Symposium at Ashland University Considers Question: Can We Prevent War?

Symposium at Ashland University Considers Question: Can We Prevent War?

1/16/14 ASHLAND, Ohio - The nature of war is changing from multi-nation wars typical in the 20th century to regional war and civil war. This change in war-making challenges nations, including the United States, to reconsider how they and non-governmental agencies can intervene in conflicts to create peace and to prevent humanitarian disasters such as those that have occurred in Rwanda, Cambodia, Darfur and now in Syria.

A symposium titled “The New Realities — War, Policy, Active Prevention” will bring together in Ashland on Jan. 30 three experts on foreign policy, security and conflict resolution. The event takes place from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Ridenour Room in the Dauch College of Business and Economics on the Ashland University campus. The event is free and the public is invited to attend.

The speakers will address such questions as:

·         How do we keep civil wars from becoming regional wars?

·         What policies do we need to change to be effective without intervening militarily?

·         How do we change these policies?

·         Can we intervene in countries whose governments have failed? 

·         Can we prevent genocide and humanitarian disaster?

The event is sponsored by the Ashland Center for Nonviolence and is partially underwritten by a grant from the United States Institute of Peace.

“This is a unique discussion as we have experts talking across discipline boundaries,” according to John Stratton, executive director of the Ashland Center for Nonviolence. “Normally the academics talk to the academics and the people doing the work on the ground talk to others on the ground. Here we have a noted historian and theorist of war, an expert on policy, and an expert on atrocities prevention and conflict resolution in a conversation exploring the challenges and possibilities of preventing war.” 

The three experts are John Mueller, Woody Hayes chair of National Security Studies at the Mershon Center for International Security Studies, professor of political science at The Ohio State University and a Cato Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C.; Bridget Moix, Cumbie Research Fellow, Genocide Prevention Program, School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University; and Michael Shank, director of Foreign Policy for the Friends Committee on National Legislation in Washington, D.C.

Mueller is currently working on terrorism and particularly on the reactions (and costly over-reactions) it often inspires. His book, “Terrorism, Security, and Money: Balancing the Risks, Benefits, and Costs of Homeland Security,” written in collaboration with engineer and risk analyst Mark Stewart, applies cost-benefit analysis to issues of homeland security (2011, Oxford University Press). His book “Atomic Obsession: Nuclear Alarmism from Hiroshima to Al Qaeda,” (2010, Oxford University Press) suggests that atomic terrorism is highly unlikely and that efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation frequently have damaging results. The New York Times called his book, “Overblown: How Politicians and the Terrorism Industry Inflate National Security Threats, and Why We Believe Them,” (2006, Free Press) "important" and "accurate, timely, and necessary."

Moix has worked for 15 years in the national and international policy arenas on peace building and violence prevention issues. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. with George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, where she is a research fellow with the Genocide Prevention Program. She also is working as an Atrocity Prevention Fellow with the U.S. Agency for International Development's Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation. Her areas of policy and research interest include preventing and ending war, strengthening local peace capacities, nonviolent civilian protection, early warning and response systems, and community-based approaches to atrocity prevention. She spent nine years with the Friends Committee on National Legislation, a Quaker lobby in the public interest, where she developed and led the Peaceful Prevention of Deadly Conflict program and helped establish the Prevention and Protection Working Group. 

Shank holds a Ph.D. from George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution. His career over the past 20 years has involved U.N., government and non-governmental organizations in the U.S., Europe, Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America as an adviser on diplomatic, economic, energy and environmental security and policy initiatives. He also writes regularly for the Washington Post, U.S. News and World Report, Financial Times, The Guardian, The Washington Times, Christian Science Monitor, The Nation, Politico, Roll Call and The Hill. He is an on-air analyst for FOX News, CCTV News, Al Jazeera, Russia Today, Current TV and CTV News.


Prior to the evening symposium on Jan. 30, from 3 to 4 p.m., a roundtable discussion on how to research war prevention will be offered. It is titled “How Do We Study What Didn’t Happen?” Mueller, Moix and Shank will participate in this discussion and will discuss questions such as:

·         How do we know if we prevented anything?

·         How do we attempt to prove that something did not happen because of what we did or did not do?

·         How do we assess non-military intervention?  (How do we assess military intervention?)

·         How do we know if we have made a difference?

·         Is this the challenge of proving negatives?  

·         If we have to go back to Kenya every two years, have we prevented something or just briefly suppressed it?

This roundtable discussion will be held in the Ridenour Room of the Dauch College of Business and Economics at Ashland University. Students and faculty are encouraged to attend and the discussion is open to the public as well.

Mueller, Moix,and Shank also will present at Cuyahoga Community College on the topic of “Saying Goodbye to War:  A Critical Conversation.” That presentation is from 12:30 to 2 p.m. on Jan. 31 at the Tri-C-Eastern Campus, Liberal Arts Building Room 122, 4250 Richmond Road, Highland Hills, Ohio.  The contact for the Tri-C event is Tyler Olsen, who can be reached at 216-987-2582.

The Ashland Center for Nonviolence at Ashland University is located on the AU campus. The Center seeks a world in which human conflict at all levels can be resolved without resorting to violence and in which social justice can be realized. For more information about ACN events, or to learn more about the Ashland Center for Nonviolence, please call 419-289-5313 or visit the website at  To be added to the ACN e-mail list, e-mail your request to

Ashland University, which has been ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###