Creating More Stability – an Antecedent to Peace

Within the Persuasive Technology Lab we’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking, discussing, creating courses and projects on peace innovation.  One of the ways we’ve framed our thinking is around the concept of ‘antecedents to peace.’

1. preceding; prior: an antecedent event.


a preceding circumstance, event, object, style, phenomenon, etc.

In one of my earlier posts I displayed a mindmap on my take on possible antecedents to peace, among them Functioning Government.   (A quick aside, Peace Dot partner, City of Manor is focused in on this area.) The mindmap then branches out to gov2.0, transparency, lack of corruption with more sub-branches sprouting from those three areas.

Well, it turns out the US Military thinks that functioning governments, or as they put it, avoiding failed states, is a crucial part of keeping the peace as well.

This from the US Army Field Manual on Stability Operations:

Since the terrorist attacks on the American people seven years ago, we have been engaged in an epic struggle unlike any other in our history. This struggle, what may be the defining ideological conflict of the 21st century, is marked by the rising threat of a violent extremist movement that seeks to create anarchy and instability throughout the international system. Within this system, we also face emerging nations discontented with the status quo, flush with wealth and ambition, and seeking a new global balance of power. Yet the greatest threat to our national security comes not in the form of terrorism or ambitious powers, but from fragile states either unable or unwilling to provide for the most basic needs of their people.

As the Nation continues into this era of uncertainty and persistent conflict, the lines separating war and peace, enemy and friend, have blurred and no longer conform to the clear delineations we once knew. At the same time, emerging drivers of conflict and instability are combining with rapid cultural, social, and technological change to further complicate our understanding of the global security environment. Military success alone will not be sufficient to prevail in this environment. To confront the challenges before us, we must strengthen the capacity of the other elements of national power, leveraging the full potential of our interagency partners.

America’s future abroad is unlikely to resemble Afghanistan or Iraq, where we grapple with the burden of nation-building under fire. Instead, we will work through and with the community of nations to defeat insurgency, assist fragile states, and provide vital humanitarian aid to the suffering. Achieving victory will assume new dimensions as we strengthen our ability to generate “soft” power to promote participation in government, spur economic development, and address the root causes of conflict among the disenfranchised populations of the world. At the heart of this effort is a comprehensive approach to stability operations that integrates the tools of statecraft with our military forces, international partners, humanitarian organizations, and the private sector.

The comprehensive approach ensures unity of effort among a very rich and diverse group of actors while fostering the development of new capabilities to shape the operational environment in ways that preclude the requirement for future military intervention. It postures the military to perform a role common throughout history—ensuring the safety and security of the local populace, assisting with reconstruction, and providing basic sustenance and public services. Equally important, it defines the role of military forces in support of the civilian agencies charged with leading these complex endeavors. Field Manual 3-07, Stability Operations, represents a milestone in Army doctrine. It is a roadmap from conflict to peace, a practical guidebook for adaptive, creative leadership at a critical time in our history. It institutionalizes the hard-won lessons of the past while charting a path for tomorrow. This manual postures our military forces for the challenges of an uncertain future, an era of persistent conflict where the unflagging bravery of our Soldiers will continue to carry the banner of freedom, hope, and opportunity to the people of the world.

It remains to be seen how this new direction will work out.  Nevertheless it’s encouraging that DoD is looking at root causes of conflict among disenfrenchised populations around the world – and how they can put their resources to work on behalf of improving people’s lives thus avoiding the need for conflict.

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One Reply to “Creating More Stability – an Antecedent to Peace”

  1. Here’s another perspective.Stability is not possible in a hyperconnected world like ours. Consider this – our world enables self-organized criticality which is characterized by very large disruptive events often cause by small triggers. For instance, a man with explosive powder in his shoe brings the global airline network to it’s knees.This is a world where it is not possible to organize for stability. However, you can organize for resilience, meaning the ability of a system to absorb large disturbances and still maintain structure and function. In fact, I would say that designing for stability can make things worse. For instance, subsidizing failing industries only postponing their demise and setting up a larger disruption when they finally do fail.What you want to design for is the cycles of development which are natural in any complex adaptive system. This is all to say that resilience may be better than stability as an antecedent.There is no way to freeze the world so it’s completely safe. And why would you want to? We must learn to ride the serpent, not anesthetize it.