CONFLICT MANAGEMENT AND PEACEBUILDING: PILLARS OF A NEW AMERICAN GRAND STRATEGY

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AUTHORS:
US Army War College, Volker Franke, Robert Dorff

SUMMARY:
On February 24, 2012, Kennesaw State University (KSU) and the Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) of the U.S. Army War College (USAWC), conducted a symposium entitled “Peacebuilding and Conflict Management: Pillars of a New American Grand Strategy.” The symposium built on the results of the 2011 KSU-SSI symposium that examined the utility of the U.S. Government’s whole-of-government (WoG) approach for responding to the challenging security demands of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Based on this earlier evaluation of the benefits and shortcomings of the WoG approach in the field and the integration of operational and tactical demands generated by new security challenges, the 2012 symposium examined more closely the strategic objectives of interagency cooperation specifically in the areas of peacebuilding and conflict management.

In addition to the dual focus on peacebuilding and conflict management, the symposium was designed to examine one of the ongoing research interests in the SSI academic engagement series: the role of WoG efforts in addressing contemporary national and international security challenges and opportunities. In addition, the topics covered by the panelists created important synergies with SSI’s 2012 Annual Strategy Conference, which examined challenges and opportunities for the future of U.S. grand strategy in an age of austerity. Four symposium panels addressed the following topics: “The Role of Peacebuilding and Conflict Management in a Future American Grand Strategy,” “More than a Military Tool: Strengthening Civil-Military Cooperation in Peacebuilding,” “Peace and Development: Key Elements of a New Grand Strategy,” and “Conflict Management, Peacebuilding, and a New American Grand Strategy: Views from Abroad.”

The symposium discussions ranged from the conceptual to the practical, with a focus on the challenges and desirability of interagency cooperation in international interventions. Invited panelists shared their experiences and expertise on the need for and future of an American grand strategy in an era characterized by increasingly complex security challenges and shrinking budgets. Panelists agreed that taking the status quo for granted was a major obstacle to developing a successful grand strategy and that government, the military, international and nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector are all called on to contribute their best talents and efforts to joint global peace and security efforts. The panelists engaged the audience in a discussion that included viewpoints from academia, the military, government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and industry. Despite the broad range of viewpoints, a number of overarching themes and tentative agreements emerged. The reader will find them in the chapters of this edited volume.