This is one of the earliest Powerful Peace discussions on video, recorded in Washington nearly a year ago. It’s fun for me to look back on the earliest expressions, marvel at the consistency of the concepts over time, and discover along with my audience what’s evolving in the message!
I’m remembering my fallen SEAL friends, and the many who fell before our generation. Some think we “diminish” Memorial Day with picnics…but freedom & family is what they fought for.
Honor those who have given all for our way of life by living with love, health and happiness today.
“The president’s budget proposal is now on the streets of Washington, D.C. Currently, it would protect funding for the State Department and the Agency for International Development and related activities from further cuts. The combined annual budget for development aid, security aid and diplomacy has averaged close to $60 billion over the past half decade. That is now slated to decline to about $50 billion, partly due to reduced war-related costs. But this amount could come under intense scrutiny. Moreover, if there is no grand bargain between the president and the Congress, sequestration could force reductions of a further 10 percent.
“Such an outcome would be bad for our nation’s security. As each of us has testified on Capitol Hill in past years, America’s ability to protect itself and advance its global interests often depends as much on its ‘softer’ power as it does on our nation’s armed forces. For example, though Latin American countries were themselves primarily responsible for their progress, the headway many of them made in stabilizing their countries in recent years has been a big plus for American security, too — and American aid had a role in that progress. That is part of why we have supported a budget deal that would repeal sequestration and achieve most further deficit reduction through savings in entitlement spending with similar increases in revenue generation. Implicit in our approach was the thinking that lawmakers should avoid the temptation to gut foreign aid just because it generally lacks a strong constituency in the United States.”
Well, we had an enjoyable and productive panel on the Hill today. It was rewarding to have Congressional staffers, representatives of organizations and private citizens in the audience.
The panel were very diverse and accomplished, as well. That helped as we explored the future of special operations forces.
Here’s a photo of the crew from my perspective:
(From near to far)
–Derek Leebaert, Author of “To Dare and to Conquer: Special Operations and the Destiny of Nations from Achilles to Al Qaeda”
–LtColonel Anthony Shaffer, DIA, Army, Director of External Communications, Center for Advanced Defense Studies
–Michael Ostrolenk, co-founder of the American Conservative Defense Alliance, and event facilitator
–Jed Babbin, Former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense
–Peter O’Brien, U.S. Naval Intelligence (Ret.)
–Herb London, President of the London Center
–Eli Gold, Vice-President of the London Center and event coordinator.
And here’s a more relaxed pic of me with friends Peter, Tony and Michael. Among the highest designations one can receive in the traditional SEAL community is that of “A Good Mug”…these gents qualify.
You are cordially invited to a Round Table discussion
The Future of Special Operations:
A Look at Capabilities, Needs and Threats
In this round table discussion with experts and former operators, we are going to explore the global threats the U.S. faces and the role(s) that the special operations community will play in addressing those threats. We will discuss the actual capabilities our SOF have and what they will need in the near future as well as their limitations in being an extension of U.S. Foreign Policy.
Join the London Center for Policy Research as we ask our expert panel to dissect these questions and offer their thoughts on this topic of utmost importance. The panel will include:
- Herb London, President of the London Center;
- Lt Col Anthony Shaffer, DIA, Army, Director of External Communications, Center for Advanced Defense Studies;
- Jed Babbin, Former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense (President George H. W. Bush);
- Arthur Herman, Visiting Fellow, American Enterprise Institute;
- J. Robert DuBois, Navy SEAL (Ret.), author of Powerful Peace; A Navy SEAL’s Lessons on Peace from a Lifetime at War
- Peter O’Brien, U.S. Naval Intelligence (Ret.);
- Derek Leebaert, Author, To Dare and to Conquer
Eli. M. Gold, London Center Vice President and Michael Ostrolenk, co-founder of American Conservative Defense Alliance, will moderate the panel.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 11:00AM -12:00PM
Cannon House office Building,
The London Center for Policy Research
10 West Street | Suite 20E | New York, NY 10004 | (212) 227.9820
Walked a block from friend/mentor Kerry’s home (in a rough neighborhood) to the community center and a Powerful Peace talk with youth here in Detroit. I always pray to be “of use” to every audience…but in this rough area, ever so much more.
I’ve been around the world a few times, and I’ve seen almost all of America, but I have never seen a U.S. city with such widespread decay. There are many nice homes over the several miles I’ve explored, but most of those conscientious property owners are besieged by collapsing or burned shells on all sides. It feels as though the recession, the international shift of the auto industry, and despicable corruption by leadership all hurtled in to crash together in a perfect storm over this society.
I eagerly anticipate the day Detroit recovers from today’s painful reality. In the meantime, I am also encouraged by the many good men and women who refuse to back down from ensuring the safety and education of their youth. Every neighborhood has similar ventures, and it was a delight to meet today’s little mob of kids who are the hope for our future. I showed them some photos from my life and SEAL career, and they swarmed ever closer to my iPad…especially for an image of one of Saddam’s many gold-plated toilets!
I’m sitting RIGHT NOW in a monthly southwest Detroit community engagement meeting at a police precinct. Love to see societal solutions BY society.
Right now they’re having a detailed discussion on the “lighting commission.” I hadn’t thought about the difficult logistics of what seems so simple before, but this makes a lot of sense.
It’s challenging stuff, and keeping the streetlights on for every neighborhood is so important to spread/maintain safety for families…as well to reduce the spread of nefarious activity enabled by poor maintenance.
Vicious cycle or virtuous cycle; it’s our choice as citizens locally, and internationally.
My prayers go out for the recovery of this living legend in the endless striving toward dignity for every human.
In response to a New York Times piece today, I am finally weighing in on the gun control firefight. As is typical for Powerful Peace, I am not arbitrarily backing one position but begging for accountability in the debate. You can read the Times story in the link at the end. By way of introduction, here’s the gist: some states require that a man under protective order as sought by a partner is forced to hand over his firearms. Most states do not.
When we floated the story at the Powerful Peace Facebook Page, responses included a suggestion that the article’s premise was “make believe” because until a crime is committed, it’s dangerous to deprive a citizen of his right to bear arms. Another responded to that by saying that a single ride-along on a domestic violence call can demonstrate the value of taking at least some steps to actually protect a claimant.
I agree that the denial of rights based on non-crime is a slippery slope. Beyond that, I also agree that a certain amount of common sense (not so common in our polarized debates) is called for in situations like this. A protective order is not given in a willy-nilly fashion; judges award such an order to protect some other person…this clearly implies that the authority considers there to be a legitimate threat. Perhaps if there is a legitimate threat, but no commission of a crime, we can find that common ground I’m crying out for—perhaps in the form of a temporary surrender of the man’s weapons, and surrender only in the case of such legitimate domestic threat, until that threat is resolved, with some federally-guaranteed right to reclaim his licensed property upon resolution?
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say what many people are probably thinking on the subject of gun control: this MUST NOT remain a theoretical playtime of picking apart any question to justify either side’s position “lock, stock and barrel.” (That was a deliberate horrible pun.) Every participant in the question has an obligation to society at large to “man up and humble down” in contributing his or her best, most responsible efforts to improve upon today’s unacceptable status quo.
(Almost) everyone agrees that the Newtown massacre of our babies was an unimaginably painful and unacceptable tragedy, and that we should do everything humanly possible to prevent such in future. (Almost) everyone agrees that private citizens have no reasonable need or right to own shoulder-fired rockets. In between the elimination of all private gun ownership, and the right to own shoulder-fired rockets, there must be some common ground we can find to work toward solution.
And that’s only touching on the issue of gun control as regards Newtown. What if there really is no solution to be found in restricting access to firearms? Then the pro-gun side should bring other, credible preventive options to the table.
My personal beliefs?
– I am Pro on personal firearm ownership for hunting and personal protection, which includes concealed carry.
– I am Con on individuals or organizations stockpiling weapons in preparation for an imagined government “takeover”…we are the government, if we are responsible citizens. We still live in a democracy, and as such we need to focus more on exercising the democratic process than a general hysteria.
– Finally, I am Pro on common sense, humility and responsible maturity in working toward solutions—as one nation.
For God’s sake, someone tell me I’m not the only one disgusted by those at both ends who would fiddle while our Rome burns.
In Some States, Gun Rights Trump Orders of Protection
New York Times
Early last year, after a series of frightening encounters with her former husband, Stephanie Holten went to court in Spokane, Wash., to obtain a temporary order for protection.
Her former husband, Corey Holten, threatened to put a gun in her mouth and pull the trigger, she wrote in her petition. He also said he would “put a cap” in her if her new boyfriend “gets near my kids.” In neat block letters she wrote, “He owns guns, I am scared.”
The judge’s order prohibited Mr. Holten from going within two blocks of his former wife’s home and imposed a number of other restrictions. What it did not require him to do was surrender his guns.
About 12 hours after he was served with the order, Mr. Holten was lying in wait when his former wife returned home from a date with their two children in tow. Armed with a small semiautomatic rifle bought several months before, he stepped out of his car and thrust the muzzle into her chest. He directed her inside the house, yelling that he was going to kill her….
Read to the bottom (or click here) for an Associated Press piece on some rape victims’ experience of injustice within the U.S. military. This is an EXTREMELY important, brand-new story…about a very old problem. Our military is largely populated by young, fit, aggressive men who have been taught to further ratchet up their inherent aggressiveness for the crucial purpose of winning in combat. This is the nature of warfare as has been practiced and perfected over millennia. It is necessary, and it is right…and it has side effects.
Additionally, as discussed in the book Powerful Peace, “today’s military culture remains necessarily rougher than that of the civilian sector.” There is a not-so-subtle machismo affecting the communication, conduct, and willingness to speak up of many men and women in uniform.
My raising this hot issue is not to condemn, or vilify, or rabble-rouse, but to simply place a vital conversation on the table so that we as a society—military and civilian alike—can work toward improvement on a very real problem.
The vast majority of men and women in our Services are decent, honorable, and courageous people who not only reject sexual violation, but will stand against it and even step into harm’s way to stop it. However, the simple dynamic of cohabitation, with all of its surface-level and deeper, instinct-driven influences, is not so simple. In particular, the artificially enhanced pressure cooker of wartime service has led to higher rates of rape and other assault. Our war-focused military system is not yet optimized to either prevent in advance or follow up after an incident…I’ve seen this at home and abroad for nearly thirty years of military experience. It’s time for us to make an evolutionary leap in optimizing.
Just as I don’t vilify, I don’t have any time for man-bashing. In fact, the difficult topic of sexual mistreatment is intimately associated with the very current issue of women in combat roles; if we don’t have the courage and maturity to include that in the dialogue, we’re not even in a real dialogue. Some say unlimited access to every military role is every citizen’s right…others speculate that this abrupt decision was driven more by a politically passionate sense of “fairness,” without a thorough examination of all underlying considerations. Such an assessment should at least consider the incredibly complex universe of social, cultural, psychological, regulatory, physical and mental attribute, existing gender separation policy, and gender relations factors.
Instead, as in the SEAL-bashing film “G.I. Jane” (pitched by Demi Moore and her team at BUD/S while I was enjoying my initial training), shifts like this can sometimes be launched by authorities who “feel” it’s the right time…and the right thing to do.
The floor is open. Who’s ready for a little optimizing?
Military Sexual Assault Victims Detail Humiliation
“WASHINGTON (AP) — In a stinging rebuke of the military’s efforts to curb sexual assault, members of a Senate panel hammered Defense Department officials on Wednesday for making too little progress in combating the crimes and failing to improve a military justice system that victims described as slow and uncaring.
“During a two-part hearing, the panel heard harrowing testimony from several victims, who said military justice is broken and pushed for Congress to take action to stem the rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment that they said are pervasive in all the service branches.”
Read the rest of the article