Benjamin Sledge is a wounded combat veteran with tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, serving most of his time under Special Operations (Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command). He is the recipient of the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and two Army Commendation Medals for his actions overseas. He was at the front line of some of the deadliest battles in Iraq and Afghanistan, served in Special Operations Command, on the Pakistan border after September 11, and eventually in the deadliest city battle of the Iraq War, Ramadi. In this interview, I speak to Benjamin Sledge about the realities of war, how soldiers prepare for combat, and what war reveals about the best, and worst, of humanity. In this conversation, Sledge reveals an unflinchingly honest portrait of war that few dare to tell.

Thought Economics

It’s easy to overlook the underlying strategic forces of war, to see it solely as a series of errors, accidents, and emotions gone awry. It’s also easy to forget that war shouldn’t happen—and most of the time it doesn’t. Around the world, there are millions of hostile rivalries, yet only a fraction erupt into violence, a fact too many accounts overlook. Christopher Blattman is the Ramalee E. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict Studies at the University of Chicago. He is co-lead the university’s Development Economics Center and the Obama Foundation Scholars Program. In his new book, Why We Fight, Christopher Blattman reminds us that most rivals loathe one another in peace. War is too costly to fight, so enemies almost always find it better to split the pie than spoil it for everyone or struggle over thin slices. In those rare instances when fighting ensues, we should ask: What kept rivals from compromise? He combines decades of economics, political science, psychology, and real-world interventions to lay out the root causes and remedies for war, showing that violence is not the norm; that there are only five reasons why conflict wins over compromise; and how peacemakers turn the tides through tinkering, not transformation. In this interview, I speak to Professor Christopher Blattman about why we fight, the root causes of war, and how we can effectively move to peace. We talk about how to build resilient societies, how best to detect fragility, and the remedies that shift incentives away from violence and get parties back to dealmaking.

Thought Economics

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has led an incredible career in diplomacy, peacebuilding and human rights. He was the UN human rights chief from 2014-2018, was awarded the Stockholm prize for human rights in 2015 and the Tulip prize in 2018.  In January 2014, he served as president of the UN Security Council. In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein about human rights, the role of diplomacy in our world, and why we so urgently need the tools of diplomacy and peacebuilding in our world right now.

Thought Economics

In one of the darkest moments of modern civilisation, over six million Jews were killed by Nazi Germany in a state-sponsored genocide.  This event (The Holocaust) killed over two-thirds of Europe’s entire Jewish population. It took decades for the Jewish people and the rest of the world to make-sense of what happened during World War II, and for most of us- it is impossible to imagine how the very few survivors of such atrocities could rebuild their lives, but some did; and those individuals have gone-on to become ambassadors of hope, of peace, and of reconciliation at a time where it would appear our world has not just forgotten the past, but is doomed to repeat it.  I had the privilege of speaking to three Holocaust survivors who have gone-on to become humanitarians, peace-activists and educators. Walter Ziffer (author of ‘Confronting the Silence, A Holocaust Survivor’s Search for God’), Iby Knill (author of ‘Woman Without a Number’) and Eva Schloss MBE (author of ‘Eva’s Story: A Survivor’s Tale by the Stepsister of Anne Frank’).

Thought Economics

In this exclusive series of interviews, we speak to seven experts on conflict and peace building.  Four Nobel Peace Prize Winners; Prof. Jody Williams (Chair, Nobel Women’s Initiative), Dr. Shirin Ebadi (Human Rights Lawyer and Educator), President Maarti Ahtisaari (Former President, Finland and Founder of CMI – The Crisis Management Initiative), Lech Wałęsa (Former President, Poland) alongside Marina Cantacuzino (Founder, The Forgiveness Project), Ben Ferencz (Former Prosecutor, Nuremberg War Crimes Trial) and Bertie Ahern (Former Taoiseach – Irish Prime Minister).  We discuss the causes of war and conflict, the impact of these phenomena on society, and look at what it will take to achieve a world at peace.

Thought Economics

As we sit here today, London remains in the grip of escalating riots, violence and disruption as young people have taken to the streets across the city looting stores, torching vehicles, engaging in arson and more.  As the Guardian newspaper reported, “London’s emergency services were on full-scale alert on Monday…

Thought Economics

In this exclusive interview, we talk to Joseph Cirincione, President of Ploughshares Fund and expert advisor to the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States. We discuss the role of nuclear weapons in global security, the threat they pose to humanity, and why we must move towards a world free of the nuclear threat.

Thought Economics

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