We, the People are wiser than warfare. Acting on that wisdom requires specific, coordinated action. Our choice as a nation and for our shared planet starkly confronts us with a future of eternal warfare or an age of peacebuilding.
I approach the topic of conflict resolution as The Government Mechanic -- a strategic planner diving into complex problems to find the vision and strategies for a solution, the roadmap and timelines for change, enduring mechanisms of coordination, and the right measurements to track real progress.
As an independent candidate for President of the United States, my 5-Point Doctrine for a foreign policy framework first appeared in a December 2015 article and again in a July 2016 interview. The framework and my perspective remain the same to this day.
My platform included a 7-Track Plan with six tracks devoted to transforming the federal government department-by-broken-department. Track 7 Build Peace contained two sections:
- Build peace here at home by transforming the U.S. Department of Justice, reinventing our broken and wasteful federal government, then redirecting savings to community and infrastructure needs.
- Build peace around the world by balancing diplomatic wisdom, military strength, economic pressures and people-to-people cooperation.
My basic conclusion has long been that building peace anywhere is deeply connected to fixing government here at home. This foreign policy framework fits with programs to reinvent all of government; and meets bureaucratic demands for a structured doctrine easily divided into teams, goals, budgets and evaluations:
5-Point Doctrine for War and Peacebuilding
1. We must be strong to build peace.
2. The purpose of American foreign policy is building peace.
3. Building peace does not mean being stupid.
4. Foreign policies require systems thinking and true partnerships.
5. We must tilt Washington D.C. toward peacebuilding.This article applies the 5-Point Doctrine to current foreign policy crises with updated positions, including comments on North Korea. I start with the same
warning about honesty:
“When governments use chemical weapons, barrel bombs, and tactics of starvation on civilian populations, America must assert leadership. When governments threaten nuclear war, the world looks to America for calm and thoughtful leadership. We have no easy answers. Each situation calls for a unique balancing of military strength, diplomatic wisdom, intelligence assessments, sanctions that leverage American wealth and resources, people-to-people peace-building efforts, all with tougher accountability from our partners.
Successful peacebuilding efforts here at home and around the world rest on a more honest dialogue with the American people. We are not honest about the consequences of war and the 1.3 million civilians in the Middle East who have died in our War on Terror. We are not honest about the consequences for the young men and women that we send out as soldiers, and how they come back, and how we don’t take care of them ... the right foreign policy has to begin with honest discussions with the American people.”
With the 5-Point Doctrine in mind, strategies for different conflict zones are internally consistent. In the Israeli - Palestinian conflict, major stakeholders are waiting for clarity in White House policies; meanwhile, my strategies from the 2016 interview are exactly the same today:
"The American role is to (1) renew peace talks; (2) identify exactly what is needed to negotiate a durable ceasefire; (3) quickly move to resolve immediate concerns with security, water, electricity, food, housing, schools and sanitation; and (4) complete just and sustainable strategic plans for economic and educational development in the region. As with any peacebuilding approach, with our partners, America supports multi-track diplomacy and conflict resolution activities; people-to-people programs at the grassroots level; and bringing more women and more diversity into conflict resolution activities."
Regarding Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, strategies are needed for ISIS, the Taliban, the Syrian Civil War, and Rebuilding the Mid-East:
- ISIS is on the run in Iraq and Syria. Over the last two years, ISIS lost 60 percent of the territory they once held and lost 80 percent of their revenue from oil, gas, farming and taxation of civilian populations. Days ago (October 8) almost 1,000 ISIS fighters surrendered to Kurdish forces bringing along their hungry families. Bombing and drone attacks are last year’s strategy. House-by-house clearing of ISIS fighters using civilians as shields in Mosul, Raqqa and elsewhere is not an operation for American bombs or American soldiers.
- A re-energized Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan apparently needs 4,000 more U.S. troops “advising” the Afghan military, not serving in “combat” roles. We need clearer long-term plans to keep ISIS from moving back and forth across the Iraq-Afghanistan border. The longest war in American history needs a new perspective.
- We can help end the civil war in Syria through tougher sanctions and driving stakeholders toward peace talks. We must work with Russia to achieve meaningful ceasefires in Syria.
- Along with our international partnerships, we must accept responsibility for stopping the flow of weapons, money, and fighters into conflict zones.
- America can begin to sponsor immediate discussions with international allies about the future political structure that will help people re-build the entire region. Any shape of government (or federation of tribes) imposed by outsiders will only repeat the failed political order of 1919.
I supported the Iran Nuclear Deal in 2015, noting the hard-fought agreement among six nations and Iran. I trusted the scientific, military, intelligence, and political experts who wrote clear technical and economic timelines and consequences.
Our current Iran strategy must demonstrate military strength and keep the conversations going: build on those relationships that developed in the negotiations among the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, China and Iran. Seek agreement next on steps to reduce tensions and violence in the Middle East.
Russia is flexing its muscles and President Vladimir Putin knows how to operate on the world stage. Putin’s personal career as a former intelligence service operative means he brings a singular focus and pride in Russian history to his priorities for military strength.
Putin wants respect. He could be brought into negotiations to identify steps for reducing tensions and conflict in Ukraine. The first statement of the 5-Point Doctrine rises in relevance when strategizing about Russia: We must be strong to build peace.
North Korean leadership only recognizes brute force. Kim Jong-un and most of his country believe the U.S. will invade them or bomb them into oblivion. They believe only nuclear capability will prevent such an invasion.
North Koreans do not understand western culture (nor do we understand theirs) so our foreign policies must encourage diplomatic engagement by China and Japan.
What’s next? American foreign policy must look far afield and well down the road. We need policies to deal with: more than 230 million hungry and mostly young people in East Africa; about 40,000 foreign fighters leaving the Middle East as ISIS loses territory; and current and future waves of suicide bombers and cyber attacks.
A new foreign policy doctrine that balances military strength with diplomatic wisdom calls for ceasefires and to widely expand the halt in Iraqi air operations after US-led airstrikes killed 150 or more civilians in March 2016.
America must stand for something larger than eternal warfare. For a government mechanic, building peace around the world begins with a new guiding doctrine and balances military strength, diplomatic wisdom, intelligence assessments, America’s economic advantages, and people-to-people peacebuilding dialogues.
Building peace is deeply connected to fixing our broken government – they go hand-in-hand. Building peace here at home and around the world taps the power of face-to-face dialogue.
With peacebuilders working at every level in every conflict zone around the world, American foreign policy must embrace our capacity to reduce and prevent violence. The 5-Point Doctrine allows all Americans to wisely confront our choices of forever war or a new age of peacebuilding.
Author's Note: I am fully grateful to Democracy Chronicles and Independent Voter Network, which began in July 2015 to publish my articles on strategies to reduce violence in America, my analysis linking Probation reform and community peacebuilding, thoughts on my 1988 book Peacemaking and a science of peacemaking, and then finally an interview as a political candidate that allowed me to apply a foreign policy framework and 5-Point Doctrine to real world conflicts.