Conversations With America: New Solutions for Today's Complex Conflicts

Posted by Rainy Young
August 12, 2013
Conversations With America: New Solutions for Today's Complex Conflicts

Ambassador Rick Barton, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, will hold a discussion with Cheryl Benton, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Public Affairs, on August 21, 2013. The conversation will highlight the Department’s efforts to advance U.S. national security by working with partners in priority countries to break cycles of violent conflict, strengthen civilian security, and mitigate crisis.  The discussion will be available for on-demand viewing on YouTube and

You are invited to participate by submitting questions, some of which will be selected for response during the taping.  Submit your questions below on DipNote, the Department of State’s official blog, and join the ongoing discussion via Twitter using the hashtag #AskAmbBarton. Please submit questions via DipNote and Twitter as soon as possible for consideration.

View other Conversations with America here and by accessing the Conversations with America video podcasts on iTunes.



Allan J.
Virginia, USA
August 16, 2013
I would like to pose the following question for Amb. Barton in the "Conversations With America: New Solutions for Today's Complex Conflicts" "What role should food and nutrition assistance programs play in contributing to the prevention and/or solution of complex conflicts?" Regards,Allan Jury, Senior Advisor, World Food Program USA
Eric J.
New Mexico, USA
August 16, 2013

I look at diplomacy as "preventive medicine" to conflict, generally speaking...or the art of compromise in some respects.

Problem is, there's a lot of folks that would rather shoot it out at high noon rather than give an inch, and seek an equitable political solution.

 Thus the Arab Spring is fast becoming the Islamic bloodbath, over ideologies.

  We have an opportunity to show the Russians how to weild influence with a client state to keep the peace, for if the US can succesfully get the Egyptian military to "Park it"...and then get Morsi to tell his supporters to "go home, the brotherhood's experiment in governing was a failure and they need to figure out why."....then maybe the US can use it's influence to create a space for political evolution to proceed, rather than confrontation and civil war developing, as in Syria.

 Given the President's statement on Egypt, which may serve as a model of how the US gov. defines its relationship with the people of any nation in general terms...Our values determine the solutions we seek, nothing new in that.

 You could update some relative lexicon, since folks like to beat the US over the head with "regime change" , like it was a baseball bat to use on "American hegemony" ...

 To put it bluntly, as a nation, we seek nothing less than "regime replacement therapy" as the ultimate solution to conflict.

 In order for new lexicon to become standard, everybody must have a clear idea what it the term "Democracy R US, sayeth the people."

 Democracy is in effect, by design, a well regulated process of regime replacement therapy in a timely manner. Ergo elections.

 It can take other forms, like the overthrow of dictatorships, sponsors of terrorism, or exteremist groups, and may involve conflict...but which results in the betterment of a people living in peace. Ego the "therapy" part of the equasion.

 Folks have some pretty fair recent examples in Mali, Lybia, Tunisia, ....and what these democratic experiments evolve into will depend on how stable their incubation period is...

  Like my friend from Afghanistan once said to me ..."Now that the King no longer wants to be king, everybody wants to be king!"

 Our democracy would have utterly failed if not for G. Washington saying he didn't wish to be "King", back in the day. Just saying...

  I'm reminded of a fellow who once found himself out on some tarmac in his pajamas, minus a country to lead....I think Morsi probably has it a little better than that....but he also has a responsibility to the Egyptian people as the one who could call for an end to violence and a "rethink" on mixing religion and politics.

  In the meantime, having once suggested that the Russians "reposess" (and I don't mean simply cut funding), every weapon they ever sold to Assad's government, far be it for me not to suggest my own government do the same with Egypt's military equipment our taxpayer dollars have provided.

  For if it comes to that, we'll be providing good example of what a responsible member of the family of nations does to keep the peace of nations.

  Puts "arms control" in a whole new perspective doesn't it?

 In terms of those who's aim it is to sow conflict and destabilize nations, governments must seek the people's help to isolate and cancel their agenda.

 And in cases where total war is being waged upon a people by their own government, there is no room for international attitudes which result in a "coalition of the unwilling" to eliminate any and all capacity of such a regime, simply because "regime change" is an unpopular turn of phrase. Better to remove them by force rather than watch them commit genocide.

  So along with old values, and new lexicon, you gotta have an evolving attitude to go with that new perspective, in order to arrive at "new solutions"...

  I see the current international legal framework as unable to meet the current challenges various conflicts pose...and often lead to them becoming intractable, with no diplomatic solution in sight, or sustainable in their methods of conflict resolution in other cases.

  By proof one has only to count the number of conflicts presntly on this planet.

  No wonder you guys are looking for new solutions....


Henry L.
Connecticut, USA
August 20, 2013
Want to stop cycle of violence around the world? Then stop destroying democracies: Iran in 1953, Congo in 1960, Chile 1973, Nicaragua 1980's, Yugoslavia 1990's, Honduras 2009. Egypt 2013. And all those in between. Stop supporting totalitarian regimes. Stop invading countries. Stop assassinating leaders. Talk is cheap. And hypocritical What an abysmal set of policies. Support the security of the 99% not the wealth of the 1%.
June F.
Oregon, USA
August 20, 2013
How can you possibly hope to "break cycles of violent conflict" when the US is selling BILLIONS OF DOLLARS of WEAPONS to countries with violent conflicts like Syria, Israel and Egypt ? (In Israel, they're used to oppress Palestinians, and in Egypt they are used to kill civilian supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood (probably because Israel, in their "direct communications" with Al-Sissi, is telling Egypt's army that "Muslims only understand force".) Surely you don't believe that tired old line?
Robert G.
District Of Columbia, USA
September 2, 2013
The Aggreements of this individual peace-keepings that which goes to the best world and the living.Therefore We the people,so.. As an American...Must contain formed what gets ever and till so ever. I Thank You. Mr Robert W. Ground.


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