Building Peace in Times of Terror

We the People are wiser than warfare. We must act on that wisdom as our nation and our shared planet confront the possibility of eternal warfare. Our choice instead is to embark on an Age of Peacebuilding – an era that balances the realities of terrorism with the knowledge of diplomacy and the promise of people-to-people conflict resolution. And here’s the key to success: we must build peace here at home at the same time we confront terrorism and build peace around the world.

I have stated many times that building peace requires transforming government. We have a great deal of work to do here at home if we want our federal departments and agencies to deliver world-class services better suited for the 21st century. I launched my presidential campaign to Transform America by Transforming Government with a 7-Track Plan to do just that. I have begun an agency-by-agency series to show how this is done starting with the Departments of Justice and Veterans Affairs with Education, Labor and Housing up next.

We cannot be a force for good around the world until We the People trust the results delivered by our government Of the People; right now there is no trust and few good results. Foreign policy can only be successful with a simultaneous commitment to programs and reforms that truly serve the American people.

As an independent candidate for President of the United States, I present today these five operating principles for all foreign policy decisions in my White House:

1) We must be strong to build peace. In today’s world, strength begins with the best trained, best equipped and most respected military on the planet. As America makes decisions about confronting terrorism, as China expands its military arsenal and as Russia re-engages militarily in the Mid-East and Eastern Europe, we must make sure our military and intelligence expertise and resources are strong enough to counter today’s ever-changing threats.  We must be smarter about how we fund our military, smarter about how our military spends taxpayer dollars and smarter about how we cut off the flows of fighters, weapons and money into conflict zones worldwide.

True power must always include strength at home. We cannot be the most powerful democracy on the planet when only 19% of Americans trust our government to do the right thing and 75% of Americans see corruption widespread in government. We the People must rethink, reinvent and re-boot all our federal agencies until they deliver world-class services to all of us.

Strength at home is also reflected in the power of our core values – justice, equality, freedom and liberty, individual choice, respect for diversity and self-government. As we recognize and work though our differences, we must hold close the values that bind us together as one nation, one America.

2) The purpose of American foreign policy is peacebuilding. The goal of war is never more war; the goals of warfare in the 21st century are the political solutions that can only be achieved through face-to-face dialog. I say this based on one conclusion I have talked and written about for more than 30 years: The power of face-to-face dialog is enormous and untapped. Only dialog can bring ceasefires, peace talks and community reconciliation. I know we can turn anger and hatred to solutions. I know we can launch waves of local peace-building and restorative justice.

I know beyond doubt that peacebuilders are working at every level and in every domain in every conflict zone around the world. These peacebuilders include government officials and non-government organizations, local community leaders, peace activists, business leaders, sports leaders, the faith community, musicians, educators and trainers. I understand multi-track diplomacy and I will bring to the forefront this worldwide network of peacebuilders.

3) Building peace does not mean being stupid. No one can sweet-talk a bully; no one can negotiate with psychopaths and sociopaths that use beheadings, crucifixions, rape and enslavement as tactics of war. They have crossed a dark line; they are lost to us forever; they are not part of any peace talks; they will be confronted and defeated.

4) American foreign policy must be based on systems thinking and true partnerships. Systems thinking means foreign policy composed of strategies from many different points of view. For many decades, oil and defense companies, arms dealers and big money have held American foreign policy hostage. Political advisers who see the world as empires to be conquered have done great damage to our nation and our reputation as well as many places in the world we share. The new path forward is foreign policy developed by integrating many different sets of knowledge including:

  • Military strategies carefully considered and always informed by experts in culture and history.
  • Diplomatic engagement as the ultimate goal of foreign policy with attention to the unseen peacebuilding that occurs at all levels of every community.
  • Intelligence and communication strategies to counter the appeal of ISIS and radical violence that do not underestimate the ways in which corruption, failed government and broken educational systems fuel violent extremism.
  • Humanitarian, economic and infrastructure development plans that recognize our War on Terror has killed 1.3 million civilians while contributing to 4 million Syrian refuges among nearly 60 million people displaced by war worldwide. We must be wiser about all the costs of war and the moral injury war inflicts on us all.

Once comprehensive and agreed-upon strategies have been completed, I will never allow politics to micromanage military tactics.

True international partnerships are the foundation of a systems approach to foreign policy. I will not put American boots on the ground unless We the People clearly see how all our international partners fully contribute to efforts that will defeat violent extremism. This includes clear goals and plans for sharing intelligence, eliminating all the ways terrorism is funded, and managing the humanitarian and economic consequences of war.

5) Washington D.C. must tilt toward peacebuilding. We spend 12 times as much making war as building peace. Our foreign policies are based on aggression and confrontation and those policies alone do not work. We must be more effective in the ways we de-escalate tensions and demand diplomatic solutions. We must have clear follow-up plans for the months and years after we stop dropping bombs. We must recognize that building peace requires transforming government and we must reduce and prevent violence wherever we find it – including racism, persecution, sexual assaults and institutional violence. Political leaders must recognize that we cannot build peace around the world unless we build peace here at home.

There are real and dangerous conflicts around the world and there are certainly people out there who want to do us harm. We need to be realistic about those dangers and talk honestly about how we will work together to counter those threats while understanding the true costs of war.

I have set two measurable goals for my White House: by 2020 the American people will have more trust in and respect for our government; and by 2025 our government will be a more trusted and respected partner around the world. This requires honest communication about the challenges we face and the choices before us. As one nation, we must move forward on all fronts with a range of solutions that solve real problems here at home and around the world.

And with that range of solutions before us, I hold this truth in my vision, goals and plans for America: In the 21st century, we the people are wiser than warfare.

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