival; Senior Fellow for US Foreign Policy and Transatlantic Affairs, IISS