Special thanks to SOFREP friend Jeffrey Carr for this review! -Jack

When I began to read an advance copy of J. Robert DuBois’s book “Powerful Peace: A Navy SEAL’s Lessons on Peace from a Lifetime at War” I was immediately reminded of Miyamoto Musashi’s “The Book of Five Rings”.

  • Both are written by elite warriors at the end of their respective military careers.
  • Both demonstrate a deep respect for the spiritual as well as the martial.
  • Both encourage the reader to pursue in practice the concepts that they’ve put down in writing. Musashi’s most frequent phrase is “You should investigate this thoroughly”. DuBois gives the reader assignments to do after each section.
  • Both divide their books into natural elements or components (Musashi: Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, Void; DuBois: Body, Mind, Heart, Soul, Hope).
  • Both understand and encourage a wide perspective rather than a narrow focus. DuBois wrote about the importance of Commonality, Self Interest, and “thinking broadly”; all of which contribute to DuBois’s specialty – the use of Smart Power. Musashi had rules for his students, some of which included:
    1. Touch upon all of the arts.
    2. Know the Ways of all occupations.
    3. Know the advantages and disadvantages of everything.
    4. Develop a discerning eye in all matters.
    5. Pay attention to even small things.

Rob DuBois has written an exceptional book about peace-keeping; a book that could only have been written by a member of an elite special operations unit. In his chapter called “Harm” he talks about the cost of war to children and his feelings about two beautiful Iraqi girls who were wounded by a car bomb near a school:

God, how I long to suit up and rejoin the mission! I want to pay back, to the monsters that did this, everything they deserve—with interest. If you came to this table for a Kumbaya solution, you’ll be disappointed. I don’t denounce violence; I embrace it. I keep violence as close as my hands and my heart. Because I do, I am more often spared from having to use it. My heart doesn’t ache for these children. It explodes. Forcing out burning tears, my heart explodes like the car bomb that tore them and their playmates apart.

Yet despite a boiling rage, I remind myself—we must not abandon balance. We have to respond, not react. In the next chapter, we’ll look more at the Why Not of lashing out, but for now let me say, to be more effective we have to learn to engage among and across relationships, households, and societies—most especially into concentrations where the hatred is most firmly rooted. Destroying alone leads to more destroying. This is the terrible paradox. It’s almost impossible to imagine breaking the cycle of harm when you feel so hurt and hateful, but there is no other hope for these girls and millions like them.

DuBois’s book, a relatively short 154 pages, is packed with wisdom derived from personal experiences in battle and in training with his peers in the SpecOps community world-wide. It underscores the many options available to us to resolve conflict before we engage with bullets and bombs. This is a critical book that both doves and hawks need to read, discuss and implement in their daily lives.