“A better state of peace”: American strategy beyond the limits of warfare

The upcoming transition to a new administration provides the United States with an opportunity to change its approach to global security threats. To date, it has prioritized militaristic approaches that attack the symptoms conflict – for example, by targeting terrorist groups and militants – often failing to address the underlying drivers that lead to violent conflict. Experience over the last decade has shown that this strategy has been counterproductive and antithetical to American security goals, arguably contributing to the rise of many of the crises that now dominate the US security agenda.

The United States has the potential to be a major contributor to global peace. With a shift to a more nuanced and forward-thinking security outlook, it can be a pioneer for approaches that lead towards long-term peace upon which economic prosperity and stable governance depend.  

This briefing outlines a series of key security challenges and presents a set of recommendations for the new administration, covering four areas:

  • Prioritizing peace in US strategy
  • Countering violent extremism
  • Re-thinking global partnerships
  • Realizing the potential of US development and diplomacy.

The hope is that the incoming President will consider the value of alternative approaches to peace and work to reverse narrow and short-sighted strategies that have entrenched grievances, increased state fragility and contributed to violations of human rights.

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“The reliance of US foreign policy on militarized approaches and regional partners with questionable human rights records has brought little success”