The older members of the Wicked Problems team cut their political teeth during the Vietnam war. Therefore, we had rarely looked to the U.S. military as a force for peace or any other type of constructive political change for that matter.
However, much of that has changed since the end of the Cold War and 9/11. Increasingly, members of the military and peacebuilders have found that their interests overlap and that that they have to work together in efforts to reach a growing number of common goals.
If anything, some military leaders have moved even faster and farther than the NGO community. Thus, the Pentagon took the lead in creating a community of practice among disaster response professionals that now includes everything from networks of first responders to social media experts to technologists who are finding ways to use drones for peace.
Ten years ago, the Pentagon declared that conflict prevention and post-war reconstruction were as important as war fighting. Although it still has a long way to go (to say the least) in turning the goals of Directive 3000.05 into reality, the fact that it has gone this far reflects the growing conviction among professional soldiers that military force is far from being the best option in countering violent extremism.
For all the limits to “the new military,” owever, it is hard to deny how much senior thought leaders I the American military have changed. And, the U.S. military lags behind those in Canada, the Scandinavian countries, and elsewhere that have had peacekeeping as one of their central missions for decades.