On November 11th, America will observe Veteran’s Day, so named in 1954 by President Eisenhower. For 35 years, Americans had celebrated Armistice Day in recognition of the end of World War I, and as a day dedicated to the “cause of world peace.” Following the massive mobilizations and sacrifices of World War II and the Korean War, however, Congress renamed Armistice Day as Veteran’s Day, and by so doing honored the millions more who had sacrificed for the common good.

Bugler in front of capitol

In his proclamation recognizing Armistice Day, President Wilson said:

“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"

Wilson’s call to recognize those who served in the “War to End All Wars” came on the heels of his failed effort to establish the League of Nations, and have America join it. Not until the end of World War II did America choose to join an international organization dedicated to the maintenance of peace and security, the United Nations. And in an effort to improve its abilities to prevent, mitigate and transform violent conflict, the United States established the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in 1984 to complement the work of America’s soldiers and diplomats at the State and Defense departments.

Today’s complex global environment poses security challenges that transcend the roles and responsibilities of our military forces. America’s conflicts have traditionally been military-dominated activities, but increasingly it is the diplomats and organizations like USIP who work in tandem with the military to achieve and maintain the desired result: the re-establishment and sustainability of peace.   

Since 1984, USIP has worked with both our diplomatic corps and military in our efforts to prevent and resolve international conflict. I saw this work from both angles. In 2003, as an active duty Army colonel I worked closely with USIP as it provided significant immediate conflict stabilization support to the American mission in Iraq. A few years later, as a retired Army officer, I was privileged to serve as USIP’s Iraq program director where we joined forces with the military and diplomats to 2007 to stabilize the violent “Triangle of Death” in Mahmoudiyah. Our institute staff of local Iraqi civilians and U.S. “peacebuilders” played a critical role in training conflict reconciliation facilitators who helped Iraqis peacefully resolve hot button issues. Since then, senior military leaders have recognized the value of USIP’s work in Iraq and several other countries in the region, including Libya and Tunisia. And the State Department has also welcomed USIP’s assistance in dealing with inter-ethnic and gender-based conflict in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Up close we see the very real sacrifices and commitment of all our colleagues on the ground. We value our work with them, now and in the future.

So, on this Veterans Day as the nation justifiably honors those members of the military who have served and died in defense of the United States, I wish to extend my own keen appreciation to fellow veterans and all the others who “show sympathy with peace and justice” in dangerous and remote places on behalf of the American people.

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Is an End-of-War Declaration for the Korean Peninsula a Risk Worth Taking?

Is an End-of-War Declaration for the Korean Peninsula a Risk Worth Taking?

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By: Frank Aum

As efforts to resume nuclear negotiations with Pyongyang go nowhere, the concept of an end-of-war declaration for the Korean Peninsula has become a polarizing topic in both Washington and Seoul. USIP’s Frank Aum explains how it could serve Washington and Seoul’s interests, how such a declaration could advance the peace process between North and South Korea, what risks it could pose and how the U.S. Congress could play a role in shaping such a declaration.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

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What Afghanistan Teaches Us About Evidence-Based Policy

What Afghanistan Teaches Us About Evidence-Based Policy

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By: Corinne Graff, Ph.D.

Even as the debate over the lessons learned by the U.S. government in Afghanistan continues, several clear conclusions have emerged. One is that U.S. agencies repeatedly underestimated the time and resources needed to support a nation wracked by decades of war, while they failed to follow a consistent plan for civilian recovery efforts. U.S. personnel also lacked the training needed to be successful in the field, and monitoring and evaluation efforts did not receive the policy attention required to enable course corrections and learning. 

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Ante desilusión frente a la democracia ¿Pueden las históricas elecciones de Honduras traer el cambio?

Ante desilusión frente a la democracia ¿Pueden las históricas elecciones de Honduras traer el cambio?

Thursday, December 2, 2021

By: Mary Speck, Ph.D.

Los hondureños hicieron historia el 28 de noviembre al elegir a la líder de izquierda Xiomara Castro como la primera presidenta en la historia del país. En un país plagado por inestabilidad política y polarización, los hondureños también demostraron cómo se debe transferir el poder presidencial en una democracia al recibir Castro gentilmente a su oponente conservador, quien luego emitió un comunicado pidiendo "reconciliación y unidad". El nuevo gobierno enfrenta enormes desafíos, que incluyen altas tasas de violencia criminal, corrupción endémica, inseguridad alimentaria crónica y migración irregular. Castro podría verse tentada a tomar atajos políticos y éticos para abordarlos. Pero el número récord de votantes el fin de semana pasado mostró un fuerte deseo de trabajar en los problemas del país en las urnas, no a través de la violencia o medios fuera de lo legal.

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Amid Democratic Disillusionment, Can Honduras’ Historic Election Bring Change?

Amid Democratic Disillusionment, Can Honduras’ Historic Election Bring Change?

Thursday, December 2, 2021

By: Mary Speck, Ph.D.

Hondurans made history on November 28, electing leftist Xiomara Castro as the country’s first woman president. In a country plagued by political instability and polarization, Hondurans also demonstrated how presidential power should be transferred in a democracy as Castro graciously received her conservative opponent, who then issued a statement calling for “reconciliation and unity.” The new government faces enormous challenges, including high rates of criminal violence, endemic corruption, chronic food insecurity and irregular migration. Castro could be tempted to cut political and ethical corners in managing them. But the record numbers of voters last weekend showed a strong desire to work on the country’s problems at the ballot box, not through violence or extra-legal means.

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