A Review: The Art of Waging Peace: A Strategic Approach to Improving Our Lives and the World by Paul Chappell

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The Art of Waging PeaceThis is a powerful book. It give us some options and strategies for stopping the endless engagement in war after war all around the planet. Since 1900 we have witnessed 249 wars worldwide yielding over 77 million fatalities (http://www.war-memorial.net/wars_all.asp). This number represents primarily military fatalities and we know there are millions of civilian fatalities as well. The number does reflect the families destroyed or the lives ruined. The cost of waging war is extremely high— financially, morally, socially, and personally. And yet they continue. We see pictures on TV and the Internet showing injured and dead bodies and we seen it so much that sometimes it just doesn’t register. It isn’t happening to us—yet.

Paul Chappell speaks to this in a plea to turn our attention to waging peace rather than war.

As a 2002 West Point graduate he was deployed to Baghdad. He left active duty in November 2009 as a captain and now serves as the peace leadership director for the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. He says he learned about waging peace in his West Point Studies.

In his book, he elaborates on three kinds of change that will empower us to bring about peace—societal change, spiritual change, and ideological change—and shows how this change takes place gradually, how it has changed for minorities and women over the past century. He details a non-violent approach that can be used on a personal, community, national and global levels to bring about a different approach to handling disagreements, violence and aggression.

He states, “To replace the old paradigm of war with a new paradigm of waging peace, we must be pioneers who can push the boundaries of human understanding. We must be doctors who can cure the virus of violence. We must be soldiers of peace who can do more than preach to the choir. And we must be artists who will make the world our masterpiece.”

The book is well written and holds your attention. Further, it is well documented and has an impressive bibliography for those who want to do their own research. It should be read by everyone who is concerned about the direction we are going: conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats, religious and non-religious, men and women, students and graduates—any one who believes that we don’t have to do things just because “we’ve always done it this way” should read this book. If you don’t agree, at least you know what some others are thinking. You will realize that you have options.


For those of you who think war is the only way, I encourage you to look at your children and grandchildren and ask yourself if you think war is the only way to solve a problem. Don’t we all have the responsibility of giving “the art of waging peace” our best shot? You may not be convinced by Chappell’s book, but you will have some new ideas to chew on. If we continue to stick our heads in the sand and do nothing we will have peace alright—it will be the peace of the vanquished.

Self Improvement is much about winning the war inside you. Sometimes we have to pay attention to the war going on around us and work, like we work within ourselves, to bring about peace for the world we live in.