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Building Solutions to Post-conflict Stabilization

Department of Defense's Strategic Multilayer Assessment (SMA) Speaker Series

SMA hosted a speaker session with Professor Beatrice Heuser (University of Glasgow) and guest host, Major Jack Gaines (One CA Podcast), as part of its SMA General Speaker Series


The optimal outcome of any military conflict is a lasting peace in the post-war period. Professor Heuser discusses insights from historical and ongoing conflicts that shed light on the factors influencing the establishment of enduring peace. Drawing from the works of past philosophers and historians like Henry Humphry Evans Lloyd and Christine de Pizan, who pioneered research on conflict and peace in their times, Professor Heuser explores various observations. For example, Christine de Pizan pointed out that cruelty from an occupying force will often multiply the number of enemies they face, while Lloyd points out that the aim of a war or a revolt is to correct a grievance. Additionally, during the evolution of a conflict, the war aims among the combatants often change. War itself tends to polarize societies, increasing the need for an intentional and preplanned transition to peace. 


A pre-planned approach for establishing lasting peace during the conflict is a strong indicator of the success of peace processes. The successful transition to peace in post-World War II Germany serves as an example, contrasting with the failed peace plan in Afghanistan. The Allies achieved success in Germany due to highly coordinated leadership among allied nations, a substantial ratio of occupying soldiers to German civilians, and a widespread sense of defeat among the German populace. In contrast, the failure in Afghanistan resulted from a lack of alignment in intra-war and post-war objectives among the allies, along with significant cultural and language barriers between occupying soldiers and the Afghan population. 


Professor Heuser reviewed other factors contributing to the success or failure of post-war peace processes, including the treatment of civilians by occupying forces, such as the occupying soldiers’ assistance in allocating food and humanitarian aid. She also discussed why some civilian populations blame the citizens of an adversarial government for acts of war and others do not. The level of accountability attributed to citizens of an adversary nation regarding acts of war fluctuates due to numerous factors. These include the extent of their involvement in establishing their government, whether they endure persecution for abstaining from supporting the war effort, and their initiation of atonement for war crimes promptly following the conflict. The forgiveness and atonement by citizens of opposing governments can contribute to an enduring peace after a conflict. 


To access the speaker’s biography and a recording of the session, please visit 

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War itself tends to polarize societies, increasing the need for an intentional and preplanned transition to peace.  backrooms game

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