Track 7.  Build Peace
Turn anger and hatred to solutions through ceasefires, face-to-face dialog, community justice and working together on shared projects that solve shared problems

The Problem: Government policy and culture is tilted toward protecting turf, building an empire, doing battle and making war. The activities and psychology of mediation and peacebuilding are missing from government policies and decisions.

The Bigger Mess: Violence and conflict seem out of control. We see before us domestic violence, school bullying, cyber attacks,sexual assaults, communities in conflict with law enforcement, political parties attacking each other rather than solving shared problems and brutal, horrific warfare around the world. Where are the comprehensive, whole of government strategies to deal with these circumstances?

The Big Idea: Comprehensive, whole of government strategies to address violence and conflict at all levels of human interaction include both the activities of peacebuilding and the psychology of peacemaking. Yessome people have crossed a dark line and are truly, irrevocably dangerous; so yes there are times when we put people in prison or help our international partners who are dropping bombs on terrorists. Still I believe that truly solving social conflict must always include face to face dialog and shared projects that improve communities - in sum the activities of peacebuilding and a recognition of the psychology of peacemaking.

Peacebuilding is the full range of activities that solves problems and reduces violence. Activities may include ceasefires, peace talks, a gang truce, treaty negotiations or peer mediation in schools. Peacemaking is personal. Peacemaking is a change of mind or a change of heart, a sudden new awareness that recognizes the perspective of others, a decision to do things differently. I believe in the power and potential of face to face dialog. My theory of peacemaking: People joined together in face to face dialog generate a field of energy that taps patterns of balance and rhythms of harmony across multiple levels of awareness. 

The Solution:

  1. Develop comprehensivewhole of government strategies for conflict situations around the world that include militarydiplomaticeconomic, educational, community development and face to face communication.
  2. Develop comparable, whole of government strategies for conflict situations here at home.
  3. Require the U.S. Institute of Peace to train and deploy mediators and peacebuilders within the United States when needed including for communities in conflict.
  4. Learn from the experts: Ambassador John W. McDonald, retired after 40 years with the U. S. Department of State and co-founder of the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy (IMTD), considers conflict resolution from a systems perspective where community dialogs about ways to reduce violence occur along with official negotiations. From this point of view, new business opportunities in conflict zones as well as shared art, music and sports programs also play a role bringing people on opposite sides of a conflict together to improve relationships.

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.

Based on a speech delivered by Dr. Kahn to Veterans in Politics, International Las Vegas, Nevada 8/27/2015     

How do we begin to have the conversations that will lead us in the direction of fulfilling the promises we have made to our soldiers and veterans? We have heard the facts and read the personal stories:

  • 22 American veterans commit suicide every day

Reinvention is the key and peacemaking is the heart of today’s revolution

For all social conflict, I believe in the overwhelming power of face-to-face dialog. In terms of strategy and actions, building peace requires fixing government. In terms of lifelong transformation, changing hearts and minds only occurs through face-to-face dialog. In this short article, I re-visit the chapter titled “A Science of Peacemaking” from my first (1988) book Peacemaking: A Systems Approach to Conflict Management.

My presidential platform combines fixing our broken government and building peace here at home and around the world. The two elements are connected: building peace requires fixing government. I also believe we have to reduce and prevent violence here at home before we can make much progress building peace around the world.

In this article, I will start with a story about peacebuilding and then present a strategic plan to reduce and prevent violence in America.

America is finally and quite visibly confronting a broken justice system and the disproportionate arrest, detention and incarceration of people of color. The trigger for this awakening has been the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of law enforcement. Other tragedies could have provoked such outrage including private for-profit prisons with federally mandated quotas for immigration arrests or the abuse of locked-up prisoners including juveniles or the built-in bias of laws that imprison women who act to protect themselves or their children from domestic violence. Clearly, this is an opportunity for change – let’s be wise and effective about what we do as a nation.

America has the military superiority to win wars, yet where is our superior vision for building peace? Eternal warfare on our shared planet is now within our grasp, blinding us to our collective knowledge about the activities of peacebuilding and the psychology of peacemaking.

Building peace does not mean being stupid. Any parent who has sent their child off to school knows that bullies must be confronted not sweet-talked. The brutal beheadings, murders, rapes, and attempted genocide in the mid-east may call for a military response in the short term. The tragedy does not call for World War III.