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Updated 20 Jan 2008

This page summarizes concepts distilled from the pages on this site.

Terrorism is a deeply emotional feature of our times--for all sides. Finding our way is so important that we hope you will join us and research it for yourself and assist us and others with your findings.

Surely most world nations realize the value of peace for all of humankind. Surely the "how-to" knowledge exists to make the world a better and safer place. And just as surely, exemplary social models already exist if not quite in pure form.

It is abundantly clear from history that humanity has employed cast energies on producing weapons for war but comparatively little on discovering and developing the tools of peace. If this strikes the religious devout as off base, we would remind them of the long and violent wars and crusades led by religious warriors. Times have not changed; the three great monotheisms in our times are locked in deadly warfare. It is all about power, and the most extreme among us co-opt the rest of us.

Ethnicity and monotheism have been a source of conflict for millennia. But that need not be. Just as the potential for conflict is written in our genes; so also is the script for peace. Just as surely, we have evolved an ability to think for ourselves and decide our futures. On these points, the Neocons miss the latter two, so sure are they that humanity is intrinsically violent and armies need wars just for exercise, that they are blind to the greater good, not to mention evil. Their desire to master the world also clouds all of their otherwise good sense. In the next section, we report some very hopeful social research.

Social Research and Groundwork
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One root of violence on road to peace is now apparent: segregation. Ashutosh Varshney compared peaceful and violent cities in India with similar ethnic proportions of Muslims and Hindus. His book, Ethnic Conflict and Civic Life: Hindus and Muslims in India, has some scientific basis and gives us hope. His kernel observation is: ethnic integration in all facets at all levels of society is a key to harmony.

Varshney also found that uncoordinated integration, as on playgrounds and neighborhoods, is effective as well. For other successful efforts, see: Hope. What the peaceful cities did and how they did it through dialogue on the local and individual levels provides us direction complete with a road map. Their very harmony is a goal achieved.

Patterns Varshney found that correlated with ethnic strife continued after his book came out, confirming the predictive ability of his conclusions. It is heartening to know that the UN began working with Varshney even before his book was published.

There is more. Phillip Zimbardo, of Stanford Prison Experiment fame became involved in the Abu Ghraib obscenities. From those two experiences he saw a pattern of blind behavior he dubbed The System. Essentially the system arises from the conventionalism built into the genes of the Authoritarian Personality first identified by Adorno and cohorts, but simplified substantially to just three traits by Bob Altemeyer. Altemeyer's contribution led us to connect his his three traits with our genetic origins. Along the way, Stanley Milgram provided the most scientific study of the Authoritarian Personality to date. His results, though his language is different, dovetails neatly with Adorno, Zimbardo, Altemeyer, and Martha Stout. Stout and Hare add the sociopathic element, also known as the psychopathic element. The distinction between the two terms is of no practical consequence. These people, some 1-4% of all of us, represent the most extreme members of the Authoritarian population. They are the ones who hijack organizations for their own ends, which are always antisocial, and often violent. Something like half of our violent criminals in prison are sociopaths.

So now the picture is becoming clearer. The ebbs and flows of history become more understandable. It is the genes within us that are competing in ways that leads to survival of violent genes, but not to peaceful co-existence. That realization in turn leads to the other parts of our genetic makeup, that are expressed by genes for herding, parenting, and compassion are nature's way of limiting the damage induced by the violent genes. These "peaceful genes" offset our violent tendencies. This feature helps explain why nations differ so much in their violence, why cities within each nation differ so much with each other, and finally, and most basically, why individuals differ so much among them.

In keeping with the foregoing and other pages on this site, we collect and organize guiding principles and methods for moving forward. These follow:

Strategic Goal
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Arrive at a comity of nations whose governing principle is preserving humankind and life on Earth where each nation and each individual has:

  • freedom from want, fear, terror, war, and genocide,
  • freedom of speech and worship, and
  • equal opportunity free from discrimination.

Guiding Principles
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Conditions and situations shown Historically and by Social Experiment to bring peace shall be employed; we must learn from mistakes, not repeat them; we must learn from societies that have maintained peace for long periods of time. Integrating society at all levels both by law and and custom is one such means.

  • We must be patient, Rome was not built in a day and the same is true of peace--it is a job for generations.
  • Mutual understanding in dialogue can ensure peace; war never has, except on a temporary basis for the winners.
  • Diplomatic and social cooperation among ALL nations is required.
  • Democratic governance must extend to all peoples, individually and collectively [not a mere Neocon idea, and certainly not as a ruse to take over oil supplies].
  • Nation states must recognize a governance system that adheres to the Strategic Goal above and provides for UN sovereignty over all things nuclear; the UN is a suitable beginning platform.
  • The UN must protect national boundaries unless all concerned and bordering countries, along with the UN, agree to a voluntary alteration. Countries may merge or divide only with consent of the goverened.
  • To eliminate humiliation and alienation, all nations must rise to comparable levels of modernity. International trade must be free of restraint so that the earth resources may be shared equitably in common.
  • All people must be free to choose their religious faith, their career, their life-mate, and their political associations consistent with the Strategic Goal.
  • All people must proceed on the principle that respect must be earned; it cannot be demanded or imposed; the leading societies must lead by example.
  • Education must include anthropology and natural history as well as local human history in the broader context of world human history with emphasis on the political, sociological, religious, psychological, scientific, and technological forces that have operated throughout humankind's presence on Earth.
  • Women must be equal to men in all aspects before the law.
  • We must not destroy our very habitat through senselessly catering to special interests.

International (Nations United) Action
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There can be no freedom from fear and no security until all things nuclear are brought under universal control. The United Nations, the European Union, NATO and other alliances the world over can play positive roles. A substantial Reformation of the world must happen: it is time to start.

A solution we advocate is to begin by having all things Nuclear operate only under special controls with the preservation of our species (and life on earth) uppermost in mind. The UN (modified and streamlined to be responsive and responsible) is the proper purview. Nuclear governance must:
  • require each nation to yield enough sovereignty to ensure the safety of humankind; this cannot be limited to North Korea and Iran; it must ultimately extend to all nations;
  • guarantee each nation has equal access to nuclear technologies for peaceful purposes;
  • include uranium mining, extraction, refining, isotope separations, material preparations, and the distribution of products for peaceful purposes;
  • maintain nuclear armed missiles in strategic locations, in high earth orbit, or on the moon exclusively for deflecting or pulverizing errant asteroids, comets, or oversized bolides in Earth-collision orbits;
  • include the design, building, operating, maintaining, repairing, refueling, and decommissioning of reactors; extend to safely handling, processing, and disposing of waste products;
  • be everywhere sovereign for nuclear-related activities; no square meter of earth surface can be exempt from inspection for any reason whatsoever by the responsible UN agency; freely involve the media and citizen experts in site inspections; employ inspection intervals short enough to prevent cheating;
  • secure nuclear materials to at least the level of Fort Knox;
  • be managed in a transparent manner with materials checks and balances that are sure to work; provide accounting systems with double and triple independent audits for accuracy of measurement; use standard units of measure in record keeping; be open to review and inspection by the media and expert citizens;
  • be as careful in selecting personnel at all levels as it is with the material itself; insure that each worker, manager, and leader involved has demonstrated emotional stability and commitment to this greater service for all humanity; provide an ethos where each such involved person would individually and collectively take high pride in being a guardian of humankind, indeed of life on earth; select each involved person by "profiles" using the latest psychometric and other psychological assessment tools, prior psycho-social history, and other techniques such as genetic testing that become available over time; make all such profiles available to the public for inspections while keeping individual identities private; provide security and high social rewards for whistle blowers among those involved; and
  • guarantee that inspections do not threaten individual freedoms and privacy; guard the rights of all world citizens individually and collectively by appropriate checks and balances; must insure that all inspections otherwise respect local laws and customs; deploy the highest levels of technology available to prevent or minimize unnecessary intrusions into individual privacy and their societies.

Diplomatic level dialogues can address and resolve the nuclear issue. The door will then be open for a comity of nations (all nations) to form where each nation respects the rights of each other nation and celebrates their differences. Such a comity is necessarily part and parcel of a lasting peace. UN control of all things nuclear can provide a salvation through reformation of governance. Nuclear governance by a world democracy of nations under UN auspices is not merely possible, it is necessary. Such a world where all nations are united in preserving humankind could, in dialogue, eliminate war and organized terrorism for all time.

We offer this as a starting point, not as a complete recipe. Each step will add a level of wisdom; each step will enable the next; each step will open vistas now unseen for both opportunity and challenge.

National Level Actions
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  • Integrate the Guiding Principles, above, into the ethos of each individual, society, and nation; strive for political enlightenment and accommodation by moving toward a common good; replace special-interest groups with common-interest groups.
  • Begin dialogue between and among nations on the diplomatic level. This requires all sides to focus on common interests and issues, and to do so in an organized as well as a personal manner.
  • Ally with receptive nations sharing the above guiding principles and international actions. Discover the root causes of terrorism and use appropriate means to reduce or eliminate them.
  • Form a Core Group of Nations bound by the guiding principles under the auspices of the United Nations, and other international alliances as appropriate.
  • A Core Group of Nations demonstrates the efficacy of the process and works toward dialogue with non-participants.
  • Consider and implement other means to bring non-participating nations into partnership employing military force only as an absolute last resort and with "legal approval" of the Core Group and the UN.
  • Foster cultures that free people to be what they can be; minimize influence of special interests by law; moderate expressions of extremism; earn the respect of other nations by moral behavior.

Individual Actions
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Remember: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

  • Keep terrorism in perspective; it is multiples less dangerous to us individually than are auto accidents or murder by guns, and orders of magnitude less important than dying from natural causes.
  • Learn what motivates and radicalizes terrorists and avoid these conditions and environments for our children.
  • Demand that our leaders put the common interest above the special interest.
  • Adopt Strategic Goal and Guiding Principles as a way of life.
  • Understand ourselves and our neighbors.
  • Educate ourselves and our children to stay abreast of current events in the context of the pendulums of history.
  • Practice Dialogue until it essentially becomes our preferred response; we must listen if we want to be heard; we must respond rather than preach; we must discuss rather than demand.
  • Look for and address common concerns in dialogue.
  • Begin person-to-person dialogues beyond neighborhoods and across borders.
  • Rear each individual to have a balance between internal and external controls in their psyches, where each person can think for him/herself, such that separating provable truth from faith and fiction becomes second nature for all humankind.
  • Learn about politics as we network and make contacts; question dogmatic policies by logic, information that indicates otherwise, and historical precedents.
  • Make our views known by voting and contacting local, state, and national leaders to voice our questions, thoughts, and concerns. Do newsworthy things on behalf of peace and understanding via dialogue; the larger the group involved, the more effective this technique will be.
  • Run for political office.
  • Maintain credibility by avoiding propaganda.
  • Join or support a peace movement such as The Peace Corps or any of its private counterparts.

Things to Avoid

Nations Must Avoid:

  • Nuclear weaponry falling into the hands of extremists could doom civilization.
  • Complacency and lack of preparedness will make us vulnerable to heightened or renewed terror.
  • Bullying or arrogant behavior alienates friends and allies.
  • Supporting local despots loses support of young people in those countries that are desperate for change.
  • Preemptive war without the approval of allies and the UN alienates allies, invites terrorism.
  • Behaving in ways that destroy credibility by supporting Zionism, ignoring genocide, or going after Iraq but not North Korea, are illustrative examples.
  • Assumption that motivations are not transparent for all to see; other people are keenly aware of our real interests in this networked world; walking out of the South African Conference on racism and not signing the treaty on Women's Human Rights are prime examples.
  • Ignoring potential economic and political fallout: the war with Iraq could galvanize Islam in ways we cannot even imagine, or even fracture Pakistan and radicalize Egypt.
  • Ignoring history: postwar Japanese and European recovery models do not fit the Middle East.
  • Abusing the environment and biosphere: antagonizes friends and foes alike.
  • Exploiting other people, nations, or their resources: reducing others to a state of hopelessness brings on the suicide bombers; Palestine is the prime example.
  • Ignoring genocide: this is a crime almost the equal of genocide itself.
  • Self-serving, America First, actions or attitudes: deprives us of the moral high ground and any real chance for understanding terror or doing anything effective about it.
  • Increasing the economic gaps: between Americans and their World brethren as well as among Americans themselves.

Individuals Must Avoid

  • Remaining ignorant of the real issues: supporting politicians naively or on the basis of photo-ops rarely produces leadership required; party lines and co-opted phrases from the opposition often cloud true intent.
  • Complacency: failure to vote can put the wrong folks in power, provide unreal sense of security.
  • Failing to think for one's self: could doom democracy;
  • Developing an Authoritarian personality: a job for parents, schools and all other institutions in position to shape society through individual personalities.
  • Mindsets that prevent dialogue; these play into the hands of extremists who thrive on terror and war.
  • Allowing irrational fear: makes us oblivious to losing our constitutional rights; prevents rational assessments leading to perspective.

Resources In Review

Links summarizing our findings and discussions:

Research Hub
Origins of violence and Avenues toward peace

Adorno's Authoritarian Personality is expressed by:

  • Excessive conformity,
  • Submissiveness to authority,
  • Intolerance,
  • Insecurity,
  • Superstition, and
  • Rigid, stereotyped thought patterns.

Milgam's formulation included eight traits that were similar while Altemeyer reduced them to just three:
  • Submission
  • Aggression
  • Conventionalism

Authoritarianism While finding comfort in the identification of submissive behavior towards authority, the authoritarian person directs his/her aggression towards other groups, often racial minorities. This is an attempt to relieve the feeling of personal weakness with a search for absolute answers and strengths in the outside world.

Dialogue "We must listen receptively to others if we want them to listen to us."

Extremism "Extremism permeates society. Witness the persecution of Galileo, the burning of so-called "witches" in Salem, and present day random and school shootings."

Fundamentalism "Fundamentalism is a global phenomenon. It infects every major religion and indeed also affects the arts and sciences. In science at least, fundamentalism has been an historically significant deterrent to progress

Hope "Looking beyond terror, war and genocide, one can see definite progress toward peace since WW II. A European Union came into being and is growing. NATO is now including former enemies. These are historic facts. In 2002, an important book, by Ashutosh Varshney, analyzing the sources of ethnic violence in India provides one operative mechanism for that progress. Together, these events vastly improve prospects for peace."

Monotheism and Violence "Humanity cannot agree on whose God is God and that is something worth fighting over. ...the three monotheisms are multiples more violent than atheism or the Eastern religions or philosophies"

Need to Unite "Our world grows in knowledge and yet fragments in its wisdom as we witness widespread dissension creating extremism and its deadly brood of terrorism. We must realize there is a greater responsibility toward humanity..."

Nuclear Terror and Nuclear Solutions: The foremost danger facing humankind today is the confluence of extremism and nuclear weapons. This require extraordinary physical and political controls."

Pax Romana Octavian and his similarly enlightened successors brought peace to Rome for two centuries, the most peaceful period in history. It can happen.

Reframe the Question "Can we up-level the discussion beyond superficial and dangerous retribution? This is the the cause level, rather than the symptom level that the US government seems to be addressing."

Zionism "Understanding the Zionist movement gives perspective to the Palestinian conflict. If we ignore this relatively hidden history we do so at our peril."

Recommendation A strengthened UN will be needed. A UN backed Marshall Plan working at community and family levels world-wide seems a bare minimum.

Bin Laden declared it. This is jihad. We have some powerful techniques at our disposal. The near universal urge for freedom is by far our most powerful. See Ode to America. Dialogue, always the first choice in relationships, can bring about a World Reformation by peaceful means for nations willing to engage. The Nuclear Threat makes a reformation imperative.

See also Hope. Dialogue will not always work. When it doesn't, political consensus must be used to pressure deviant regimes toward peace by damping out their own extremist cults by appropriate means.

If that doesn't work, military solutions with UN approval would be used. Stable nation building must follow to ensure extremism does not reemerge; it may take a generation or more, especially in the less developed countries, to develop a stable middle class appreciative of stable secular governance and supportive of same.

This is a time of high stakes. Iraq is now in the throes of an "instant-nation-building" designed to give Bush another term. Hussein's capture will undoubtedly weaken the Baath Party. But ancient rivalries and old scores remain with Islamic fundamentalists ever in the background ready to torpedo movements toward democracy. Terror attacks will continue as long as the US has a presence in Iraq. Bremer realizes at least some of the immediate problems; he cannot effectively rule Iraq with the staff he has been given, and he has asked for a great deal of specialized help. It will take a lot more than that. As of this revision (Dec 2003), we can look at an accomplishment:

This came with some consequences:
  • Total incidence of terror has increased.
  • Non-Iraqi terrorists are now engaged.
  • No weapons of mass destruction of any variety were found.
  • Not a single connection with al Qa'ida turned up; papers found with Hussein indicate there never was any.
  • Important allies were antagonized, weakening our moral position.
  • NATO has been somewhat marginalized.
  • The heat on Iraq missed bin Laden and al Qa'ida.

By erecting its literal and physical Iron Wall, Israel is admitting that terrorism is in Palestine to stay; violent responses to violence solve nothing as long as the core problems remain.

Afghanistan is still far from stabilized; culturally, Afghanistan is still a feudal nation. Iraq is little better, now that the Bush Administration has destroyed its infrastructure, and with its heavy hand, instigated internal insurrections, each of which receives aid from special interests outside. This sequence of events is true to the historic script of violent politics so ably described by William Polk.

Reasons for Dialogue
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As for what we can do, reaching an understanding of the principles in terror, both sides. Terrorism is ghastly--no argument there. Suicide bombing is perhaps its worst expression. What makes a suicide bomber? Of the tools individuals have available, Dialogue is certainly one of the most important. Dialogue wins hands down in the intelligence race too. Interrogators who speak the native language of the detainee, who understand his/her culture, and who can sympathize with their plight, can elicit information available no other way. This is not the macho style to be sure. But it works. Once communication is open and two-way, it is an easy matter in principle to cure the problem that drives people to extreme measures.

Of course that means at the end of the day a leveling of the playing fields of economics, opportunity, personal freedom and liberty for all humankind. This is a worthy goal and has been explicitly stated by this Administration numerous times. The catch is that the folks now in charge mouth these words while driving hard to dominate the world even further than we now do. Putting American self-interest is foremost, forget the cost. We are not in Iraq to fight terror, we are there to protect "our" energy supplies. Bankrupting America in the process may even serve the plutocrat's interests, because it is the little people who now "own" the national debt.

Many people are naturally dialogic. Those who are not may wish to think about how to become more so. Most basically, dialogue means feeling with the other person.

  • Listening. Listen carefully, non-judgmentally. Listen with sympathy for the person talking.
  • Respecting. This gives the other person his/her self respect, a feeling of equality. It helps remove defensive reactions that stop all communications.
  • Suspending. The trick here is not to rush in with your opinion. Allow the other to develop theirs, to put it on the table.
  • Voicing. Now it is our turn. Be calm; we reply simply with our take on matters. We do so with integrity; we must be real. Lack of sincerity on our part only creates more defensiveness.

Beyond Dialogue to Action.
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If you would like to assist a progressive group with some clout, we recommend:

MoveOn Joan Blades and Wes Boyd. "MoveOn helps busy people be effective citizens. MoveOn is committed to broadening participation to counter the influence of moneyed interests and partisan extremes." Additional links appear on Blogs For Peace.
You may also make your thoughts known directly via:

White House: Contact information.
Senator listing, click on your senator, and contact him/her from there.
US House of Representatives: Representatives' Web Sites Listed

Links to supporting web pages on RoadtoPeace follow: