My Presidential platform [was] Transform Government and Build Peace. My 7-track plan was designed to support that platform. This article focuses on Track 7: Build Peace and specifically my 5-point doctrine on war and peacebuilding in the 21st Century.
As President of the United States, I [would] abide by a new doctrine for war and peacebuilding in the 21st century based on five operating principles:
1. We must be strong to build peace. As America makes decisions about confronting terrorism, as China expands its military arsenal including missiles aimed at U.S. soil, as North Korea claims to have miniaturized nuclear warheads and makes threats about nuclear aggression, and as Russia also builds new weapons systems and 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. Anything less is straight out naïve; we must be strong to build peace.
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 trusted and respected world-class services to all of us.
Strength at home is built on the power of our core values – freedom, justice, equality, diversity and self-government. As we work though our differences in this election cycle, we must remember to hold close the values that bind us together as 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 my absolute conviction that the power of face-to-face dialog is enormous and untapped. My theory of peacemaking published in 1988 is unchanged: People joined together in face-to-face dialog generate a field of energy with patterns of balance and rhythms of harmony across multiple levels of awareness.
This conviction in the power of dialog has influenced my work on issues related to violence and peacebuilding for more than 35 years. In the 1970s, I studied the group dynamics of peacemaking for my doctoral research. My 1988 book, Peacemaking: A Systems Approach to Conflict Management described the technology, psychology, theory and application of peacebuilding. In 1994, I designed a citywide Summit on Violence for Cleveland, Ohio where 1,000 residents worked together on action plans for twenty topics – from drugs and guns to gangs and the role of police in local neighborhoods. From 2005 through 2014, I worked on strategic plans to transform juvenile services for the City of Washington D.C. and then to transform probation services for New York City. This cemented in place my understanding of community peacebuilding and restorative justice. I learned to distinguish between the activities of peacebuilding (ceasefires, truce negotiations and community service) and the psychology of peacemaking (the internal dynamics of new insights and a change of heart).
And now of course my Presidential platform is Transform Government and Build Peace. My belief in the power of dialog is unshakeable and grounded in a respectful understanding of real world tensions and challenges. I know beyond any doubt that peacebuilders are working at every level and in every domain in every conflict zone around the world. This is often called multi-track diplomacy and as President 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 must 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. Decades of political advisers who have seen the world as “empires” or land and resources to be conquered have done great damage to our nation. 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 address how corruption, failed government and broken educational systems fuel violent extremism.
- Humanitarian and economic development plans that recognize our War on Terror has killed 1.3 million civilians while contributing to 4 million Syrian refuges among 60 million people displaced worldwide.
- Military budgets that spend taxpayer dollars wisely.
In 2003, we invaded Iraq, choosing sides in a religious war going on for more than 1,350 years. Eight weeks after the invasion, we fired 85,000 teachers, nurses, doctors, accountants and engineers. One week later, we disbanded the entire Iraqi army. We sent 700,000K Iraqi men home angry, humiliated, with their weapons and chain of command; when they protested in the following days, we fired our weapons. Our aggressive response inflamed wide-spreading rage and an insurgency that we then crushed (for a while) setting the stage for the rise of ISIS. These were all political decisions made against the advice of our military, intelligence and diplomatic leaders. These were poorly thought out decisions to build an empire and grab oil fields. Now almost all of the leaders of ISIS are former Iraqi officers.
SO I PROMISE I will never send our sons and daughters into harms way without listening to all points of view, without a comprehensive plan for going in and coming out, and without guarantees that our international partners are truly working together to stop the flow of weapons, fighters and money into conflict zones. Once agreed-upon strategies are complete, I will never allow politics to micromanage military tactics.
Today our international partners must work together on plans beyond the defeat of ISIS to design new governance structures, new models for security and clear plans for economic development in a region devastated by war and a refugee tragedy. And those investments cannot happen around the world without substantial investments in creating a true 21st century economy here in America.
5. Washington D.C. must tilt toward peacebuilding. We spend 12 times as much making war as building peace. That imbalance must be corrected. American foreign policies are based on aggression and confrontation and those policies alone do not work. We must make wiser decisions.
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. Our political leaders must recognize that we cannot build peace around the world unless we build peace here at home, starting in Washington, DC and including politicians at all levels. We the People must demand more of our political leaders.
FINAL COMMENT: 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 how we will work together to counter those threats while understanding the true costs of war and the moral injury war inflicts on us all. We must as a nation make a new set of decisions together: when to declare a global ceasefire, how to create an America that works for everyone with no one left out, how to invest in peacebuilding and economic development here at home and around the world.
With these plans and principles to build peace around the world, with that range of solutions before us, with a ready network of peacebuilders worldwide and knowing that only a voter’s revolution will demonstrate that we can together launch a new era of peacebuilding, I hold this truth in my vision, goals and plans for America: In the 21st century, we the people are wiser than warfare.