A letter to President Trump

Dear Mr. President:

Congratulations on your inauguration! Let me be honest: I supported Hillary Clinton, because the liberal media convinced me that you were too disrespectful of convention to be President.

But I’m beginning to see your defiance of received wisdom in a positive light. In fact, that is why I’m writing you. I have a proposition that should appeal to your iconoclasm–and, yes, your ambition.

Your doubters insinuate that the prospect of being President daunts you, but of course they underestimate you. If anything you are wondering: What loftier mountains are there to climb? Challenges to overcome? How can you top what you’ve already done?

You have big items on your to-do list: reforming immigration and health-care policies, boosting employment, rebuilding our creaky infrastructure, renegotiating international trade deals and alliances.

I propose that you make a much grander goal your primary mission: world peace. Yes, I’m talking about ending war and even the threat of war. If you succeed, armed conflict between any two nations will be inconceivable, just as it is today between France and Germany, who for centuries were mortal enemies.

You have criticized U.S. military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere, and you called the Vietnam War “a mistake.” You clearly recognize that war should be avoided whenever possible, because it often ends up creating more problems than it solves. War also wastes resources that could be spent improving education and health care and pulling people out of poverty.

Almost everyone–including Barack Obama, who won a Nobel Peace Prize!–doubts whether permanent peace is possible. According to surveys I’ve carried out for more than a dozen years, nine out of ten people think war will never cease. This widespread pessimism, far from deterring you, should make my proposition more enticing. Moreover, in many ways the time is ripe for ending war. Since the end of World War II, armed conflicts have declined dramatically. The entire western hemisphere is now war-free!

Attaining world peace will require boldness, imagination and tough negotiations with powerful individuals and institutions, notably the defense industry. But the global economy has far more to gain than to lose from war’s eradication. Lockheed-Martin, the biggest defense firm, ranks only 197 on the Fortune Global 500.

With your communication skills, you should be able to amass broad support for a peace plan, building a coalition consisting of liberals, libertarians, fiscal conservatives, people of faith and business folk.

You can’t vanquish war in four years, but if you promote peace aggressively, you might see results surprisingly soon. No one thought the Cold War would end until, suddenly, it did. Here is how you might proceed:

First, declare that world peace is your administration’s number-one priority. Order Defense Secretary James Mattis (great choice, by the way) and other advisors to brainstorm peace plans, including proposals for scaling back U.S. military operations without imperiling security. The U.S. could chop its defense budget in half and it would still exceed the spending of Russia and China combined.

Meanwhile, you and other global leaders swap ideas for resolving conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere in ways that further the ultimate goal of ending war. Your respectful relations with Vladimir Putin give you an advantage. You and Putin could pledge sharp reductions in your nuclear arsenals and a moratorium on developing new weapons as a show of good faith to other nations. China and other major powers will surely reciprocate with military rollbacks, because they, too, would rather invest in hospitals, schools, roads and clean energy than arms. World peace is win-win-win.

If, as President, you help humanity take the first step toward overcoming the ancient scourge of war, you will go down in history as the greatest leader ever. Greater than Caesar, Napoleon, Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Churchill, Gandhi, Ronald Reagan. Jesus called for peace on earth, Trump delivers it.

If you have questions about my proposition, I’d be happy to talk it over with you at your convenience.

Respectfully, John Horgan, Stevens Institute of Technology

[This is an revised version of a letter originally published on my ScientificAmerican.com blog, “Cross-check.”]